GOING back over a year’s worth of experiences to pick out the best moments is somewhere between the ultimate high – so many great times relived - and a horror story. How do you choose just one best gig, best drama, interview?
Best gig of the year
Our 2017 had more than its share of the good stuff: legends rolling back the years to remind you what made them stars in the first place; newcomers who just don’t know how good they are yet. Then there’s the third kind – those giant talents who warm you in the rays of their sun.
Instantly up there, pacing in the contenders' green room, would be some of the legends passing through Inverness this year such as Status Quo Aquostic, The Beach Boys and Lulu. All have hours of songs to choose from and rolled them out with style, defying their age at the same time.
The Aquostic shw saw the band quickly get off their acoustic chairs for business as usual in front of a crowd that loved them as everyone grieved a little for the late Rick Parfitt .
The Beach Boys without Brian Wilson is so compromised that there was a bittersweet element to a gig that was very nearly perfect. With its atmospheric backdrops taking the responsive crowd back to California in the 60s, the original members and their superb musicians made the songs a two-way love-in, band and crowd.
Lulu bounced onstage at Eden Court “looking a good few decades shy of her 69 years” and her secret was no secret by the end of a show that rewarded her with a standing ovation – she still loves music, still has the “God-given beast that is her crackling, soul-queen’s voice which came across as strong as the one her 15-year-old self unveiled in Shout back in 1964” and is too down-to-earth to be a diva and her fans love her for that.
Full Status Quo (Aquostic) review here:
Full Beach Boys review here:
Full Lulu review here:
Lloyd Cole’s show was all about the nostalgia as he offered up a set from 1988 to 1996 inspired by his latest release – and his wry view on everything from ageing to his own moody 1980s press shots. Two songs in, Perfect Blue found the songwriter admitting: "Whatever I touch turns blue!” he said, that signature being just one of the reasons behind an unforgettable gig.
Full Lloyd review here: http://www.whatson-north.co.uk/Whats-On/Music/REVIEW-Lloyd-Cole-07042017.htm
Sometimes catching a legendary band in your hometown is thrill enough - almost. Was that ample compensation for the slightly lacklustre Libertines gig? The crowd seemed to enjoy it more than frontmen Pete and Carl. The Happy Mondays saw stamina the order of the day as Shaun Ryder, Bez and Rowetta genuinely made taking the money and running sound a lot of fun. More Manchester talents ChameleonsVox faithfully honoured songs melodic enough to need only Mark Burgess’s charismatic performance to make you marvel The Chameleons had never gone stellar.
Full Happy Mondays gig here:
Full ChameleonsVox review here:
Traditional music offered some exceptional nights – two favourites being Siobhan Miller’s voice let loose on classic Scottish folksongs, passed on to her through her career by people like her dad via the late Sheila Stewart and Dick Gaughan.
Highlights of the set included The Unquiet Grave with its ghosts kept in limbo by the grief of the living.
In the review there was a taste of the banter onstage: “Introducing The Unquiet Grave, Siobhan had already confessed to a taste for “sad dreich ballads” with Aaron Jones adding: “We will cheer it up later with a Leonard Cohen number!”
Full Siobhan review: http://www.whatson-north.co.uk/Whats-On/Music/REVIEW-Siobhan-Miller-15032017.htm
Also with a new album at the heart of it was Blas gig Lauren McColl: The Seer – composed by Lauren to celebrate the story of the Brahan Seer – and which brought together talents united first as youngsters by the feis movement.
Full Lauren McColl review:
New Tore festival Woodzstock had the most dramatic headliner opening, the red and black costumed Urban Voodoo Machine marching slowly out of the dusk for "bourbon-soaked gypsy blues bop n stroll where somehow you’re also hearing country, latin, rockabilly, jazz – all with punk attitude”.
Newcomers with that priceless commodity – originality - included Northern Roots party animals Vegan Leather “led by star turn Gianluca Bernacchi”. A first sighting of Declan Welsh And The Decadent West also impressed at XpoNorth with frontman Declan looking his crowd straight in the eyes as he performed grade-A songs with a tight band behind him.
Stand-outs at Northern Roots had been two local female singer songwriters Carrbridge’s Rachel Sermanni winning over a mesmerised crowd and first Belladrum Records signing, Cromarty’s Tamzene, who hushed her crowd to instant silence.
But the two gold star sets tying as my best gig of 2017 were Canadian bluesman Matt Andersen in the Tooth and Claw and Kathryn Joseph at Inverness Cathedral Hall. Matt's gig: "... one man and his guitar settled onto the stage and gave a masterclass in what a perfect gig can look like.
And Kathryn owned the room with one key element being “ ... the voice going from little girl to devastated whisper, big raw surge to cracked-voiced sorceress”.
Both are true originals who lit up small venues with their songwriting and knockout performances. MC
Full Matt review:
Full Kathryn review:
Read best drama and best interview elsewhere on www.whatson-north.co.uk