A new venture. Spotted by Locals; Edinburgh.


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Look out for my impending travel writing.  I’ve just been interviewed by Bart and Sanne who run Spotted by Locals.  A travel app and website, created in 2008 and reaching over 60 cities, that invites a small group of writers to share their insights into their HOME city.

It’s a great idea because you get insights into cities all over the world from a non commercial perspective and outside of the usual historical or just plain obvious sights.

Anyway there will be five Edinburgh writers when I start.  Looking forward to it.  If anyone has any interesting spots for me to check out do please let me know and I’ll go investigate.

Our House. A pact with Guru Dudu.


In an earlier post I told you how Guru Dudu’s Silent Disco Walking Tour was one of five star hits of the festival.

So much so that when he said on his Facebook page on Sunday that he needed a room for a few days we offered the room in our Air B’nB free of charge.

On one condition.

He put on a Silent Disco Walking Tour here in South Queensferry.

It was particularly relevant as today was the day the Queen opened the new Queensferry Crossing so it seemed like an excellent way to celebrate.

He agreed and I put the jungle drums into motion.  24 hours later 45 Guru Dudu virgins were assembled in Scotmid’s Car Park and the tour began.

Starting with his legendary East meets West Yoga/Disco warm up we all found our inner Disco Chakra’s to Chic’s Le Freak.  And what’s more, with Guru Dudu having implored the Disco Divas to take the relentless rain away, they did, and we were treated to a pleasant autumnal evening’s weather.

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Moving to The Loan we were further uninhibited as we each took to the dance stage in our own style which was echoed by the assembled.

Next stop the harbour, with the 53 year old Road bridge and the aforementioned 12 hour old Queensferry crossing as our background to the West and the iconic 145 year old Rail Bridge as the dance canvas to the East.

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Post bridge orgy we headed to the High Street for our mass choir performance of Bohemian Rhapsody to the Orocco Pier posse.  It was awesome (plenty of air guitars on show).

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Up the West Terrace past the Ferry Tap to the East Terrace where we did a ‘Soul Train’ to Rose Royce’s Car Wash.

Next up we performed Our House by Madness.  IN. A. HOUSE.  (The pink one on East Terrace)

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Not to be outdone, a resident of West Terrace took us up The Vennel (painful) before inviting us into her back garden, where we jigged to Rihanna.

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As we basked in a glorious sunset we headed back to Scotmid for the piece de resistance and finale.

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Scotmid staff and customers were utterly bemused as this flash mob descended on their favourite supermarket.

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And just to top it all off we did a collection for the Royal National Lifeboat Institute that has a station in South Queensferry.  (Again it seemed appropriate, on this special day, as they have been saving lives around the bridges for many, many years.)

£280 later…

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Guru Dudu’s Silent Disco Walking Tour


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Sometimes you stumble upon an ‘experience’ that is so unique, so damn CLEVER that it takes your breath away.

Guru Dudu has created that ‘experience’: an hour long tour in the hands of a self appointed guru and yoga instructor with a deep love of Disco music.

50 of us congregated in the Grassmarket at 2pm on a busy Fringe Sunday afternoon, right in the heart of thronging Edinburgh touristville. After being given radio controlled earphones Guru Dudu commenced the tour with a bit of dance yoga warm up, meet the neighbours, before commencing the tour. In a fairly tight mile or so loop we danced to Abba, Stevie Wonder, Backstreet Boys, Chic and many more disco and discoesque classics.

We created a Soul train near the University.

We sang Bohemian Rhapsody to the crowd at Greyfriars Bobby.

We air guitared.

We serenaded strangers.

But, most of all, we danced like crazy gradually becoming less and less aware of the fact that this was essentially a public performance with a cast of strangers and a conductor that is also a master choreographer.

“Voullez Vous, Aha” a second before each ‘Aha’ Guru Dudu points out a passing person on the left or right and instructs us to shout ‘Aha’ and point at them in unison. It works every time. You laugh at your innate ability to be a massed choir and dance troupe with absolutely no training. It is miraculous.

And we grinned. Oh how we grinned, from ear to ear for every second of the 45 minute tour.

This is as good a Fringe show as you will EVER perform in. Go on, release your inner Bee Gee.

Glasto Lite.


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Having  been unable to get tickets for Glastonbury for a few years now I am about to experience the Catalonian equivalent with a cheeky wee trip to Barcelona for Primavera Sound.

Top of my list of, and possible, just about, ‘to see’ are…

  • Solange
  • Bon Iver
  • Kate Tempest
  • Aphex Twin
  • King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard
  • Sinkane
  • Magnetic Fields (Playing the ED Fest in August)
  • Arab Strap
  • the xx
  • Sleaford Mods
  • Jamie XX
  • Songhoy Blues
  • Van Morrison
  • Metronomy
  • Teenage Fanclub
  • Grace Jones
  • Arcade Fire
  • Wild Beasts
  • Japandroids

Of these my number one pick is King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard.  Check out Gamma Knife, their best song.  They have many best songs.

Super Furry Animals at The Usher Hall Edinburgh: Review


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Usually with bands I prefer their early work before they ‘sell out’.  So this retrospective set of 1996’s Fuzzy Logic and 1997’s Radiator should have got me going.

But, see, I likes their later stuff. 2000’s Myng, 2001’s Rings Around the World and 2003’s Phantom Power.

There was nothing particularly wrong about this rendering of their two debut albums.  Not from the band anyway.

But the sound.  Oh my sweet Lord.

Helen Keller wearing an aqualung could have put on a better performance than this.

Go to your next gig wearing a parka with your hood up, wrap your head in a duvet and then get a dog to piss on it and you’d be getting close to experiencing what went on the Usher Hall last night.

Rubbish. And, consequently, boring.

Another great example of why Edinburgh is crying out for a good mid sized venue (it was only half sold out) because the Usher Hall is putrid for rock and roll.

1 star.

 

The End of an era at Ripping Records. Simply the best.


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Every great music city has a Mecca.

In London it was Rough Trade, in New York it’s Bleeker Street Records.

In Edinburgh it was Ripping Records.

But on Saturday 26th November that Mecca closes for the final time.  John Richardson is retiring.

I was particularly privileged to have an ‘insiders’ relationship with Ripping, because my mate, then sister’s boyfriend and not long after, Brother in Law, was the second Lieutenant, Nik Sutherland.

It was a privilege indeed because it gave me access to quite a few guest list tickets.  Had I have been greedy enough I suppose I could have been out in Edinburgh’s music scene every night of the week but that would have been wrong.  You can only ask for so many favours. (Don’t get my wrong I bought plenty too.)

Every time I popped in, Nik or John would bung me a promo disc saying “you might like this” and back in the record rep days w hen there were thousands of T shirts on the go, I’d often be the recipient of Nik’s cast offs.

I have a few to this day.

It all started for me as a student in the late 1970’s.  In those days John took care of proceedings downstairs and Nik ran the record exchange upstairs.  It was, in a way, the predecessor to e-Bay.  Hundreds of (mainly) punk singles put on display by their owners at their stated “buy now” price for which Ripping took a commission.  I was an avid collector of Stranglers singles and purchased most of them at Ripping and then, when I was at my poorest, ironically when I’d started my first real job, I sold them there at a significant premium.

It was good business.

Ripping was cool, if a little scary.  John and Nik (and Davey) took no shit from anyone (including me) and there were plenty of wee bampots that used to hang around there, so there was always the chance of something kicking off, but it was cool as fuck and I was anything but cool, so it gave me a bit of swagger and second hand street cred, to be associated by marriage.

As my kids grew up they were able to pretty much guarantee themselves T in the Park Tickets and that was great too.

But mostly what I loved about Ripping was that it was just a cultural hang out where you could talk music for hours with John and Nik.  I was always made welcome and could chat round and about the busy comings and goings of the place.

It was, of course, part of its own micro-economy of The Bridges where local traders helped each other out.

One story I loved was when the girl from the shoe shop told Nik and John that she’s had a customer in that morning.  Let’s just say she wasn’t the most sophisticated Fifer in Fife.

She’d come in looking for long lace up boots that had a certain role.

“Huv yae goat any ae thae shaggin’ bits?” was her query.

Of course it was tough.  Always tough.  The other Record Shop in Cockburn Street was cheaper.  HMV muscled in on the ticket scene.  TicketScotland threatened to become a monopoly.  Ripping never had the buying clout to compete and it seemed to me from about 1990 they hardly sold any music.

It was tickets that became its game and slowly but surely an idiosyncratic website emerged that was an Aladdin’s Cave of musical treasure.  I’m sure John will join me in thanking the venues that resolutely refused to cut Ripping out of the musical ecosystem of Edinburgh and allowed them to continue to make a living and be THE place in Scotland to buy your tickets.

The buses to Glasgow (predominatly to Barrowlands in my experience, but most likely that hell hole that was the SECC too) were the stuff of legend.  One night Nik would be on his way to a death metal gig, the next a boy band and sometimes to bands he actually wanted to see.

Thanks John and Nik and Davy.

It was fucking brilliant.

Fore!

One More time with feeling; Review of Nick Cave documentary


Don’t get me wrong I was willing, urging this film to be magnificent.  But will as I did, it isn’t.

In fact it’s like the ultimate home movie utilising the finest cinematographers money can buy (Benoit Debie and Alwin H Kuchler – I suspect one was on 2D duty, one on 3D – I saw it in 2D).

The back story is important here.  The documentary was commissioned to film the making of Cave’s brilliant new album, Skeleton Tree, (I know it’s brilliant because it was played in full on its release 11 hours ago on the BBC 6 Music Mary Anne Hobbs Show).  What nobody predicted was that it would become a film about grief because, as I understand the timing, no sooner had filming started than Cave’s 15 year old son, Arthur, died in a climbing accident.  The chronology of this is not clear in the film’s narrative.

When I read of Arthur’s death I was devastated for Nick Cave (I truly love the man) and so I expected the film to be an emotional roller coaster.

It isn’t.

Instead what we get is a strung out self indulgence piece.  And I don’t mean Nick Cave’s self indulgence, I mean Andrew Dominik’s. (Director of Cave-soundtracked, and awesome, movie The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.)

It is sumptuously photographed and of course the music is stellar but the glue that binds it, the storyline, is fragmented, dull and seemingly endless.  OK, I accept Cave is a private man and he doesn’t want to spill his grief out on camera, his wife too, but when he describes breaking down in the arms of a virtual stranger on the High Street in Brighton we get a glimpse of what he is going through.

But that’s it.

My companion fell asleep several times.  Thanks partly to the heat in The Filmhouse, Edinburgh where we saw this.  Extremely uncomfortable.  Did they not know they had a sell out audience?

I don’t like being negative about a film of this nature but if Dominik had an Executive Producer with a firmer hand we might have seen a more pared down and rewarding experience.

If you want to see Nick Cave at his very best on film watch the far superior 20,000 Days on Earth, directed by Jane Pollard and Iain Forsyth.  It’s magnificent.