Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Emma Pollock and Grandmaster Flash. January 2016

Emma Pollock and Grandmaster Flash. Live gig reviews. 29 January 2016. Glasgow.

Appearing on the same blustery night in Glasgow, but sadly not on the same stage, these two acts performing in two recycled church buildings 200 yards apart probably reflect why I love the live music scene in Glasgow so much. There is always something happening, and something for all tastes.

Emma Pollock. Oran Mor. January 2016

Oran Mor, Glasgow

On the final weekend of the Celtic Connections festival Emma Pollock, accompanied at times by 11 other musicians, launched her new solo album, In Search of Harperfield. Her third solo album since The Delgados split up 10 years ago, with much energy in that time being put into running the Chemikal Underground record label that seems to single-handedly power Scottish indie music. She was performing in Oran Mor, the former Kelvinside Parish Church built in 1862, the bar-come-venue-come-theatre space, now adorned with some of Alasdair Gray's finest works.With a nod to the usual noisy chatter from the bar that often overwhelms the sound from the stage in this space, she acknowledged that any gaps between tracks as they undertook this ambitious set, would be covered by the bar noise. However she had nothing to fear in this regard as she fully held the attention of a rapt audience. Accompanied at times by (what is becoming her house string section) The Cairn Quartet, singer Siobhan Wilson, RM Hubbert (who wrote and performs on one of the new album tracks) and BDYPRTS as backing singers there was a bit of shuffling on and off stage, but it was a gig that felt like a family party with a congenial host. At the heart of it are some mighty fine tunes. House On The Hill, written during her Burns Unit days, shows what a great voice for folk music she has if she chose to go in that direction. Intermission, Clemency and Parks and Recreation are stand out tracks for me.

It is a great album, go buy it here.

Grandmaster Flash. Cottiers. January 2016

Cottiers Theatre, Glasgow

We dashed away before the end of the Emma Pollock gig to go 200 yards away to the former Dowanhill United Presbyterian Church. Designed by William Leiper and built in 1866. With fine stained glass and interior decoration by Daniel Cottier, the vacant church has been running for 30 years as Cottiers. A bar, restaurant and theatre space the owners, the Four Acres Charitable Trust continue to slowly restore the church to its former glories. This year they have re-instated the old church organ and perform afternoon concerts on it.

This made it a seemingly incongruous place to find one of the pioneers of hip-hop DJing and mixing on a wet Friday night, however Grandmaster Flash seemed quite at home. He probably isn't the first grandmaster to stand where the alter previously stood in this old church, but it was just appy, nostalgic fare he was dishing out. No longer accompanied by the Furious Five he stood in front of the Cottiers apse with his turntables, playing like the world's cheeriest wedding DJ. He may well have been mixing and scratching with gusto, resplendent in his bespoke Puma gear, but it was hard to see past a crowd of sweaty Glaswegians who were kept bouncing and clapping by their MC. We had a short David Bowie section keeping it topical, someone he spoke of having a lot of respect for. "Glasgow. Let's Go" and "Here we go, here we go, here we go" were as close to any chants or rapping on display, but that was never what he brought to the music he worked on. A quick encore brought us his own tune, White Lines, mixed into White Stripes song Seven Nation Army for a finale. I left with a big smile on my face, as did he I think.

Grandmaster Flash performing in
an old church in Glasgow. Bit weird.

Two old Glasgow churches, two diverse performances by two masters at their game. It's the future for our places of worship.

live review, gig review, Emma Pollock, Glasgow, Cottiers, Oran Mor, Grandmaster Flash

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