Gigs and Music

Eurovision 2014

Most of you probably hate Eurovision but you’re just lying to yourselves. It’s the passively aggressive political cheesy crapness that makes it fantastic. I probably stick to watching Eurovision every year better than I do celebrating Christmas and with the event only a few weeks away I have trawled through the entries so you don’t have to with my application to be next in line to the BBC Eurovision commentary throne. 

Who I want to win:

The Netherlands - I'd actually buy this, meaning it's definitely not going to do well at Eurovision.
Denmark - Bruno Mars’ Scandinavian cousin demonstrates how lyrics mean sweet F all and all you need is a catchy song..
UK (...of course) - The Soviet belt will love this "power to the people" stuff, maybe we have a chance? Ha...

Who will Probably Win:

Sweden - Okay we get it Sweden, you’re good at Eurovision. And everything else...
Armenia - Don't be fooled by the first 2 minutes, it changes pace and gets good.
Hungary - Radio 1 would be all over this if it wasn't Eurovision, plus he’s pretty.

The Worst:

Georgia - Most colourful lyrics, if you can catch them.
France - France obviously have some more pressing issues than Eurovision but this will probably still beat us.
Macedonia - Imagine those women out on hen parties singing karaoke and dancing and you're there.

Other “Highlights”

Albania - Sounds a bit like a poor man’s Shakira filmed on a go-pro at Tentsmuir, at least they take their horse-riding safety seriously - helmets are the new sexy.

Austria - With an innuendo filled name like Conchita Wurst, this had to sound like a Bond theme.

Azerbaijan - If you want to watch a lady grope some instruments and be blown about by a wind machine, then here is what your poison.

Belarus -  Surprisingly, not the only cake euphemism of the year.

Finland - Finland’s answer to One Direction: dip ‘em in bleach and make them sing about death. Classic Finland.

Greece - Ah so this is what they do to the British Lads they arrest in Zanté.

Iceland - The Beastie Boys eccentric cousins reinventing peace and love for Millennials.

Israel -  The angry Israeli women’s 'Single ladies'.

Latvia - A song about the munchies. Thank you Latvia.

Malta - Tonight Matthew we want to be Mumford and Sons.

Norway - Keeping out of tradition as ever..

Poland - Britain, what have you done to Poland.

Portugal - Ricky Martin chundered on Portugal.

Russia - Sochi seems to have blown Russia's budget this year.

Jordan Raycroft - Self Titled Debut Album Review

I first heard Jordan Raycroft perform within my first fortnight in Canada as a fresh-faced frost-bitten exchange student in the University town of Guelph. A small and somewhat non-descript town in Ontario can appear pretty bleak in the middle of Winter, so while escaping the cold I came across an open mic night on campus and Jordan was one of the hosts. His sound check alone blew the majority of other acts out of the water.  After conquering much of Eastern Canada in recent years, he is about to set out on a tour of everywhere in between Guelph and the Pacific Ocean alongside the release of his self titled debut album.

His voice and style shadows fellow Canadian Dallas Green of City and Colour as well as sharing a similar musical background: proving that providing screamo songwriters with acoustic guitars is an almost logical combination. Jordan was bitten by the performing bug when he serendipitously ended up in his high school's production of "Anything Goes" after volunteering at football practice. Like a true all-rounder Jordan is nearing the end of his studies in Criminal Law but the jury's out on whether he'll  really need that back-up career.

On the debut album the raw soulful tone of his voice compliments tracks such as "Letters" and Dingoes" which express the pain of love when it is lost. Although I am a sucker for a sad guy in the corner with a guitar, the album has another side to it with several crowd-pleasers that will give you repetitive strain from tapping your feet; "We the People" and "Cold Hands" being the most infectious earworms. At only 21 years old he shows sophistication and versatility in his musical ability and pin-point accuracy in his lyrics to bare his soul to the listener - a true talent, demonstrating skills beyond what his age and experience should suggest.

The album was by no means a solo project with the help from donations from his already stable fan base and the growing number of emerging young musicians in Guelph. Rose Brokenshire provides harmonies which melt effortlessly together with Jordan's - most notably on "Amazon Woman" - and Graham Mclaughlin provides accompaniment on any instrument thrown at him to add another dimension to each song on the album. A somewhat accidental flirt with music and performance has thrived to produce an impressive debut record showcasing a true authentic talent which should not go unnoticed.

Jordan Raycroft's debut album is available worldwide on itunes here or if you catch him on tour you can get a shiny hardcopy!

    Fleetwood Mac - Air Canada Centre 16/04/2013

    Back home in Scotland I heard that Fleetwood Mac were scheduling a North American tour and luckily it corresponded with my time in Guelph, Canada. I didn't know that I was going to be so lucky in that they were playing Toronto on the night I finished my third year exams.

    The Air Canada Centre is massive, I don't see how anyone without ringside seats could see a hockey puck in there. Before the gig even began the arena started to smell distinctly like Marijuana making the 70's experience more authentic. To get a feeling for the audience at this concert - I had to get to my seat from a different door because the guy at the end of my row had "a dodgy knee." Saying that, by the end of the night I think I had developed repetitive strain from tapping my feet so much. Not everyone at the gig was old though, the hipster kid in front of me kept whipping out his Ipad and looking up Stevie and Lindsay's history. Bit late mate (also who takes an Ipad to a gig?). Another thing I think is a faux pas is taking pictures of the TV screens at big concerts, it's entirely pointless. It's just as bad as the people who spend the whole time watching a gig through their camera screen.

    Now onto the music (at last), as a band you'd barely be able to notice they were in their mid-sixties. The range of some of Stevie's solos had to be brought down a range or two but the classic haunting tone was still there. Stevie would spend half of her time seducing the crowd and the other half holding a gaze with Lindsey. The classic Fleetwood Mac sexual tension that brings in the crowds. Lindsey Buckingham sounded just as he would have in 1975 and he had the guitar stamina to match. The ever charismatic Mick Fleetwood took every opportunity to use his chimes as well as some impressively long drum fills. He reminds me of a kind of drunken Santa Claus where he shows an adorable side bringing his two young daughters on stage and yet we all know he is a bit mental. John McVie was relatively shy as ever compared to his band mates but received just as roaring a cheer from the crowd. They were brought on for two encores and in classic Fleetwood Mac style they didn't seem at all prepared at all (sarcasm), with  costumes, light shows and special arrangements prepared - alas no marching band.

    As a native Scot, it was strange to experience a Canadian crowd - in comparison they were SO tame! The crowd were barely singing back and only a few people where standing up cheering - mainly middle aged men rocking out. It was not nearly as insane as it could have been but I am sure their date with Glasgow will show them what a real crowd is like! You'll be in for a great time!

    Little Gems - Canada  Edition

    I serendipitously managed to land myself in Guelph - Canada's folk music capital- for my University exchange. By now you must have realised I like to be a music-beagle trying to find as many new bands as I can and although I've only been here for three weeks and already I have been overwhelmed by the amount of talented musicians I've seen/heard so far. Most of these musicians are from Guelph or Ontario but there are the odd exceptions...

    Ptarmigan -  Imagine Mumford and Son's before they all had beards and you've got these guys.

    Jordan Raycroft - You have probably heard me rambling on about the Open Stage Night at the Bullring which has become my new campus home. Well this guy hosts it and he usually blows everyone else out of the water. If you like City and Colour (and beards) I can guarantee you will like him...

    Sarah Felker - Another of my Bullring gems, this girl came on and silenced the place which rarely happens! She'd definitely one to watch UK...

    Alanna Gurr - She played in Guelph (her hometown) the other night and she is quite new on the Canadian folk scene but she is very deserving of that place. There isn't really any other way to describe her than lovely. If you like First Aid Kit from Sweden, you'll like Alanna.

    The Good For Noughts - (See what they did there?)These guys played at Jimmy Jazz's a week ago and although I didn't stay for long (due to a poutine craving) I was really impressed with what I heard. They almost reminded me of early Goo Goo Dolls stuff, and most of you will remember by infatuation with them.

    Inlet Sound - These young whippersnappers have the essence of Canadian folk/pop by crafting their new album in log cabins and managing to get the word "gravy" into a song about love.

    Chilly Gonzalez  - My friend Jordan introduced me to this guy. It's not really like anything else on here but you might remember me mentioning Pretty Lights before? You may also remember my appreciation for an amalgamation of electronic, jazz, soul and hip hop. Yes? Then listen on.

    Mike Cavanaugh - See on your facebook homepage, click on messages and then on 'Other' and, like me, you might have likes from some musicians who have been stalking who you've been liking and are asking you to listen to their stuff. Although it sounds a bit creepy most of them are pretty darn good, for example:

    Mo Kenney - The BBC's Canadian sister, CBC, has a radio station entirely dedicated to playing independent music (take note BBC) and this was the first song I heard when I tuned in. It's a lovely little catchy number.

    Your Neck of the Woods/Ben Doerksen - This song is written by leadman Ben Doerksen and I know this is a terrible version but it was just to get a feel for it. You can hear a clearer(and less country) version here on his myspace, I strongly recommend you check it out

    Beth Moore -  She seems to have made quite a name for herself already with awards here there and everywhere. Her voice sounds pretty country but she doesn't play much of your typical country and instead this produces a really nice tone! Also being a fan of the Wizard of Oz I absolutely adored this video!

    Gavin Slate -  This song is ridiculously powerful, especially alongside the video. Just like Frightened Rabbit sing with a Scottish accent, Gavin sings with a Canadian accent and not the typical American twang everyone else seems to. He is also a big fan of Travis, so you might have noticed a subtle Scottish twang too!

    Yukon Blonde - This is what all Canadians look like; beard with some face. These guys has their song "My Girl" was used in a recent promo video for Canada which I watched before even coming here ( and they have even been name-dropped in How I Met Your Mother, by Robin of course.

    The Wooden Sky - These guys have been around in Canada since the early 2000's and have crossed into Europe a few times. Gavin's, the lead singer, voice is amazing live and the clip below doesn't quite do it justice but check out here instead:

    Mount Sharp - These guys were the soundtrack to my St Patricks day and I had a great time, but I can't remember. However I looked them up afterwards and they definitely deserve the numerous encores I was drunkenly demanding...

    The Caves is found in the Cowgate of Edinburgh which has a number of famous gig venues and is notorious with the city's famous ghost tours and the area history as a river of sewage. The venue is a wonderfully lit little place lined in flagstones and with the tell-tale "underground Edinburgh" scent (anyone who has been on a Vault tour will know what I mean).
    Mike Macfarlane

    When we got there the first warm-up act was on and he was a very Frightened Rabbit-esc called Mike Macfarlane who doesn't have any songs on release, or youtube or anything but I hope this changes! Obviously proud of his new guitar effects pedal he did well to captivate and audience as the first act on, even using a member of the crowd as a slave by holding up his set list! He had at least one stand out song in my mind that he said was about Tramadol and if I can get a copy I will let you all know how to do the same though I am sure just asking on his facebook would do! 

    Kat Healy
    Following from Mike was Kat Healy who was a woman who seemed awefully sweet but when she came out with songs about affairs and lust you realised she was that bit more feisty! She had three people on stage with her and that was the most people on the stage at one time for the whole evening and I thought that perhaps less is more as the venue is pretty small and her voice got drowned out by the backing instruments at times. Still, her songs were really nice and she has a wonderful voice and she even had free promo-EP's to hand out at the end which is always a winner!
    Robin Adams

    By now some of the audience was getting impatient unusually rowdy as the noise level in the venue had increased which was a shame as Robin Adams was next on and he was ridiculously talented! It was just a shame people kept talking over him, at least he could have solace in the fact that the majority of people standing were still mesmerised. I recommend you take a listen to some of his songs on facebook as I can almost guarantee you will go on and buy his albums.

    Mike Rosenberg
    For a second I thought there was going to be a fourth support act, Stu Larsen who I recoginised from previous Passenger stalking. However after some guitar arranging he scurried off stage and on walked Mike Rosenberg aka Passenger, we need not worry though as we would be seeing Stu again later. Mike opened with a new song, or at least one I had never heard before, called "Words" and I got a taste of what it is like to see passenger live without knowing his songs word for word. He preforms brilliantly and this was shown by the silence in the crowd hanging onto every word. Mike has a repitoire of songs that any well-established musician would be proud of and it's like a treasure trove, whenever you go to listen you discover a new album full of gems or a new collaboration on youtube. Mike's gig was filled with periods of silence with intervals of uproar and applause, but he liked to prefrom outside the norm by coming down into the crowd and leaving the microphone and amp aside. I said that Stu would be back didn't I? Mike invited him on to duet with him on the track "Heart's on Fire" and their voices complemented each other beautifully. I could happily listen to those two sing together all the time, I highly reccomend you look up some of their duets on the old YouTube.

    Stu & Mike
    After Mike finished I was determind to head out and get a cheesy "crazed fan" photo and on the way I caught one with Stu Larsen as well. Now I can say I have met both Joshua Radin and Mike Rosenberg and that my life has been made.

    Belladrum 08/07

    8(approx) hours on a bus + 3 Melodicas + 1 Crumhorn + 1 Alan Bain = Belladrum 2007

    i hope you were one of the privilaged few to have doned the Wellies and suncream and found your way to Belladrum Tarten Heart Festival as it was one heck of a festival!
    For those who have Never heard of this glorious festival(Shame on you) it is a Music Festival hidden away in the Belladrum italian gardens in Beauly near inverness. it is family friendly, but just generally everyone is a lot friendlier than those at other fesTivals!

    DAY 1

    After finally getting to sleep the previous night i woke up on Thurday(09/08) to blinding sunlight and thought "SCORE!" i had to catch the 11am boat from Stromness, which is thankfully not that much of a trek considering the amount i ended up taking. So after hauling everything to the terminal i met Andrew there and we sat working out why there was a Salmon printed on a "Caution Wet Floor" sign. turns out that is the company logo as it was a Salmon Product. Look for yourselves. So on the boat we saw a crooner and passed St, Johns head "which stands at a height of 346 meters and is the highst vertical sea cliff in the whole of Great Britain." We decided to get food and Andrew had his coffee completing the evoloution of man. We played a few rounds of "Who am i" and i will always remember i am Snoopy forever more. AFT.
    At Scrabster we caught a bus to inverness even though responsible Andrew had some ticket problems everything was fine. The "Thats what she said's" were rolling out from the word go. The bus journey was redicoulously long at 4 hours (ish) and detouring through very similar Scottish Villages. We passed two "Patience the Baker's" which was the best shop sign, except from a possible "Curl up and Dye" yet it is not confirmed.
    Arriving in inverness we spotted a few belladrumers and instead of waiting for a bus we decided to get a taxi. They got the name mixed up but it was a good thing as Ronald Fleming will be continuing his search for a long haired male about 18 who goes by the name of "kyle." We arrived at the site with teh sun still shining and they did proper bag searches and we got all wrist banded up and looked around see see if we could see any more orkney folk but we couldn't so we found the section nearest the entrance. We attempted to put the tent up ourselves but "Even sam couldn't get it up" so we aquired some help from our new neighbours who i think went by the name Doug.? Well we got the tent set up and cracked open the.....minestrone! And cider. The sun certainly had its hat one and smiling down as "Oh my it is SO sunny!" was a frequent statement. After our soup and brief sunbathe we wapped out the frisbee and went on a wander. After some frisbee we went into the Main Site. Walking into the place was so surreal and different to what is expected of a festival site. You were surrounded by trees and mountains. it wasn't just in a field surrounded by more fields. Andrew was determind to show me the Garden stage but it was still fenced off for some reason unknown. We walked around and found many an exotic food van including Japnese Noodles, Hog Roast and Crepes. On our return to the capsite we founda Porridge stand and Hetty, izzy, Mirium, Ruth and Kate(some more Orkney People). Thay had not been into the main site yet so we showed them around and heard the echo of the "Oh Wow!" 's and "Cool!" 's made by myself. Well the first food stop was naturally the crepe van.
    Time passed by with us wandering along and when it was dark Andrew and i were considering what to do now when we heard the opening chords to Don McLean's "American Pie" coming from the Grass Roots Tent. This meant we ran dodging drunks holding Bratwursts towards the tent Yelling "YEAH THATS iT!" and "THAT'S ONLY THE BEGiNNiNG, iT'S OK!" We mingled our way to the very front and found ourselves jumping around to some brilliant songs! it was a brilliant start to the Festival! Returning to the campsite we decided to wander around to see what randoms we could meet they included : Callum, "Hey this guy's pretty hot", "Sweaters mate?" Ross + friends, "No i have some!...Nahhhhhh!", and Ewan (i think). After making friends and a pot of minestrone soup we felt we could go to bed.

    Day 2...

    After a rather uncomfortable sleep on basically the ground and woken up about 3 times by dicks with whistles and airhorns the only thought in the morning was porridge. The queue was long and there was clouds in the sky but we were hungry, so we waited. it seemed that just as the queue began to move the sun came out from behind the clouds. in then end we had Porride with brown sugar and cream! Oh it was heaven! The doors were meant to open at 11 but they only opened at 11:30. The garden stage was still cordened off which was strange but it turned out that the wooden tartan heart(left) was still being hoisted up. As soon as they opened the fence we rushed in to find a spot. it was actually pretty empty so that was easy. We picked a bit quite high up and saw everyone walking in, including Darth Vader and his mini me. We saw the end of Jazz on the Lawn and they did a cover of Sunshine of your Love, we were liking the covers. After them was Crash My Model Car who were good, but a tad samey. However, they did give us a postcard! We saw Nuru Kane who were from Senegal, " l say LiLiLiLiLi, you say LoLoLoLoLo?!" We went for food but also achieved a news paper, "The Gardening Times." it was a paper for the festival and they printed it daily. i thought that was cool! The next part of the festival was to lead on to be THE highlight of the weekend. We went to the Venus Flytrap Palais, which was known to have the wierd and interesting attractions of the festival. As we wander in we hear furious violins and guitar playing. At first we thought it was the Polish Homecoming but it was the Luminescent Orchestrii . The next song they played was called " Knockin' " and was nothing like the previous, it had beatboxing and lyrics like "so show me the money." and " Theres chicken in the fridge, half a bottle of wine." We were instantly impressed be how different the band was and by one of the violinist's dresses! We found out they were selling CD's and so were were basically infront of the queue. We stayed in the Flytrap as we thought it would be more interesting. The next band on were called "Circulus" they were, well quite hard to describe lets just say a "renaissance prog-rock band" they were all dressed in renaissance clothing, one played a crum horn(google it, i had too) and other woodwind from that era. They reminded us of teachers, english or drama teachers gone mad. We also saw a Biology teacher from our school in the crowd.

    in the evening we thought it would be difficult to get a good spot for the magic numbers so we went to the garden stage before the Peatbog Faeries(who were about 3 hours before the Magic Numbers). We had heard of these guys and the only reason we thought they would be alright was because they have an album named "Croftwork." They mixed bagpipes and fiddles with trumpets and trombones ect. it would have been more enjoyable if the annoying Neds infront of us. After was Alabama 3 well lets just say there was a guy who got bollock naked infront of us and they had a song called techno with the chorus line being" We don't listen to no techno anymore!" We did not like Alabama 3. After being in the crowd for so long we then decided to fuck it and go to the top of the hill, but first we stopped of to have a Bratwurst. When the Magic Numbers came on it was brilliant as we could see everyone in the crowd jumping around, but this did make us want to join them. There was somebody throwing and juggling fire so we decided to watch that, though it brung us to join the crowd. Andrew had an awkward moment with a 40(ish) year old after being a bit too sympathetic. At the end of there set they brung martha wainwright on stage and they also had inflatable versions of themselves. Back at the campsite we thought it would be easier if we slept tonight and partied tomorrow.

    DAY 3

    With one hour extra in bed a shower(a cold one) and fuelled with coffee we went to the main site which actually opened at 11 this time. With waffles being the special at the Strawberry Van (the only Soft Fruit Producer in Deeside at that). We had waffles with strawberries, melted chocolate and ice cream that "melts lN the waffle"(emphasis on the in, however the ice cream was placed nowhere near the waffle itself). Waffle was a good choice. There wasn't really anyone we particularly wanted to see until about five so there was a lot of wandering around. On our travels we met the other Orkney folk. They were looking for masks for the masked ball tonight, so we joined them. it turned out that on the specialised mask and cloak stall there was only one mask left so we decided to make them ourselves. We found a scarf and split in into eight using nail scissors and a lot of ripping. Well to say the least the made us look like somewhere in between bandits and robbers. The next band was the Hoosiers. it was pouring down

    with rain yet there was still a crowd forming. The really sad thing was that some people just left after "Worried about Ray" which only dicks do. Remember the Luminescent Orchestrii? Well we found out they were playing at the Potting Shed at 8:30 so we made our way over there. We spotted them watching the band before them and Andrew and Hetty went to speak with them. Another one wandered up and so the three of us spoke to him. His name was Sxip(Pronounced Skip) and was the guitarist. He also said that they were playing in Orkney on the 24th! We situated ourselves under a marquee though when we started playing Sxip urged us all to dance, which brought in everyone else to do so too. The atmosphere was so good and everyone was having a good time, i even forgot it was raining. Everyone even got up to tango. They were the highlight of the whole weekend. When we finally decided to leave we went to see James Who were the main headliners. We went along not particularly interested in watching them but to try and get as many people to dance with us. We randomly met the Calum guy again and some other people one who lived down the road, a father, and some of calums friends. "it was so fun my tummy hurt!" That night was so good and from what i can remember will not be forgotten!

    THe final morning was a cold one, we thought we should shower this morning but the showers were not producing hot water. They let andrew in for free as he said he would brave the cold but it din't clean much as the grease was still in his hair. Packing up the oversized tent was difficult especially in the rain. we ended up with about 3 more bags than we came with. Getting out of the place happened fast and we had some time in lnverness where we bought bread and spreads to make some sort of sandwhiches on the bus. The journey back to orkney was very swift and the television programmes on the boat kept us awake. Orkney greeted us with a warm shower, Bliss! Though nothing compared to the weekend!

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