FOLK THE INCREDIBLE STRING BAND Cottier Theatre, Glasgow, Fri 25 Jun

‘Our music is quite strange,’ says Mike Heron. ‘But it was strange even then.’ ‘Then’ was a decade through the 605 and 70s when the Incredible String Band moved from being the eclectic eccentrics of the Scottish folk scene to playing at Woodstock and being cited by Lennon, Jagger, Plant et al as major influences on the evolution of popular music. Even The Simpsons’ creator Matt Groening pays homage - his last series Futurama is based on an ISB creation.

The acoustic band’s fondness for ethnic instrumental colour, highly unusual song structures and intelligent, intense lyrical imagery married with myth, magic and gentle humour caught the zeitgeist of the times. The Incredibles also outsold almost everyone but the Beatles, Stones and Zeppelin - yet bred no imitators. By the turn of the new millennium, with endorsements from members of a new generation such as Neil Tennant and Crispian Mills, and a seven page retrospective in Mojo, the international clamour for the band’s reunion was too great to ignore and the core of Mike Heron, Robin Williamson and Clive Palmer took the band back on the road.

‘But Robin didn’t want to tour too much and at that point we really had to think about it,’ says Heron. ‘So it ended up, with Robin’s blessing, that we brought in some new members and concentrated on new arrangements of the songs from the first five albums. We found that audiences wanted the music of that period more than anything else. Fans felt cheated if they came and didn’t hear it. And it’s great doing these numbers after so long. Even when we played at Woodstock we were playing new material, the later stuff we had stopped doing all those songs that everyone now asksfon’

Heron’s determination to please the fans goes hand in hand with the desire to keep true to the spirit of those early recordings. The new band mix string things, wind things and percussion from India to Arabia with Palmer’s good old banjo and guitar, fiddle and keys played by some great younger musicians including the wonderful multi-instrumentalist and singer Fluff, who by coincidence carries on the old String Band tradition of the women having single names.

‘We keep the exotic instruments going and we do different versions of things, but we want to keep everyone happy, including ourselves,’ says Heron. ‘I tell audiences that we are our own tribute band.’ (Norman Chalmers)

OPERA 35AMD _ A now best known as director of of Simon Holt's Who Put Be/la in

MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S Theatre Cryptic. the the Wych E/m?. a highly DREAM

phenomenally successful acclaimed music theatre piece

New Athenaeum Theatre, Glasgow-based company she commissioned by Almeida

Glasgow. Sat 26. Mon 28. Wed founded in the 19908. Not only is Aldeburgh Opera.

30 8‘ F” 2 JU' this the first time that Boyd has For this new Dream. Boyd is

worked at the academy, but it is very aware of not wanting the

her first experience of working visual impact to upstage the with students. ‘I'm really loving it. music. and has looked at although having never worked conveying what is in the music in with students before. I've had to a visual sense. For instance. she adopt another way of working.‘ explains. ‘the fairies being the she says. whole orchestra or the trumpet

It is also the first time Boyd has being Puck. Musically and directed a comedy. not to visually. it will be obvious when

mention her first shot at working you see it.‘ Video is an essential with children. Thankfully. there element. 'l've introduced video for 21st century dreams would appear to be no animals. the entire setting of the wood.‘ ‘l‘m really adoring it,‘ she says. she says. ‘And the video work The RSAMD Opera School has a ‘And there is a great energy to the designed by Pippa Nissen is deservedly high reputation for the way everyone is working they absolutely stunning. When quality of its performances. After are very committed. very Oberon sings abOut an oxslip. Handel in May. the students now conscientious and there are some there is one there. she's filmed it. turn to the appropriately seasonal great voices in there.‘ I'm not trying to set it anywhere

A Midsummer Night’s Dream by But Boyd has extensive else, so am being completely Britten. Making her RSAMD opera experience of singers. including at loyal. but I suppose it's looking at debut is Cathie Boyd. herself a Aldeburgh. Britten‘s birthplace. it with a 2 1 st century approach.‘ graduate of the academy and where she directed the premiere (Carol Main)

44 THE LIST '24 Jun- 8 Jul 2004

to see


1 He’s an R&B colossus New album Confessions sold 1.1m copies in the US in its first week alone and managed the rare feat of getting three songs in the top ten simultaneously. Admittedly. Usher Raymond IV has a huge debt to his producers Puff Daddy helped launch him in 1994 and since then he's worked with the likes of Jermaine Dupri and Jam & Lewis. But he's survived a decade in the spotlight. and you don't do that without a certain star quality.

He likes his new album ‘I managed With this album to intertwine hip hop with an urban edge as well as nee-sow and SOLll singing. singing from the heart. by choosing to talk about very personal relationship-driven issues.’ said the bashful star in a US interview. 'And yOu know. give it a beat so it keeps you b0uncrng, so it is still classic B&B.'

3 He’s a dirty dog According to ex-girlfriend Rozonda ‘Chilli' Thomas of TLC. the couple split after Usher committed “the ultimate no-no'. Rumours suggest that he slept with a groupie, although he may have just left the toilet seat up One too many times or tried to watch the baseball while The CO was on. Such misdemeanours are unlikely to disc0urage Usher's female fans. who can be found across the net waxing lyrical about his baby face and washerboard stomach.

4 He’s got some fine tunes Among the slush puppy ballads. UK number ones ‘Yeah' and ‘You Make Me Wanna' stand out as classic pop. The Tennessee-born soulster can sing a bit too: on his last UK tour the NME. a publication not known for its appreciation of commercial R&B, described his cover of Marvin Gaye's classic ‘What's Going On' as ‘most eerie'. 5 He’s mad The 26-year-old serts his huge jeans closet by fade colOur, thinks slippers are uncool. was inspired to fast after watching The Passion of the Christ and carries liquid soap everywhere he goes. “Think about how many times you grab y0ur nuts. as a man,‘ he explained earlier this year. 'I know I scratch my ass. pick my nose who else is doing that?‘ (James Smartl

SECC. Glasgow, Fri 2 Jul.