ROCK POP ASH
King Tut’s, Glasgow, 6 Mar
Back and inducing air drumming in everyone
Tim Wheeler has slept in, so I’m told to call back in five minutes. Not much of a grand comeback for the mighty Ash, is it? When the frontman eventually does come to the phone, a bit shaky after a heavy night, he’s mumbly and very apologetic but get him onto the subject of the band’s new record and you can’t shut him up. Certainly the signs are good from the few tracks previewed at festivals last summer; darker and infinitely heavier but with that beautifully melodic feel that makes Ash so damn infectious, and it’s all thanks to producer Nick Rasculinez, who has teased a whole new dimension out of
their pop punk beginnings.
‘We’ve always had heavier influences but they came to the fore on this record,’ explains Wheeler. ‘I think it came from touring the States and listening to a lot of hard rock. It’s less poppy so we’re taking a chance,’ he laughs. ‘lt’s our best sounding record; we’ve really moved on and Dave Grohl even came down to the studio in LA and really flipped out over some tracks. He was playing air drums and everything.’
Our first taster of the fourth LP (out in May) comes in the form of download only single ‘Clones’ which is released on Ash Wednesday (obviously) and which Wheeler describes as ‘the heaviest song we’ve ever done’. Hardcore fans who have snapped up tickets for this King Tut’s date can look forward to a sneak preview of the new material, as well as experiencing them in a venue they haven’t played since the early 90$.
‘We’re really excited about this tour. We’re going to play the whole of the new album and some old stuff, not necessarily the hits, but just have a bit of fun.’ Ironic hair metal outfits aside, the British rock scene needs a truly great record this year, and seemingly Ash have just come up with it. All eyes are on them. (Camilla Pia)
Live at the Star, Glasgow, Thu 4 Mar; Edinburgh Folk Club, Wed 17 Mar.
Three goes into four
Fine Friday is four. Or soon will be. The trio was born in Edinburgh musos' howff Sandy Bells way back in 2000. and has been on the move ever since. geographically and musically — last year playing to a massive audience at the Australian National Festival and sharing the stage with the Waifs. Comprising Orcadian guitarist and singer Kris Drever as a rich rhythmic and harmonic foil
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for Dundalk flute player Nuala Kennedy and Edinburgh fiddler Anna-Wendy Stevenson. the young band‘s eclectic explorations may rise from the Scots and Irish musical tradition. but that WOUId be like saying that the Space Shuttle comes from Florida.
Their highly evolved yet playful sound actually derives from a wealth of skill and experience. Stevenson's was in the blood. From the celebrated Stevenson family (including composer. pianist grandfather Ronald and aunt Savourna). she moved from the London College of MUSIC to a scholarship in Texas. played in Tony Bennett's backing group and mixed western swing with orchestral playing. Drever's youth involved heavy metal. a dad (Ivan) who sang and played guitar in Scots folkrockers Wolfstone. a spell playing bass. and tours of SOuth America in — shhh — Irish Riverdance clone called Celtic Fusion.
While still in her early teens Kennedy played and toured the real thing in the performances by the local Co Louth youth ceilidh band — before moving to \ Edinburgh and the ceramics studios of the Art School — which is just round the corner from Sandy Bells. Before long she had sent home for her forgotten flute and the clay started to take a back seat. Like the others. Kennedy's music finds many outlets. She also plays in the madcap post-folk quintet Harem Scarem and has plans on hold for a band incorporating live magic. Fine Friday is their home. however. and a second album is on the way. ‘Our music is changing.‘ says Kennedy. 'The focus is different. We're more spontaneous. and I think more meaningful. We have now got a more polished sound. but we're also working on much more experimental stuff.‘
Various venues, Edinburgh, 4-18 Mar
Where in the world except Edinburgh can you see five different operas in just over two weeks. all performed by very high quality amateur companies? Probably nowhere. Britain has always had a strong reputation for people participating in the arts for the love of it. but Edinburgh clearly has some very exceptional talent. Between the King‘s and the Festival Theatres. Edinburgh Grand Opera. Southern Light Opera. the Gilbert and Sullivan Society and the Bohemians Lyric Opera Company will put on no fewer than 21 fully staged and costumed performances. Grouped together by Festival City Theatres under the generic heading of Local Heroes. the companies are welcome regular visitors to their two stages. with both venues being proud and very pleased to present and support their work.
The Gilbert and Sullivan Society gear up for Orpheus
This season, the operas on offer range from the ever-popular classic Carmen. to the lighter end of the scale with Jesus Christ Superstar and the Broadway hit The Scarlet Pimpernel receiving its Edinburgh premiere. Somewhere in the middle is the G88 Society with two shows — lolanthe and Offenbach's Orpheus in the Underworld — on alternating nights. According to Fiona Campbell, network officer for Voluntary Arts Scotland. more than 2 million people take part in the arts and crafts in Scotland on a regular basis. with at least 1000 people voluntarily involved in organising them. ‘People do it for all sorts of different reasons.‘ she says. ‘Sometimes it may be to get experience. or people may have chosen different careers. but want to continue using their artistic or practical talents and skills.‘ Amateur performances usually benefit from the fresh energy of passion and enthusiasm and. of course. as Campbell says. ‘There’s nothing to beat the applause at the end of a performance after months and months of hard work.‘ (Carol Main)
I For full details of all performances see Classical Listings on page ??