the double-act who were Morrissey and Marr before Morrissey and Marr were Mom'ssey and Marr (ifyou get my drift . . .). ‘I started doing shows on my own two-and-a-half years ago.just locally in pubs in south-east London. i do like playing. and I began to ﬁnd it frustrating that Squeeze tour in blocks, then we'd have blocks of not doing anything — albeit that we‘re writing and recording. But I missed playing gigs in the meantime. l take my career very seriously, but it's important not to take the whole business of it too seriously. I remember years ago being precious about getting up in a pub — thinking. “Nah, I can't do that.“ It's something that a lot of pe0ple go through.‘ Acoustic guitar in hand, Tilbrook will be moseying through a grab-bag of covers. Squeeze hits, Squeeze misses. and overlooked nooks from a peerless back catalogue stretching over thirteen albums, 23 world tours and seventeen years. All the way back to the pop icons‘ (and that’s what they are, no dispute, pal) debut single, 1977's ‘Packet Of Three EP'. The point is, this is one national insitution that isn't cloaked in archaic cobwebs and reverend mustiness. Last year‘s cracking Some Fantastic Place proved that Squeeze and the Difford and Tilbrook creative force were still vital. ‘The thing that bothers me is that in many people's eyes our past outweighs our present. Obviously in my eyes that isn’t the case - and if l felt that we weren‘t doing stuff that wasn’t at least better than what we've done before, it
' I )7. I. i’ . _ )4, I I
ﬁll?- Fresh blow
The OauId Blast Orchestra have established what concertlna player (and ‘list’ folk-person) Holman Chalmers identifies as their own
distinctive musical ‘flngerprint’ since .
their inception in 1990. Their particular amalgamation of genres transcends any simple classification, both within any given piece and in the overall make-up of their music.
Most listeners feel that the band are best heard live, and further opportunities are now available to do so in a tour which takes in the three major Scottish centres forthe first time. It coincides with the release of their second album on Gordon Stevenson’s imaginative Eclectic Records (home not only to Oauld Blast, but also Michael Marra, Peter ilardinl, and Savourna Stevenson).
‘Ourga’s Feast’ may not have the fire, excitement and sheer theatricality of their best stage performances, but it is a fine illustration of the range and quality of their music, from the simplicity of lion Shaw’s lovely ‘Belvedere’ through to the strident aggression of Steve Kettley’s ‘March of the Undecided’. Each tune takes on its own particular character, and the group sound which emerges at the end succeeds — somewhat mysteriously - in being both highly distinctive and notably multi-faceted all at once.
Folk and jazz are the principal but by no means only building blocks for
The cauld Blast orchestra tunes which take on complexity from the way in which melodic lines are interwoven and instrumental textures are built up (they have no shortage of choice in that department). Five of the eight band members have contributed compositions, although most of them are subject to much collaborative shaping and reshaping within the band before emerging in their final form. ‘We don’t play anything that we are not all happy about,’ says lionnar. ‘Everything we do is reached by a process of consensus, and everybody is able to play what they want — nobody is simply being an accompanist, and everyone in the band is very committed to the music. We hope that the album will show how our music has evolved since we made “Savage Dance” in 1990.’ (Joe Alexander) The Cauld Blast Orchestra play The Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh on Fri 18, and the Old Athenaeum in Glasgow on Sat 19.
' I j! I .1 4‘. gr.“ , 7/ '
Blen Tilbrook wouldn‘t be worth carrying on.
Now the Difford/Tilbrook partnership is 2i-years-old (‘The big thing was when l realised that Chris and i had been writing together for twenty years. it wasn‘t a big thing when it was eighteen or nineteen years!’) and the key to the pop palace is in the post. Tilbrook, though. the soul of geezerly modesty, still gets a thrill from outside approval. Why,just this very morning he received a tape of a cover of ‘Love‘s Crashing Waves‘, a great (naturally) single from the Dijfonl And Tilbrook album from 1984.
‘lt‘s been done by a guy called Chris Brady who’s been signed to Polydor for a year-and-a-half, and he’s just done an album with Mick Hucknall and Julian Mendehlson producing. The songs not on the album. though, it’s a B-side on a single. He‘sjust turned 2i. he‘s a fantastic singer and a great songwriter.
lt counts for a lot that someone's covered one of our songs — it's like
sending out little paper boats and one of them comes back to you.‘
Similarly. the guiding ethos behind the
solo tour is feedback and fun. There will be songs by Crowded House, Bjork, Prince and The Monkees. It's not a Squeeze 's Greatest Hits tour, he says, but he's up for anything. ‘lfl know it, l‘ll do it.’ Can I shout for ‘ln Quintessence' from East Side Story then? ‘Alright.’ Enjoy An Acoustic Evening With Glenn Tilbrook at La Belle Angele. Edinburgh on Fri 11 and King Tut's Wait Wait Hut. Glasgow on Sat [2.
mm:- Nile oodgers
If asked to come up with the name of lost one grand opera, the chances of a good number of people citing Verdi’s ‘Alda’ are pretty high. It seems an apt choice, then, as the annual production for the company going under the name of Edinburgh Grand Opera. Amateur in status only, the Grand, as it is known locally, has an admirable reputation for high quality productions. Music this year is again under the direction of conductor Christoer Bell, but taking on the role as producer with the company for the first time is the well known theatre director Beniamln Twist.
Set in Ancient Egypt at the time of
I I I” 1 .. l ' " I 1 ’1‘ .‘
the Pharaohs, ‘Aida’ is well known for many of its big scenes and music, including, of course, the famous triumphal Grand March. ‘lt’s a brilliantly written story with brilliant music,’ says Twist. ‘The story is fundamental to the opera, but too often we get bogged down in what people think opera is. What I’m doing with this opera is telling the story.’ lie sees ‘Aida’ as falling into two halves. ‘We know it as an enormous piece with elephants, giraffes, pyramids and so on, a lot of chorus work and big scenes. But at the same time,’ he says, ‘there is a tight domestic drama going on.’ He also believes that the opera is about power, whether through the large scale powerful pieces, the power struggles between individuals, such as Amonasro’s power over his daughter, Aida, or the power of love which is shown between Aida and Badmes.
Edinburgh Grand Opera relies on amateur or semo-pro soloists and is fortunate to have an excellent cast of principals. ‘I think it all works very well,’ says Twist. ‘People know and love “Aida” and, rightly, it’s a perennially attractive opera to go and see. The music is fantastic and it’s consummater well written. It’s the grandest of grand operas and there is not one note that is wrong.’ (Carol Main)
Alda is at the King’s Theatre, Edinburgh from Tue 23- Fri 26.
The List 1 1—24 March l994 29