Tag Archives: Music

WHAT’S ON MAY: The Magic of Motown at Hamilton Town House

The Magic of Motown

Celebrating the sound of a generation

Music fans are invited to the biggest party of the year as the unstoppable Magic of Motown show steams into town! Seen by over a million people, it’s no surprise that the show is one of the biggest success stories in British theatre history, even performing for Her Majesty the Queen, as special guests at the Royal Variety Performance.

Prepare yourself for 40 back-to-back classic Motown hits, glittering costume changes, dazzling dance moves and outstanding musicianship in this explosive concert experience.

With timeless music of Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, The Supremes, The Four Tops, Jackson 5, Smokey Robinson and more, are sensationally recreated for you by an exceptionally talented cast and band.

This breath-taking concert spectacular takes you on a musical journey through all your favourite songs, including: Ain’t No Mountain, Signed Sealed Delivered, Dancing In The Streets, My Cherie Amor, Heatwave and many more.

Available to book online or by calling The Town House, Hamilton on 01698 452299.

Date: 4 May 2019

Time: 7:30pm

Cost: £26.50 / £24.50

Venue: The Town House, Hamilton

REVIEW: Someone Like You: The Adele Songbook – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

It’s over a decade since Adele burst onto the music scene with her debut album 19. From there the then teenage sensation has matured into a world-dominating megastar. With Adele on a seemingly infinite sabbatical, Katie Markham’s Someone Like You: The Adele Songbook is both a fitting tribute to the star and an excellent substitute.

Former X Factor finalist Markham was chosen to appear in the TV special Adele Live at the BBC presented by Graham Norton, an event that was to change her life. Not only did she get to sing with her idol, that appearance inspired Markham’s decision to create the show Someone Like You, a show that has now toured Britain. A wise decision, as the superstar’s music transcends both musical genres and the generations as evidenced by the large and diverse audience in the Theatre Royal this evening.

Markham manages to capture Adele’s vocal and physical nuances, but she is clearly a gifted singer in her own right and accompanied by a talented four-piece live band and two backing singers, she more than delivers the goods. From Hometown Glory through: Chasing Pavements; Make You Feel My Love; Set Fire To The Rain; Someone Like You; Rumour Has It, Rolling In The Deep, Skyfall to Hello, every hit and some lesser known album tracks are here as well as some tributes to Adele’s musical heroes. There’s even an astonishingly good version of Cheryl Cole’s Promise This, originally performed for Radio One’s Live Lounge, proving that a class act like Adele can make a silk purse out of any musical pig’s ear. Markham’s talented backing vocalists also get their chance in the spotlight with a knock-out version of Natural Woman.

It takes a brave performer indeed to take on arguably the world’s best female vocalist, thankfully Markham is a class act like her musical idol, and Someone Like You is a highly entertaining two hour musical treat.

Katie returns to Scotland next month with shows on:

11th March – Eden Court, Inverness
12th March – Music Hall, Aberdeen
13th March – Webster Theatre, Arbroath 

REVIEW: The Overtones – Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

The Overtones are in Glasgow to have a party, a great big, joyous Christmas party, and while it totally and utterly fulfils this brief, in a year that has been more than challenging for the band, this is a night filled with huge happiness and just a little sadness.

This hasn’t been the easiest year for The Overtones, following the death of lead vocalist Timmy Matley and critical conversations about the future of the band, but from the moment they bound onto the stage to the strains of Womack and Womack’s Teardrops, you are utterly assured that their decision to carry on as a four-piece is the right one.

Occupying a unique niche in the market with their blend of modern Doo Wop, the band truly have wide, multi-generational appeal. Added to their vocal talents, this is a quartet who put their hearts, souls and considerable physical and emotional energies into every performance.

The audience are literally on their feet from the first notes, and the feel-good hits just keep coming: You To Me Are Everything, Runaround Sue, My Girl and Rockin’ Robin particularly fit their vocal harmonies and set the party atmosphere. However, the audience inevitably knows that a remembrance of Matley’s life would come. And so it does in the form of a trio of songs specially chosen to celebrate him: Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow (their last song recorded as a 5-piece), the Spice Girls’ Goodbye and I Say a Little Prayer, the poignancy added to by the sight of Matley’s beaming smile projected behind the band as they sing.

Before the interval, the band manages to ramp the happiness back up, delivering Frankie Valli’s Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.

The festive factor is represented by a clutch of Christmas classics: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Let It Snow and Driving Home For Christmas and there’s a duo of ear-pleasing original songs from the latest album, new single Stand Up and By My Side. But it’s the party tunes that have the sold-out audience dancing in the aisles: Love Really Hurts, Get Ready and Gimme Just a Little More Time, have the joint jumping.

While the loss of Matley’s vocals is of huge consequence, Mike Crawshaw and Lockie Chapman more than step up and are, as always perfectly supported by Darren Everest and Mark Franks. Fans will be delighted to know that the sharp and original choreography is still very much in evidence and beautifully executed.

The band round out the evening of mutual love with the entirely appropriate Love Is In the Air and leave the audience on a high.

The Overtones prove that good, old-fashioned quality will always win out, and if the reaction of this Glasgow crowd is anything to go on, it will continue to do so for many years to come.

REVIEW: Blair Dunlop – The Hug and Pint, Glasgow

From folksy beginnings, Blair Dunlop has been moving in recent years (and over the course of three albums) to a more commercial sound.

The son of singer Judy Dunlop and Fairport Convention’s Ashley Hutchings, Dunlop has a varied performance CV, as well as his musical outings, he also appeared as the young Willy Wonka in Tim Burton’s 2005 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Prizes have also not eluded him, winning the 2013 Horizon Award at the BBC Folk Awards and the Special Jury Prize Premio Ciampi in Italy in 2014.

His Ed Harcourt produced latest album, Notes From an Island features large in this live set. The folk elements are still evident, and are the very heart and soul of his sound, but it’s clear Dunlop has matured greatly. While there’s now a broader appeal to the sound, and a big Americana influence, there’s still real depth to the material and a clear political and social commentary running throughout. 

Dunlop and his sound are well suited to intimate venues. That said, it could be argued that Dunlop’s material is so intimate that even this small room sometimes engulfs it. Thoughtful and low-key, the sound could easily be lost in a large venue and that doesn’t necessarily bode well for career expansion. This is music to reflect and relax too, to muse about, not necessarily for a live setting, the audience, while clearly enjoying the gig, are relatively passive for this city. That said, Dunlop is hugely talented and his music is a joy to the ears, he’s a gifted technical vocalist and musician, hopefully his sound will continue to mature and expand to larger venues and audiences. This is music of the highest quality that deserves to be heard by the widest audience possible.

 

 

 

Jarrod Dickenson – King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow

It seems silly to label Nashville based, Texan troubadour Jarrod Dickenson a new, rising star, he’s an artist who’s been on the scene since 2010. However, now that the appetite for musical Americana is gathering momentum in the UK, Dickenson’s reputation is building, and with speed.

He’s in Glasgow at the world-famous King Tut’s with just his guitar, his trademark tall hat and his Belfast-born wife on backing vocals to support Grant-Lee Phillips and promote his latest album Ready The Horses.

A born storyteller, the stripped-back sound suits these self-confessional songs perfectly. His sound straddles multiple genres: country, old-school blues, folk, a touch of soul, a tinge of Johnny Cash, but most of all it’s entirely transportative, it’s more New Orleans blues bar than Glasgow rock venue tonight. Dickenson is clearly a gifted musician and songwriter, each song a perfect vignette on life, the universe and everything in between. Dickenson’s voice manages in turn to be plaintive, poignant, plangent, rough, smooth and strong. This live set is as note perfect as anything you could catch on a recording.

This is a strong set, delivered to an enthusiastic crowd, by an incredibly talented musician who deserves to be heard by a wider audience. Dickenson surely has a bright future ahead.

Reviewed on 21 April 2018, currently touring the UK with Grant-Lee Philips, then Don McLean.

REVIEW: Eastern Promise Festival – Visible Cloaks – Platform, Easterhouse

Portland, Oregon’s ambient duo Visible Cloaks are well known in the electronic music world. Tonight at Platform, the pair recreate their newly-released album Reassemblage, live, accompanied by live digital and installation artist Brenna Murphy.

A highlight of the evening at the Eastern Promise festival, the American duo are masters of their craft and their affecting music is the perfect counterpoint to the visual madness which abounds on the rest of the programme.

The visuals by Brenna Murphy don’t exactly gel with music, they are reminiscent of the glaring primary coloured graphics of 1980’s TV show The Krypton Factor and are simplistic rather than original or ground-breaking. That said, the music more than transcends the limp visuals.

Visible Cloaks music has the power to physically and emotionally change your state of mind and body – surrender to the sound, you won’t regret it.

 

REVIEW: Friday Night is Music Night BBC Music Day Concert – City Halls, Glasgow

Once in a while, the stars align to bring a magical evening’s entertainment that will linger long in the memory and so it was at Glasgow’s City Halls to celebrate BBC Music Day, with BBC Radio 2’s Friday Night is Music Night presenting a gala concert featuring the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and a line-up of guests from across the musical spectrum.

jamie cullum friday night is music night

The programme comprising a selection of popular classical pieces, (The Marriage of Figaro, Tosca) to well-loved movie and stage soundtracks (My Fair Lady Overture, the Back to the Future theme tune), as well as some jazz and pop standards, was a popular one.

Jamie Cullum, representing the world of jazz, gave a pared back and perfectly performed version of Pure Imagination as well as the roof raising Bond theme-like Edge of Something, opera tenor Noah Stewart, easy on the eye as well as ear, astounded with an emotive Recondita Armonia from Tosca and a goose-bump inducing Grenada.

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World-renowned violinist Jack Liebeck gave a snippet of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto, harpist Catrin Finch (formerly Prince Charles Official Harpist) performed two beautifully melodic pieces, Bhangra artist Jaz Dhami accompanied by kohl and tabla players as well as the SSO delivered two full-blooded Bollywood movie classic themes and Claire Hastings BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year 2015 gave a lyrical version of Robert Burns The Posie and a stirring Johnny Ramensky.

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Local gal Lulu, appearing first across the water at the BBC HQ at The Quay crossed the river to deliver her 60’s movie hit To Sir With Love.

Less successful in a night of big-hitters were local pop stalwarts Deacon Blue who were woefully underpowered by an on top form SSO. Vocalist Lorraine McIntosh didn’t help proceedings by looking as if she would rather be anywhere else but here.

friday night is music night city halls bbc music day jazz dharmi

That said, this minor blip did not ruin a magical evening of world class talent for a Glasgow audience in roof-raising form – truly breathtaking from start to finish.

REVIEW: John Wilson – Monday Night Live British Classics, City Halls, Glasgow

 

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“Conductor John Wilson, well known for his interpretations of American music, leads the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in an exploration of the varied work of British composers active in the first half of the 20th Century. 

Paul Watkins, acclaimed for his performances of British Music, joins the orchestra as soloist in Gerald Finzi’s Cello Concerto, a work imbued with characteristic lyricism but with darker undertones, written shortly before the composer’s untimely death in 1956.

And the concert, broadcast live on Radio 3, concludes with 2 works: Holst’s Ballet Music from his doomed opera, The Perfect Fool; and Arnold Bax’s, The Garden of Fand, an orchestral tone poem inspired by the ancient Celtic folklore in which the composer was steeped.”

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It would be a waste of words to talk about the technicalities of the playing, the complexities of the music or the astounding talent of John Wilson. All that needs to be said is that this was a tremendously entertaining evening of beautiful music, played by phenomenally talented musicians, led by one of the world’s best conductors in a venue that boasts some of the best accoustics in the world, and a bargain at only £10 – simply perfect.

Look out for further performances at City Halls: http://www.glasgowconcerthalls.com/

More information about the Scottish Symphony Orchestra at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/orchestras/bbcsso/

John Wilson at: http://www.johnwilsonorchestra.com/

Music:

Walton – Portsmouth Point: An Overture (c.6′)

Finzi – Cello Concerto in A minor, Op.40 (c.40′)

Holst – The Perfect Fool: Ballet Music (c.12′)

Bax – The Garden of Fand: tone poem (c.17′)

INTERVIEW: Louise Quinn from A Band Called Quinn

This article was originally written for and published by The Public Reviews

For years, Louise Quinn and her band, A Band Called Quinn, have been blurring the boundaries between music, film and theatre. With their music appearing in films and television series worldwide, riding high as the “soundtrack to Scotland” (so dubbed by Kayleigh Mcleod at Scottish Television Local), their track The Glimmer Song used for Scottish Television’s national ads and counting Madonna and author Ian Rankin among their fans, The Public Reviews‘ Lauren Humphreys chatted to Louise about her foray into theatre with the innovative Biding Time (remix).

Tell us a bit about Pippa Bailey’s musical theatre work Biding Time and how you came to be involved in creating a remixed version of it.

The original concept by Pippa Bailey is about a woman called Thyme and her path to fame. Pippa provides the basic framework for the show but asks artists to put their own slant on it. We’ve worked with the theatre company Vanishing Point and its artistic director Matthew Lenton was at a conference with Pippa, who said she wanted to open the work up to artists worldwide and get their different responses to the source work. She expressed a desire to have a music industry slant put on it and, despite the original idea being 25 years old, the role of women in the business hasn’t really changed. I read it, realised it had parallels with my own story and thought OK, but I want to make it a lot darker and a lot more surreal.

So, what can we expect from your remixed version of Biding Time?

I think I can best describe it by saying that it will be like being inside someone’s head or going into another world – I hope it will be really transporting. There’s a silent disco in the show so that will give it an immersive quality, and that mixed in with all the visuals should make quite a strange experience for the audience as well as good fun. There’s a lot of humour in it too. Hopefully it will reflect the rollercoaster ride you go on from being discovered to the intoxicating feeling of fame, then realising the real dangers of the music business.

As you mentioned, you’ve been involved with theatre company Vanishing Point and its re-interpretation of The Beggar’s Opera which seemed to polarise critical opinion, attracting reviews ranging from one to five stars. When you were working on it, did you ever imagine it would provoke such strong critical reactions?

It felt quite intense in places when we were working on it. The intention was to do something radical to get a younger audience into a theatre [the Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh] whose patrons were literally dying off. So I suppose it did what it said on the tin. If it had been on at a different theatre, it would have got a very different reaction. There were older audience members who loved it too, but it was a work that was constantly being tweaked. By the time it got to its final venue I think it was finished but it could have been a great piece if we had more time to marry the music to the dialogue.

You describe your band’s music as “art pop” and your gigs have been described as theatrical, having been wheeled into one gig in a cardboard box and carried onstage by a gorilla in another – how have you developed your performance style?

I was always a shy kid but one of those annoying ones who’s always putting on shows in the living room. I wanted to study art but instead went to the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (formerly RSAMD) to study production. I left in my third year to pursue a career in the music industry but eventually went on to have a “day job” with Bal from the band, in surrealist, interventionist theatre company Mischief La Bas, so with that background and the fact that we’ve never been afraid to cross over into different art forms, it was probably inevitable we would be theatrical.

With your music currently being featured in Scottish Television’s national commercial, how has having your music on TV every evening affected the bands profile?

Apart from my mum and dad now realising that I’m not just messing around, it’s been great to go out into the wider world and hear people talking about our work. The response has been fantastic.

Many of your songs have been featured in films and TV series; do you think you might pursue writing soundtracks specifically?

We’re getting a lot of calls, and we’re definitely getting a reputation as a band who sound good on film, so hopefully we can pursue that.

What next for you and A Band Called Quinn?

Firstly, we’ve been trying to release our album Red Light Means Go for a few years, the songs have been used in the BBC’s Lip Service and Carter Ferguson’s film Fast Romance, and finally it’ll be released on 1st November to coincide with some live shows we’re doing. After that we hope that the music written for this show will appear on its own album and hopefully Biding Time (remix) will have a future – we’re working with filmmaker Uisdean Murray to take the visual content of the show and make it into a feature-length film.

A review of A Band Called Quinn’s Biding Time (remix) will be published next week.

REVIEW: Edinburgh Fringe – The Alleycats Contemporary a Cappella, C Venue C

This review was originally written for and published by The Public Reviews

The Public Reviews Rating: ★★★☆☆

Veterans of Last Choir Standing and finalists in the UK Voice Festival competition The Alleycats, return to the Fringe with a show of varied content and quality. The group’s 2012 performance doesn’t bring anything new to the a cappella field, comprising as it does the ubiquitous mash-ups and a safe set list of cover versions from Fleetwood Mac to Britney Spears but what elevates it above the norm is the enthusiasm and appealing personalities of the performers.

The group also has to be given credit for trying to vary the choreography and staging for each of their numbers, however it would have made more impact if a few of them could actually dance: despite the exuberance, there are more than a few looks of self-consciousness when trying to pull off the moves. A nice inclusion in the act though, is a section which gives the audience an insight into the creative process of making an a cappella version of a song, and shows how the disparate and often seemingly unharmonious parts come together to make the whole.

One serious quibble about the whole performance is the serious lack of power from the group, sitting three rows from the front rendered the soloists almost inaudible and the moment the rest of the group joined in they were inevitably drowned out by the voices around them.

This 50 minute show doesn’t break any new ground in either musical choice or staging but the winning personalities and the conviction and vivacity with which it’s performed more than make up for its shortcomings. A pleasant enough way to pass the early evening at the Fringe.

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