Review: Jack White at the Usher Hall

Kris Krug

Jack White doesn’t allow photography during his show, so this generic image will have to do. Credits to Kris Krug

There’s a reason this article doesn’t have any photos — it’s because Jack White wouldn’t let me take any.

It was a drunken night of crazy antics as Jack White blew into the Scottish capital like an American hurricane, and in a matter of hours, he was gone again – leaving some audience members baffled and others enthralled. Whether he started the show already drunk, no one will know, but he definitely ended it that way. Swigging champagne like there was a grape draught, playing his guitar with said bottle and then tearing down half his set up, I couldn’t tell if I found his music entertaining or if it was just his unpredictable stumbling.

His music was not the clearest, only his greatest hits were completely audible, but that was arguably decades of muscle memory — playing Seven Nation Army every night since 2003 would drive me to the bottle too. Sixteen Saltines and Steady, As She Goes were perfection but the rest of the show was a little rough around the edges. He stumbled around, tearing down the cymbals, screaming into the microphone to the point that the feedback was almost deafening, conducting his band (he never uses a set list, he just reads the room), acting like a total diva, but then the nicest man would come through when he actually addressed the crowd.

He went from crazed drunkard to concerned busker so quickly it could give you whiplash.

When he came out for the encore (which he waited way too long to come out for), he proclaimed that he would play until 11pm and if anyone needed to leave, to get the last train home, then please feel free to leave. Not the Jack White who ran around the stage leaving guitars on the floor before reaching for his bottle of champers again.

Just before the end of the show, he got the support act Demob Happy on stage to jam through a song (or two, it was hard to figure out when one song stopped and another started) and profusely thanked the crowd, and blessed them, their family, their friends, all of Edinburgh and all of Scotland… the only person he forgot to bless was the family cow. He then embarked on a half hour encore (it was a two and a half hour show, getting your money’s worth) and scaled the piano (yes, he scaled it, almost crashed off of it trying to smash his guitar and then stepped off it in a very lacklustre fashion, probably realising he was too smashed himself).

Special mention has to go out to Jack White’s tech, who spent more time on stage than off, untangling him after he’d done his laps of the stage, and tuning his guitar every time he dropped it, fixing his microphone set up when he trashed it, and just generally saving the day when instruments got in Jack’s way.

All in all, it was a very entertaining show, but if you came for the music and not the full Jack White experience, then you might be left disappointed. Just don’t expect to use your phone to take photos of him or take a phone call, because he doesn’t like that either – he makes you lock your phone away before the gig even starts. It’s all Jack White or nothing at all.

Behind the Red Door

Twenty miles outside of Scotland’s bustling capital lies a place with a vibrant community of close to 20,000 people, where the Union canal divides the neighbourhoods at the hilltop and the High Street at the foot, which leads to the birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots. In many ways, the Royal Burgh of Linlithgow is a worthy equal to Edinburgh.

However, the recent launch of Red Door means the West Lothian town may steal the limelight from the big city when it comes to showcasing local music. On the high street, hidden between the eleven pubs, small cafes and local shops, there is a red door which many people often walk past without noticing  — the entranceway to St. Peter’s Church. In the close future, following the work of three musical enthusiasts, this red door will signify the portal to a new venue which could bring the community’s music scene to life.

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The recent renovations transformed the heart of the 90-year-old church into an unexpected Greek-orthodox style kirk with a Cycladic style dome, gifting the upcoming venue with perfect architectural acoustics which further enhances the intimacy of the venue, which will fill a void in the community’s arts scene.

Although the town hosts an annual folk festival which draws in big crowds and has a jazz club which puts on regular shows, it lacks a venue fit for these types of events. For years, local musicophiles and art-lovers have had to hop on trains to travel to the neighbouring cities Glasgow and Edinburgh to see touring artists or leftist, specialised (music) events. As big venue spaces in the capital, such as Studio 24 on Calton Road, Grindlay Street’s Citrus Club, and Market Street’s Electric Circus closed up recently, this is the perfect time for Red Door to attempt to provide an eclectic mix of talent for the town’s inhabitants to enjoy right on their doorsteps.

Red Door as a brand is the brainchild of Stewart Veitch, a solicitor and trustee of the church, Robin Connelly,  who has a background in promoting small-scale events and jazz gigs at St James’ Church in Leith, and Rob Adams, a journalist and music critic. One of the co-creators, Stewart Veitch, explains how this will change both the church and the community: “I suppose it is about creating an identity, because for many people in the town, the church is just a red door on the high street, they don’t know what lies behind it, so this is an invitation for them to look behind it and see what is there.”

Red Door drew its first big crowd in with Richard Holloway’s book launch of ‘Waiting for the Last Bus’. The former Episcopal bishop of Edinburgh, who is also a broadcast journalist and author, was the first to baptise the church as a cultural venue to explain his exploration in prose of our fear of death. The event was organised in collaboration with Far From The Madding Crowd, the town’s local bookshop which was awarded  ‘Independent Bookshop of the Year for Scotland’ in 2017.

Sally Pattle, who owns the bookshop, commented on the collaboration: “At Far From The Madding Crowd, we are really excited about Red Door and what it means for Linlithgow. There is already a vibrant cultural scene here in the town, but Red Door are offering something slightly different in that there will be regular events for people to look forward to.”

Following this successful partnership, both local entities have decided to put their hands together once again for a music-cum-literary event. On Saturday, October 27, two of the most distinctive jazz guitarists in the UK, Don Paterson and Graeme Stephen, will help inaugurate Red Door as a musical venue. Aside from the concert, which will see the adventurous alliance explore melody and musical invention in a whole new setting, includes the book launch of Paterson’s latest book ‘The Fall at Home — New and Collected Poems.’

This event will be followed by an intimate gig with BBC Folk Award-winning singer-songwriter Chris Wood, whose first stop of his tour is the little burgh, and a look into different cultures with Jyotsna Srikanth, a superb violinist, who plays in the (Indian) Carnatic tradition. Veitch explains the importance of including touring and world-music artists: “We are setting up what we think are high-quality artists, who seem interested in being involved, almost to establish this as another gig on the circuit for similar acts. We are keen to see how these artists will respond to this place as well as how the local community will view it as an audience.”

Starting next year, the Red Door team is hoping to incorporate spoken word into its program, including hosting an event with Shore Poets, the main poetry collective in Edinburgh. When asked about how Red Door will establish itself from here on, Veitch added: “The initial splash of events are close together and we are hoping that, by doing so, we will establish an audience quite quickly. We want to draw in a listening audience and create social space to gather people, get them away from Netflix.”

Red Door is hosting events on Saturday October 27, Thursday November 8 and Wednesday November 28.

Interview: Forrest Can’t Run

Edinburgh-based rockers launch debut EP with a bang.

The five-piece pop-punk outfit has been around for about a year and a half now, wowing various venues across the capital. Their debut EP “Time Will Tell” launched Friday so now you can be wowed at home, too.

EN4 News caught up with the guys after a loud and energetic launch show at Edinburgh’s Opium Nightclub. We spoke about their songs, their shows, and what the future holds.

The Band

  • Danny Crawford – Vocals and Frontman
  • Cal Carruthers – Lead Guitar
  • Ross Jenkins – Normal Guitar
  • Lewis Connell – Bass Guitar
  • Simon Drummond – Drums

EN4 News: Before I forget to ask, where exactly can we find your EP? Where is it available?

Danny: Spotify, Deezer, Apple Music

Ross: Amazon, Google Play. (Laughing) KKBOX

EN4 News: What was that last one?

Ross: I just looked up “Forrest Can’t Run” on Google, and it turns out we’re available on KKBOX, it’s a Southeast Asian streaming service. We have no idea how it got there.

EN4 News: During the show you said you’re on Guitar Hero as well? How did you manage that?

Danny: Basically one of my mates, Liam [On Twitch as Docy93] is one of the best Guitar Hero players in Scotland. He remastered an MP3 of us into Guitar Hero and Plays our stuff during his live streams.

EN4 News: So tonight’s gig: how was that for you guys?

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Forrest Can’t Run onstage at Opium.

Lewis: It was unreal.

Danny: I’m very tired, let’s put it that way. The crowd was amazing! To hear them singing our songs back to us was so cool.

Simon: I really enjoyed it, absolutely class.

Danny: It wasn’t just one song either, it was stuff that wasn’t even on the EP release! That was awesome. Mainly because I was really out of breath, and couldn’t sing, so it’s nice to have someone do my job for me. The crowd was probably my favourite thing about the night.

EN4 News: How was recording the EP? Quick and easy or do you all hate each other now?

Danny: Well… (Laughing)

Ross: We recorded two songs back in April, with another drummer who’s left us, and then the two other ones in August with Simon.

Simon: Yeah, I’m technically just the poor substitute.

Danny: “Masquerade” and “Voices” were produced with Mark Morrow Audio. “Stephanie” and “Time Will Tell” were done with a band called Woes who’ve been really helpful.

EN4 News: How have they helped?

Danny: Two of the guys from Woes, Luke and Sean, they took our stuff on a tour they did.

Simon: The tour was for an album they’ve just released.

Danny: Yeah, so after we recorded with them they did all the production, basically made the magic . Really cool. And the EP art was Laurence Crow, I’ll throw that in there as well.

EN4 News: You seem very well organised for only being together for 18 months. Is there any one of you that’s especially behind that?

Danny: If any of you say me I’ll hate you. But I…

Lewis: It’s actually mainly me and Ross.

Danny: What? No.

Cal: I help as well though. So does Simon.

Danny: What?!

Cal: I guess Danny does too.

Danny: Shut up! Ok, I suppose in terms of the merch, (Buy It Here!), that’s all of us. Logos and art is Ross. We even have a band bank account, me and Lewis do that. Lewis brought a card reader too for selling our stuff.

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Lewis Connell on Bass (Right), Danny Crawford on Vocals (Left), and Simon Drummond on Drums (Centre).

Danny: But really, in regards to organisation…

Ross: None of us, really.

Danny: If you look at our band group chat, it’s mostly me telling people what to do and trying really hard not to seem like an arse about it. I try to take charge, but the big decisions are left to the band.

Lewis: And I make sure they’re not crap decisions.

Danny: (Laughing) That’s fair, Lewis does quality control. My job is just making sure everyone does what they’re supposed to. I can be pushy about it but it’s mostly teamwork.

EN4 News: Last big question: what does the future hold for you guys?

Danny: Dunno.

Ross: Album.

Lewis: Album!

Cal: Album.

Simon: Yeah, album.

Danny: Well, we need to write new songs for it first. Maybe music videos too?

Ross: Yeah, We’ll hopefully have a video by early next year.

Lewis: Possibly a Christmas song?

Danny: God no. Anyway, the main idea is to get some new tunes put together, and hopefully also a tour at some point – we’d love to get down to England and play across Scotland. It’s all about broadening our horizons, you know?

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Clockwise from left: Cal, Simon, Lewis, Ross and Danny.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Preserving Scottish Gaelic heritage and culture through the Royal National Mòd

Culture and history are two of the key motivators for visits to Scotland and the Highlands and Islands, and they play an important part of the visitor experience. Scotland is rich in history and archaeology — from World Heritage Sites to ancient monuments, listed buildings to historic battlefields, cultural traditions to our myths, stories and legends.

However, there is a fear that Scotland is risking the irrecoverable loss of its heritage by abandoning the use of its native language — Scottish Gaelic. Only 57,375 people which is the equivalent of 1.1% of the Scottish population aged over three years old, are reported as able to speak Gaelic.

Luckily, the Gaelic community is actively trying to preserve its culture and traditions, and the Royal National Mòd is one of them.

The Royal National Mòd is the main music festival of Scottish Gaelic literature, songs, arts and culture and is one of the more notable peripatetic cultural festivals in Scotland. It is the most important of several other Mòds that are held annually. This year it was held in Dunoon and was organised by An Comunn Gàidhealach (The Highland Association).

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The Royal National Mòd 2018 programme

The festival ran from October 12 to 20 and included many competitions and awards for people as young as seven years old. Whether you are fluent in Gaelic or still learning the language, everyone was welcomed to take part.

Ricky Hannaway, an Assistant Floor Manager and Runner Co-ordinator working on the Mòd, spoke about what impact festivals like this one has on the Gaelic community.

“There are only about 60 thousand Gaelic speakers,” Ricky explained. “So, to have a situation where you can put more emphasis on the culture, where people learn old songs, where people learn old arrangements of things when they learn instruments to go do musical events, it’s really good.

“Our culture is an oral tradition where we pass everything on, all the information, through word of mouth, spoken stories and songs. So now that we’ve got a place and a platform to do that it’s really good.”

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Dunoon presents… The Royal National Mòd 2018

During the Mòd festival, people celebrate old traditions of the Gaelic culture. But some believe this isn’t the best approach to keep the language alive, Ricky said.

“Some people don’t have an opinion of the Mòd of something that’s good, they think it’s a bit detrimental to the culture, thinking we’re always looking backwards. But I think it’s something that can preserve what we’ve got but has a forwarding outlook as well.”

Not only does Ricky work in the festival, but he also competes in it.

“It’s an absolute experience to be a part of the Mòd,” he said. “For years I sang in the Mod and I never knew anything about the media side of things. Now doing the media side of things, it’s great and it’s adventitious because I know the people involved in putting the Mòd together.”

Rip It Up – Inside the Simple Minds of Scotland’s Musical Geniuses

When thinking of popular music in Scotland, what comes to mind? Does one wonder about those extra 500 miles you’d be willing to walk just to be the man who walks a thousand miles to fall down at your door?

Maybe you reminisce about being around loved ones belting out Loch Lomond Hogmonay or the Paulo Nutinis and Simple Minds of the world come to mind. These are all great examples of what makes music in Scotland great, but they are just a few drops in a great ocean of musical magic, and diving beneath the surface reveals a vast magnitude of songs, genres and artists dating back to the dance hall days of the 1930’s. Enter Rip It Up, an exhibition celebrating Caledonian musical creativeness.

Working alongside BBC Scotland, the National Museum of Scotland has put together an exhibition that takes audiences on a journey through popular music history in Scotland. One of the foremost surprises about this exhibit is discovering all of the bands and artists that were born in Caledonia. It may surprise fans of legendary Australian rockers AC/DC  to learn that the iconic Young brothers were born in Cranhill, Glasgow, alongside original singer Bon Scott, who grew up in Ayr.

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AC/DC Guitarist Angus Young, who was born in Glasgow. Photo by Ed Vill.

Walking through the decades, this exhibit features many interactive portals, from jukeboxes to music videos, giving the visitor a chance to learn about the early days of Scottish folk, with key figures such as Hamish Imlach, to Billy Connelly’s short-lived group The Humblebums. 

Scotland is a great ocean of musical magic, and diving beneath the surface reveals a vast magnitude of songs, genres and artists dating back to the dance hall days of the 1930’s.

As the exhibition travels forward in time, the faces and names become more recognisable. Instruments and memorabilia from bands who became successful worldwide are proudly displayed behind thick glass and “no photography allowed” signs, from custom Bay City Rollers guitars to the sunglasses Ultravox singer Midge Ure wore during the iconic Live Aid event. It features striking visuals, from old punk rock posters to stadium gigs projected on walls, and the ever-changing playlist of great Scots artists, from In a Big Country to Many of Horror.

Rip-It-Up curator Stephen Allan explains why it is relevant to start at the very beginning and work towards where we are now in music history: “Between the objects, the AV and the music, people will be able to learn more about their favourite artists and see their treasured objects up close, but also to discover music that is new to them in a whistlestop tour of over six decades of Scottish pop.”  

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Musical Scots legends Simple Minds. photo by Stefan Brending

Many of the artists included in the exhibit were interviewed and feature on various videos played there. A continuous theme that emerges from these interviews is the sense of community and respect bands had for one another. Anyone who has lived in Scotland will be painfully aware of the cold, wet nights that can plague many of our months. Along with boredom, unemployment and creative energy, this seems to have sparked many bands that started in the working man’s clubs of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and went on to perform on the prominent stages all over the world.

Allan explains why this exhibit will relate to a wide audience: “Popular music is a shared experience and a really important one in many people’s lives. We want the exhibition to capture people’s imagination and allow them to reflect on their own experiences of listening to and enjoying music.”

Shirley Manson from the bands Garbage and Goodbye McKenzie applauds the National Museum of Scotland for recognising the depth and influence of Scottish artists: “Scotland has long deserved an examination of its rich musical heritage, the effects of which can be heard all over our globe today. While music is universal, and Garbage is an international band, being Scottish is a large part of who I am and has had a huge bearing on my work and our career.”

Scotland has inspired many bands that started in the working man’s clubs of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and went on to perform on the prominent stages all over the world.

A visit to this exhibit is essential for any young musician looking to turn their talent into a lifelong adventure or for the die-hard music fans who grew up with posters of these musicians hanging on their bedroom walls. Those who came before, and continue to create, are all represented under the banner of creative Caledonia. The exhibit will close on November 25, so be sure to catch it, before they rip it up and start again.

More Information on Rip It Up can be found here

As well as the main exhibition itself, students from our very own Napier University will be performing a night of Scottish songs from artists featured at Rip It Up, on Thursday 25th October. Tickets for the event, held at Summerhall, can be found here

 

St. Vincent announces Edinburgh show

Art-rock band St. Vincent have revealed that they will be bringing the MASSEDUCTION tour to Edinburgh this year.

This is after having no previous Scottish dates on the first UK leg of the tour last year.

MASSEDUCTION is the sixth album from the Texas based rock band, with previous releases including five solo records, and a collaboration with David Byrne of Talking Heads fame. The album was released in December last year, and was subsequently named The Guardian’s top album of 2017.

St. Vincent Tour Poster. Credit: St. Vincent on Twitter.

Annie Clark (lead singer of St. Vincent) is renowned for her live presence which has been paired with inventive visuals on previous shows. Unlike preceding album tours however, MASSEDUCTION has seen her remove the live band off stage and present herself as a solo act instead.

St. Vincent will play three dates in August this year. One at the Edinburgh Playhouse on the 26th, Leeds O2 Academy on the 28th and finishing at the Corn Exchange in Cambridge on the 29th. Pre-sale has opened for the Leeds and Cambridge dates, and more details can be found on St. Vincent’s Twitter. No word yet on when tickets for the Edinburgh date will go on sale.

Frightened Rabbit announce Glasgow festival

Scottish indie band Frightened Rabbit have announced they will host a mini festival in Glasgow’s SWG3’s Galvanizers Yard on the 1st of June. This is following the band’s ongoing sold out UK tour to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the album The Midnight Organ Flight.

The First Incident, named after a song on Frightened Rabbit’s debut album Sing The Greys, is planned to become a regular event should this first outing be a success. Support on the day will come from Leeds post punk band Hookworms, London based art-rock band Dama Scout, and Dundee pop band Be Charlotte.

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The lineup so far for The First Incident (Photo Credit: The First Incident)

The event will also see DJ sets going on late after the bands finish. Included in these are Frightened Rabbit, James Graham lead singer of Glasgow’s The Twilight sad, and Mike Palmer who is the guitarist for Edinburgh rock band We Were Promised Jetpacks. More DJs are to be announced as the event draws closer.

Glasgow based music blog Gold Flake Paint will also be curating an alternate stage with acts to be announced soon. There will also be poetry readings throughout the day, and food trucks on site for refreshments.

The Galvanizers Yard will also host Glasgow indie pop icons Belle & Sebastian, as well as a two night residency from dance rock band LCD Soundsystem in April this year. Tickets for The First incident pre-sale went up this morning.

Django Django’s Frontman Vinny Neff Extended Interview

EN4News’s extended interview with Vin Neff, Django Django’s frontman and songwriter at Edinburgh’s Alternative Peers’ Ball.

“I Can’t Quit” – Review

The Vaccines are back with their fairly anticipated single ‘I Can’t Quit’.

I was slightly nervous about this considering the experimentation of their last album, ‘English Graffiti’ was slightly disappointing. However they have went back to basics with this new single – hopefully a good sign of what’s to come from upcoming album, ‘Combat Sports’.

‘I Can’t Quit’ begins with a simple, but effective,  Brit rock style riff. It seems they’re taking a leaf out of bands like The Kinks and The Undertone’s books. The simple guitar emphasises the edgier vocals. This simplicity creates a decent impact when the chorus kicks in, introducing the bass.

Upcoming album, ‘Combat Sports’ is out 30th March 2018. Credit: iTunes

The chorus is catchy but sounds very familiar to a couple of other songs. The two breaks are efficient as they don’t slow down or break the flow of the song.  The solo is catchy and short to keep the listener anticipating the final chorus.

Overall I’m happy with The Vaccine’s rudimentary return to simple, indie, Brit rock. This single wouldn’t feel out of place on their first album, ‘What Did You Expect from the Vaccines?, their most successful album and my personal favourite.

Hopefully, they’ll become a better competitor to the majority of Britain’s current derivative and imitative smorgasbord of indie trash.

Charles Manson: How Music Morphed the Murderous Cult Leader

Charles Manson orchestrated attacks that led to the deaths of nine people in 1969, including actress Sharon Tate. 

On Sunday Charles Manson was pronounced dead at the age of 83. His legacy: two nights of killings, 169 stab wounds and 22 gun shot wounds.

Charles Manson during his time in prison. Photo Credit: Huffington post

The man built upon delusions of grandeur managed to manipulate runaway teens to commit the heinous crimes.  The group responsible gained national notoriety as the Manson Family.

For much of Manson’s troubled life, music played an influential role.  His original goal was to pursue a record deal and when he failed it ultimately played a part in his undoing.

As a regular law breaker in his early years, he spent half his first 32 years of life behind bars.  Learning guitar during his time in prison led to a fascination of the blues and song-writing.  Urged by one of his fellow inmates to record some his tracks forged Manson on a quest upon release to get his music public.

For the next couple of years, he spent time rubbing shoulders with Beach Boy Dennis Wilson and producer Terry Melcher.  Wilson, much like the Family members was taking in by Manson’s charisma and charm.

Although praised upon his guitar skills, Terry Melcher dealt the blow to Manson’s musical aspirations by refusing him a record contract.  The cult leader’s aura failed to conceal his lack of raw talent.

The Beach Boys went on to record a Manson-written song Cease to Exit, under the title “Never Learn Not to Love”, with Dennis Wilson taking full writing credits.  Both situations left Manson furious and vengeful.

He ordered his gang to a house owned by Terry Melcher in Hollywood Hills to slaughter the occupants.  The next 24 hours was to be the defining moment that would lead Manson to his so desired worldwide fame.

The murder scenes had its own musical reference with the words Helter Skelter, a song by the Beatles written on the walls in Sharon Tate’s blood.  Manson’s interpretation of the song mixed with his obsession with the Book of Revelations led him to envisage the start of a race war between whites and blacks and his murders, in the hope of framing the black community would be the catalyst.

It was a barbaric concoction created in a mind of absolute lunacy.  A successful musical career was inevitably unfeasible for someone as insane as Manson, however his brief spell as a musician still carries cultural relevance after the murders.

Bands such as Guns N’ Roses, and the Lemonheads have covered different versions of Charles Manson songs.  Rock singer Marilyn Manson created his name using a juxtaposition of two cultural icons; Marilyn Monroe and Charles himself.

Charles Manson ironically featured as the front cover for popular music magazine, Rolling Stone.  The headline was as follows: “Charles Manson – The incredible story of the most dangerous man alive”.  Music aside this is the statement Manson should be remembered for.


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