This’ll spook you.


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I saw this in The Met last October.  It’s from a roomful of plates shot in the late 19th century of doctors carrying out electrical impulse experiments on asylum patients to see if they could trigger different facial expressions.

I think this one was terror.

It scared the bejeezus out of me.

 

Emma Pollock Live at Voodoo Rooms Edinburgh


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A quick look through the excellent Setlist.fm reveals that true to her word it’s been a while since Emma Pollock played Edinburgh (nine years to be precise) so no surprise that on the back of her astonishing new album it’s a sell out.

(In Search of Harperfield is surely the hot favourite to win this year’s Scottish Album of the Year and I’d tip it for a Mercury nomination to boot.)

What we experience will have to wait for a moment because, first, I want to put in a mildly nepotous hurrah for Hamish James Hawk who performs as support sans-band, but whips up a great noise nevertheless.  This young man has talent and if he maintains his man of many faces approach and outstanding, between songs, rhetoric he’ll have the audience in his hands for years to come.

To Pollock.

This is no ordinary gig.  Like Hawk, who’s acoustic guitar she borrows for a substitute RM Hubbard number (Monster in the Pack), she has a gift for storytelling.  Surely nobody in the 300 strong audience could fail to be moved by her description of how Intermission came about – how she drove back and forth from Glasgow to Dumfries visiting her parents both ill, in different hospitals, during a spell of beautiful Scottish weather.

They both prevailed.

Her self deprecation is triumphantly engaging as she ineptly changes instruments throughout the gig with guitar straps proving what would be, to others, gig killers but, to her, props on the road to her stand up career.

But it’s her songs and her remarkable voice, aided by extraordinarily good sound and a superb band, that makes this such a profoundly great musical evening.  Not a moment is wasted and her range is fully extended with highlights that include Red Orange Green, Alabaster, Clemency and my personal highlightt, Dark Skies, from the brilliant stage play Whatever Gets You Through The Night (it reminded me that I must go to the Galloway Forest Park sometime).

Emma Pollock is not a prolific performer so it was a real treat to see her perform in my home town.  It would appear that she must be big in Spain because she’s going gig crazy there in April.  And she may or may not be up to something special in the Festival.  I can only guess because she’d have had to kill herself if she told us.

She didn’t.

But a whiff of anticipation smothered the room.

 

The seven day music challenge.


My pal, Peter Flockhart, challenged me to find seven songs that would sum up my musical taste, but I got a little carried away.  Thought you might like to see them all in the one place as we reach day 30.  They are in no particular order and, surprisingly, only one artist appears twice.  Tom Waits.

Day 30

Day 29

Day 28

Day 27

Day 26

Day 25

Day 24

Day 23

Day 22

Day 21

Day 20

Day 19

Day 18

Day 17

Day 16

Day 15

Day 14

Day 13

Day12

Day 11

Day 10

Day 9

Day 8

Day 7

Day 6

Day 5

Day 4

Day 3

Day 2

Day 1

FFS. That was good. (Franz Ferdinand and Sparks at Edinburgh Festival Theatre)


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Pardon the obvious cheap jibe but it HAD to be done.

Franz Ferdinand and Sparks (known as FFS) collaborated on stage tonight in the Edinburgh International Festival and ended their show with the ironic “Collaborations Don’t work”.

Ironic because they do.

Not since Elton John and Kiki Dee has collaboration hit such great heights.

I jest.

Sparks and Franz Ferdinand are made for each other.  Their art school schtick is a perfect match.  Their angsty jittery, jangly synth/guitar combo creates greatness at every turn and, of course, each gets to showcase their three best songs.

Franz chose Take me Out (awesome), Michael (good) and Do you Want to (awesome) to shattering response.

Sparks elected for No 1 Song in Heaven (awesome), This Town ain’t Big Enough for the Both of us (awesome) and When Do I get to sing “my Way” (good).

Frankly the effect of this and their sublime collaboration was almost overwhelming.  This was a truly life affirming gig that anyone in that audience will talk about for years.

Thank you Franz Ferdinand.  Thank you Sparks.  Thank you Edinburgh international Festival.  Thank you Fergus Linehan for your vision to put this on.

Sunshine on Leith


Advertising supremo, Iain McAteer, of The Union was climbing Arthur Seat on a chill but not Arctic New Year’s day.

The hike was an attempt to wash the bitter taste of the defeat (and too much red wine) of his beloved Chips’n’cheese-eating, potato picking, football team to the (ex) purveyors of the beautiful game, the mighty Hibernian FC from his mouth.

He turned to take in the glorious view and was rewarded with this stunning vision.

Easter Road

king of the mountains?


I had an afternoon off and I had some stuff to pick up in Edinburgh so, between rain showers (well, when I say SHOWERS…), I jumped on the old bike to do a training run for the Pedal For Scotland ride that’s now only 8 weeks away. You can register here… http://ow.ly/c1Ssg

So, I cycled into Edinburgh (11 miles ) and then did two circuits of Arthur’s Seat (my second volcanic circumnavigation in a week given that I’d done Vesuvius last week).

The trip round Arthur’s Seat is 3.3 miles and I clocked 14 minutes or so both times.  My memories of the ascent (just under a mile) to Dunsapie Loch were far more onerous than the reality.

After that a cycle back to South Queensferry and all 32 miles done and dusted in about 2hrs 15 minutes.

Cream crackered now like.