Colin Cannon – a wee session under the Canvas – Eden Court 27/07/2018

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Summer and that

My, it’s been a busy week, and it’s not going to stop any time soon.  Eden Court has had a huge number of things on over the last couple weeks, as many places have, which has been more than pleasing to the ears, soul and heart.

I have ears and a heart, the soul, less so, as that’s a metaphysical concept, but the music has been giving me the feels, so that’s good.  Also, the heart has benefited as it’s a muscular organ, so walking around has been good. No summer of love here – just a summer of goodness and rationalism.

I headed out with one of my old band members to see what was what. A leisurely stroll across the bridge and down the sun beaten banks of the River Ness brought us to the canvas on the grounds of Eden Court, complete with an outdoor pop-up  Black Isle Bar serving their own form of alcoholic art, which they’ve been doing for the last few weeks.

There’s a lovely grassy knoll too, thankfully today there were no loon (or lone) snipers taking pot-shots (that I could see anyway), and just a nice flow of people having a good time.

We met up with all the good people and blethered for a bit before settling down.  The first bit of ambience we came across (figuratively, sorry mum) was from a Ukulele orchestra, who did some happy covers of some songs, including the pesky 500 Miles by the Proclaimers – this isn’t the most recent time I’ve heard this either. I don’t mean to be a kill joy at all, but it’s like being in school, where everyone constantly played Oasis’ Wonderwall – Everyone – Stop it! It’s catchy, but so’s the tetris theme tune, you don’t want to hear it all the time. It’d be fine if I knew it wasn’t going to be played at the next three out of seven places I went with music on, but aaaaarrrgggh.

Ukulele’s and that

In spite of my prejudice for that song, The Ukulele band were alright, chirpy, and had a ukulele bass, which I didn’t know was a thing. There was clapping and little kids dancing, the like of you’ve not seen since the Marymas Fair.

Anyway, Colin Cannon appeared.

A man with a guitar.

Colin’s was shortlisted for  a slot at Bella, so this was a nice showcase for him. The first thing that struck as he opened his  set was the voice. That should go without saying as a redundant sentence, but I mean it wasn’t what I’d expected. I was grateful it wasn’t 500 miles by the Proclaimers, however his voice did have more than a hint of another revered Scottish act. Holy shit cakes he sounds like Paolo Nutini. I’m confident I’m not the first to say that.

I don’t just mean the twang of the accent, the range and that weird wobble thing when Paolo goes ooooohh, or o-o-o-oh was there too.

Colin’s next song was Hope’s for Glory, which was fired out with determination – to the point that the A string on the guitar made a break for it at the tail end of the song.

Colin seemed unfazed by this, and switched to ukulele, whilst his glamorous assistant, Chris restrung his guitar.

Rocking the ukulele

Colin played “The belly of a beast you know” on his tiny guitar thing (we know, don’t write in.) It had a really pleasant instrumental picking element to it, which sounded fantastic on the old uke.  The preceding Ukulele orchestra had been mostly doing chord strumming work, so it was nice to hear some more of the versatility of the instrument. They could maybe work together? No?

With the return of the freshly restrung guitar came Soul Asylum, a slow, soft song, which Colin pointed out had never lost a string to. There were another few songs, which included the pragmatic “Good times for all”, which seemed to be a song about not being a dick, and looking forward.  

Soulful singing

 “One White Wall” was another notable one, which had a bit of crowd interaction; getting back to the ukulele theme, the crowd chanting “two ukuleles” at the appropriate time.

“Stay the Same” was a full bodied number that wouldn’t have sounded out of place as the opening track for a bond film.

There was a mix of ages and people in the audience, so Colin had to find some songs that were suitable for young ears, or at least safe to play around. That suggests there’s a greater catalogue of music to be heard.  His voice is good, his songs are good.

“Woke up on the kitchen floor”

The closing song was “This is How We See”, one of his older ones. There was a warm feeling to this one, like being drunk -which fitted, as it was about being drunk. Drunk on a summer’s day I reckon, like what we did in the times of no responsibilities or consequences.  When this here place were all fields.  If we can’t be drunk mid-day these days, we can at least listen to Colin, and live vicariously through his music. Or if you can drink mid-day, you can do both.

You can catch Colin on August 3rd at Brokies Bar from 17:30 for a full on set if you’d like to see what you missed.

There was some spoken word on after that, but I’ll let someone else write about it…



Share the love – The All Time Greatest Music Videos part 3

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Ramones – “I wanna Be Sedated.”

The Ramones are many things to many people. People say they changed the course of music history, for example. Whether true or not, that’s at least a sign to indicate that they have old fans and new, and longevity in being liked.
Not really gonna go into that here. But for me they were short, sharp songs that make me smile or make me bop my head or some other such thing when listening to them. As Woolly Dermal said in Episode 2, this ‘Share the Love’ area is not just about the song and the band, but giving more attention to the music clip and how it goes with the song, or does something interesting which we are respecting in its own right.
For the Ramones, and for this ‘Share the Love’ thing at here, I am going for ‘I Wanna be Sedated.’

There’s just so much good going on in the clip. To be fair, there’s so much going on in it that you’re shooting fish in a barrel looking at something and liking it. Mostly for me it is them, sedate and recovering amid the chaos all around. It is also in keeping with a consistent downplaying of the band members as characteristics, things like heads down, shoulders hunched, eyes covered by hair, disengaged but still kicking out short sharp nuggets of gold to the surrounding.
I recognise as I write this that by sharing these clips I’m also trying to get you to listen to them and see if you agree, or at least like the song or the clip. The power to influence people! Not many, sure, but this is not the purpose anyway – more as titled; ‘Sharing the Love’.
This song is under 2 ½ minutes, so hopefully you got time to see it. Even if just the first 30-40 seconds will give you the gist of it all. I hope some of you like it, too.

Robin Abbot – 21/07/2018 – Ironworks Inverness pt 3

Reading Time: 4 minutes


Hi, hello, hi. It’s me – Chips and Gravy, ready to blow your tits off with some more dazzling witticisms and scathing self-deprecation. Strap in kids, it’s going to be a mediocre ride.

Picture it: Saturday night in Inverness. The weather is miserable, the local lads don their finest tracksuits, and the pavement is a measly two inches deep with seagull shite. Not a bad night for this place I must say. Time for a journey into the city’s answer to Wembley Stadium: the Ironworks.

Pesky seagulls everywhere


I quickly realised the venue’s Groundhog Day-like properties (it hasn’t been painted since my last visit… in 2007) but hey, it’s not raining in here. Time for a pint. JOKE! After my last venture into the wild; I’ve signed off the booze for a while. There are only so many times I can enjoy getting lifted, and I doubt the coppers enjoy lifting me either. I’m a large unit, so I’m told.

Ian’s atmospheric set complimented by a spooky blue stage

ANYWAY, lets get to the point, shall we? A pint of coke (diet, although I’m fairly certain another flavour [edited – now now!] was present among other circles in attendance) and it’s time to enjoy me some fine tunes. Sadly, I arrived late and missed the majority of the first support act, Iain Mclaughlin’s set. What I did see was mind-bendy and brilliant. Somehow one man managed to sound like an entire symphony; loop pedal after loop pedal filled the room with eerie guitar, slow beats and utterly haunting vocals. I’m still gutted to have missed the rest of the set, this dude was shit hot (sorry, I’ve used my adjective allowance for the day, humour me).

A short break interspersed with cigarettes and seagull sightings was followed by Dr Wook’s short but perfectly formed set. An amalgamation of folk, country and acoustic rock shouldn’t have the power to fill a room but alas, fill the room it did. And well, I’d say. Admittedly I didn’t pay as much attention to the music as I did my professional as fuck photography equipment (iPhone 7, bitchessss). I do know that I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I remember telling my partner I would buy his CD if I didn’t have more debt than the Eurozone.

More cigarettes, more seagulls and more distasteful cawing from the aforementioned flying fuckers almost led me astray but thankfully Robin Abbot, the man we’d all been waiting for, was about to begin. I’ve seen Robin play the Market Bar more times than I’d like to remember, however this was different. Everyone (including me, wow-fucking-wee) was there to see a local legend realise his dream and finally release his own music into the grabby claws of the general public. Speaking of which, each person was given a copy of his EP “If Not Now?” upon entry to the venue. This gig was so good that I’ve actually listened to it rather than chuck it into the ever-growing pile of discarded Kerrang! freebies and software installation discs from days gone by. This EP deserves more than life as an ash and alcohol-stained, fag-burnt coaster.

I realise I should talk about the set, the setlist and the general atmosphere, however Cornwallace and Woolly Dermal have thankfully beaten me to it. I can say that despite the infestation of sky-vermin, (very) questionable dancing and lack of alcohol, the evening was fantastic. Robin’s songs were full of emotion and sincerity, made even more poignant by the many friends called up from the audience to play with him. I hope one day to be sociable to a point where my friends would even consider being seen out with me, never mind turn up and play at my gigs. Who am I kidding? I have no friends (except beer, and he’s dead now).

I know I’ll see Robin play again (and probably again and again and again) but this was a very special night. And I didn’t even get shat on – not by anyone who matters, anyway. 11/10 would see again.

Part 1

Robin Abbot – Ironworks – 21/07/18 part-1

Part 2

Robin Abbot – Ironworks – 21/07/2018 part 2

Robin Abbot – Ironworks – 21/07/2018 part 2

Reading Time: 10 minutes

 “If Not Now?” EP Launch event – Robin Abbot with Charlie’s Ranch

The Reader and the Storyteller

Robin Abbot. What can you say about him? As part of the cluster of writers that were present at this venue, Cornwallace has already covered a review of his gig, which you can get to by clicking the link at the foot of the page. This review was written – in part at least – before reading it, so it’s possible that there may be a bit of cross over in the content. 

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Myself and Cornwallace had reviewed the shambolic Day of the Dead festival event together previously, way back in November last year. So the idea of a few individually subjective; but hopefully interesting enough to read as standalone reviews is not a new one on our part.

The established Inverness Gigs site were hosting their own event at the Highland Games, so we figured they had that covered, letting us get on with this one.

For me, knowing I’d have a review of this gig coming, the latter half of the day was writing up the previous night’s events – Hamish MacDonald, and Victoria McNulty, in time to publish prior to heading out for a run round the Ness Islands, and some pre-gig grub. 

I like to shout out good places to eat, and La Tortilla is no exception. Given that – for me – going for a run isn’t as fluid an event as I’d like it to be. (see the 90’s Reebok advert “Belly’s gonna get ya” (!) I went for something healthy after that.

Historically I’d like a nice wine or sangria there, but today was a coca-cola, and veggie Salamanca Paella day. (Alright, fizz isn’t good for you, but it was nice and cold). Anyway, this isn’t an inane Facebook post with pictures of dinner, but I thought it worth mentioning that the chow was good.

Thankfully for my stupid body, there was a light drizzle by the point it was time to head down the hill to the Ironworks

The legacy

As with many of the good folk of the town city of Inverness, especially those that frequent the Market Bar, I’m well used to seeing Robin perform. You can catch him most nights in there, Thursdays on with Punching Elvis, Mondays as himself, and dotted about on other days either with Dorac-a-Belle or the Mystic Shoes, depending on the week. He plays other places too, I’ve vague memories of either Mystic Shoes or Stetsonhead playing at a work Christmas party several years back too. Needless to say he’s a busy, versatile and adaptable fella. He’s got a well renowned legacy with several of Inverness’s key bands and musicians from over the last 20 plus years.

Actually, on that, he’s not only a versatile one, he is an inspiring one too. His songs are heartfelt, emotive and his lyrics are relatable. Many a night in far darker times was I a bit lost, and popped along to the HQ to find his mix of soulful singing and generally warm character having lifted my spirits. Gradually I came out of the dark place, and I don’t think it’s insincere to say that the regular, and out-and-out good music he produced helped.

I’ve actually wanted to review Robin for a long time, and have had a few false starts – I think once you become familiar with a selection of songs from a performer you see regularly it makes it harder to write about it.  That’s how I was finding it anyway – so I was getting to the point I thought it wouldn’t be viable to write one up.

I was delighted to see that he was launching his own EP, and jumped at the chance to see him. As an added bonus about a third of were also keen to witness the gig. If Not Now?” seemed apt in a number of ways.

IF NOT NOW EP, artwork by Moa Holmgren


Gig time!

The first bonus on arriving at the Ironworks was the free five track EP,  a cracking gesture, especially given that the gig itself was only a tenner. It was a well packaged one too, with a significant and nice dedication on the sleeve, especially fitting given the emotive and impassioned nature of the works within.

It was a bit after eight when we got there, to find the first of two support acts, and proprietor of IMOUT Records Ian McLaughlin having opened his set.

I grabbed a glass of coke for myself and meandered up to the standing area.

Iain Mclaughlin accompanied by guitar and the sound of his own voice on a loop track.

Ian’s was an atmospheric composition of layered loops of his own guitar, that he build up throughout the piece. Showing off his vocal range and skill he performed well – doing both his own harmonising and singing, again with the use of a loop pedal. I’ve seen him before and was pleasantly surprised then, as I was now. His music was dramatically different to last time, and on this particular day I’d describe him as Inverness’ answer to a cuddly Trent Reznor. That’s meant as a compliment by the way. With the almost choral feel of the soundscape, it gave depth to the Ironworks venue. 

Dr Wook

Once Ian closed, there was a brief interval before Dr. Wook took to the stage.

He had an almost one man band set up around his feet, the drum of which was noteably colourfuly decorated. This set initially manifested as a forlorn folky affair with a song “Need more time to find more time”, or at least that was one of the lines.  Potentially. We need to spend more time, to pay more attention to the lines.

At this point I was still taking in the guitar, I liked the fact it was missing a scratchplate, although you can’t see that in the picture below, it looked like a well broken-in instrument. Hence the lack of track name attentiveness. That’s my excuse anyway!

Songs such as “Reilly”, and “Don’t think” followed thereafter.

Lyrics such as “You said things are built to last, well you can blow that out your ass” sung with a good folk voice akin to the auditory equivalent of caramel.

The set got faster and harder as it went on -with the last song that, I particularly liked. “Not for me” – which we’ll publish a video of on Facebook page in the next few days.

Lyrics “Spare me your redemption, spare me your lies. I can’t stand it when you’re running around; with another disguise” were delivered with zeal.

Dr. Wook with a wee tune.

The set closed to a fair whack of appreciation from the growing audience. Time for another cola, and a cancer stick before Mr. Robin Abbot was to appear. (don’t smoke kids, it’s not good for you). The remaining market bar faithful floated and swished into the venue for the headline act.

The main man

Robin appeared on stage by himself with his guitar, with great humility; thanked us all for appearing and opened with one of his classic tracks. “I like to Lie” I knew so well from other shows, known to me so well could pretty much recite it word for word.

“I was lost, and you were too,

and you can say we were just to young, but that’s just not true.

Struck dumb,but you stayed smart, but we fell into each others arms, the night before we fell apart.

We got down, we got high.

I’d like to say that we were in love, but then again I like to lie.”

It’s always been his own songs that stood out for me, and this was a nice familiar and soft start to the show.

Robin takes to the stage for the opening song.

The reception from the already lascivious fans spilled in with perfect time, before Robin swapped the guitar for the bass, and his band made the way onto the stage to join him.

As a solo performer I’m used to Robin’s work being slow and impassioned,  in a hauntingly beautiful way – but the burst of energy from this number was ska-punky and reminded me of a more youthful era. It was a welcome addition to the night, and incited wolf whistles galore from the adorning audience.

The next song, “The one the world forgot” was of a similar vibe to the previous song – with the punk element turned up a notch. It was announced as the song that had “a kind of vibe”, but the specifics weren’t mentioned.  In all honestly It felt a bit detached from Robin’s previous work, and I found the lyrics a bit dark. Talk of opening up veins, suicidal thoughts and silent screams didn’t fit with the music, didn’t seem to suit my experience/interpretation of Robin, and it was the only song that didn’t seem to fit well into the sincerity of the set.  It was maybe one for the younger minded in the audience, but not my cup of tea.

Back to form, the track that followed had the crowd bopping away, including Derek on the guitar feeling the effervescence  of the track whilst simultaneously pushing it out – folks, we might have found the elusive solution to the perpetual energy problem. The positivity eking out of this one came from both the arrangement, and the lyrics;

 “We could both tell different stories; that is in the past, I don’t want to be your first I only want to be your last”

Robin followed up with a track from his newly launched EP, and flagged that, on the EP itself, the cello track is played by Imke Henderson, but in the rush to production the crediting was missed. A wee apology and nod to Imke.

The song itself “Die for you” reminded me a bit of Lou Reed’s “Satellite of Love” in terms of the initial melody. It was obviously a big and important part of Robin’s story and personal journey – which was plain to see. His delivery and conviction to the song was almost overwhelming. Robin is a credit and inspiration to those he encounters, and lyrics like this show how much this whole process meant to him. Where Robin is now, on stage, with a loyal and ever expanding following, give a message to those who have gone through difficult times, and kept pushing through. Don’t give up.

The Mystic Shoes

Following this, Robin brought on Dickie Bills on the cajon, and Derek Urquhart on the sexy red telecaster to make up the line up of the Mystic Shoes, with a glowing introduction to each member. They played a cover of Gillian Welsh’s “Back in Time”. Where you can see some of Robin’s musical influence may come from.

Bills departed the stage and James Harvey, whom the man of the moment described as the well revered “grandfather of the local music scene” to perform one of the many highlights of the night a rock number which I regrettably missed the name of. Clever lyrics which I recall were “I’m a war-torn soldier, not your white knight”  – The song may have been called the “The wrong Mr. Right.” – one wee niggle with Mr. Abbot is that he doesn’t introduce a lot of his songs by name. It seemed like a newer one though, I’d not heard it before that I recalled. I’d’ve stuck it on the EP, but there are perhaps plans for it further down the line.

She Once Cared

Liza Mullholand of Dorac-a-Belle entered the fray for another track from the EP, “She Once Cared“. Again, Robin’s lyrics are stirring, sometimes very melancholic, but put across in a way that you feel the music as well as hear it. It’s safe to say he’s got an impressive reserve of songs, and this EP is only the tip of the iceberg for those that haven’t heard him. There was a Pink Floyd feel to the almost score like support of the other band members.

Back to bass for Robin with “The Girl That Was Her” followed by a song dedicated to another sadly departed local legend Billy Morrison – a gent that is fondly remembered by nigh on all that encountered him. Citing him as his inspiration and the reason he was standing on the stage today, the song featuring the lines “face of sixty summers, looking back at me”. It’s hard to see how Billy couldn’t have been an inspiration to local musicians all around the town.

For nostalgia purposes, here’s a wee vid of Robin and Billy playing together back in the day.

The set finished up with the brilliant “Rock N’ Roll” which set the crowd into the final stage of elation, and a rush to the front for some. With Robin himself shoulder bopping, and doing what he loves, you can see the music, writing and creativity is monumentally important for him and, by proxy those around him. Robin is a musician  with a warmth, maturity and fervor that drives him forward, and can’t help but infect those lucky enough to be around him.


A rocking close to the gig!
Robin on the bass guitar, one of many instruments within his remit.

I’d recommend taking some time out to see Robin if you can, it’s worth your time. For the songs he performed tonight, and his other pieces that either didn’t fit, or there wasn’t space to cram into the night. His heart and soul are in this release, and you can practically feel it.  If we get a link to his EP for sale, we’ll happily post it up here.

After the close, we trundled off to HQ for a final couple beverages.  Some of the fans who ventured in had switched to coke, perhaps to allow preparation for an extended party and celebration ahead. We were off the cola, and onto a nightcap each, then off to bed!



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For Cornwallace’s review and take, have a peek here:

Robin Abbot – Ironworks – 21/07/18 part-1

Robin Abbot – Ironworks – 21/07/18 part-1

Reading Time: 5 minutes

“Perseverance, with a touch of panache, personified: What happens when you don’t give up”

Robin Abbott and [Lots of Friends] – Ironworks, Saturday 21st July, by Cornwallace

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Saturday night at the Ironworks, the headliner being Robin Abbott.  Known to so many throughout Inverness he hardly needs my introduction, but sure that will cover some of this stuff in another review, being that Chips & Gravy and Woolly Dermal were both there also.  Hopefully one of them will provide things like ‘background,’ or ‘detail,’ or even ‘facts.’  Things like band members’ names, or song names, etc. 

I didn’t see the lead up acts either.  Not a good start to a review, putting it like that.  However, I wanted to write this anyway, as there is something I wanted to say about this. 

The short version is that it was a good night out.  The longer version is below.

The night variously had 1, 2, 3 or 4 people on stage at any given time. Please note both the various line-ups and instruments being played in the photos dispersed throughout below.

Main bit:

I had seen Robin Abbot perform a number of times in the Market Bar, in any number of variations and incantations of acts.  What I was looking forward to out of this night was to see him doing his own stuff.  What much of the crowd was there to see was someone they knew was good at what they did, and they wanted to see him, after years of not getting to this stage, succeed.

Fan at the front rocking it ‘til the end.  Anonymous here in the picture, but got the feeling they weren’t very anonymous to very many people in the crowd…

If I’m right, and I’m pretty sure that this is one time I can say I am, Robin has been knocking around the Inverness music scene for the better part of 25-odd years, but this is the first time he has brought an album out.  This itself is indicated by the album title ‘If not now?’

Actually, as a quick aside on that, the first 100-odd people got a free CD of the album as a part of the ticket price.  I was pretty chuffed about that, thought it was a classy and generous thing to do.  Actually, come to think of it, generous is an accurate word to describe the feeling for the night.  It was people willing him to succeed, and him doing so.  I am just over 24 hours away from the experience now, and think that this resounds as correct.  The place, and the night, had heart.

You know what it feels like to see someone do something that they believe in.  This was that. 

This night very obviously meant a lot to Robin, and he got a lot of support for it.  He got a raft of musical support on stage, and a ton of it from the parochial crowd.  The Ironworks can be a great venue, but it also risks being a big barn of a place where you can rattle around in.  The place was somewhere over half full in terms of capacity, but the feeling of the room was more than that.  I realised that this was the first time I had seen him not on that tiniest of tiny stage at the Market.  He had a lot of stage to fill at the Ironworks, and it felt natural that he was up there filling it.  Intimate, but at scale.


These 2 photos fit within well-worked moment of build-up in the set, where it went from solo, to 3 on stage, to different 3 on stage, to 4 coming together to build up the set and the night.


Under such conditions of support, one can always look back reflectively and throw out a sweeping statement such as ‘the night was always going to work under such conditions…’ Yet there would have been stress, and a lot of meaning, and risk and fear regarding finally putting his own stuff out.  Finally trying out his own voice, so to speak, at that level, in his own way, with his own material. 

And please realise that this next thought – this is not being emotional, not me being caught up in the moment, or angling to push someone forward.  Beyond all of the story behind it – the journey, the time, the wondering if it was ever going to happen.  Beyond all that, cutting to the actual music, he was good on his own merit.  The songs stood up.  The night and the entertainment factors stood up as well. 

There was one song where I was thinking of the upmost need to send this to my brother, as the sentiment would resonate with him.  There were others that were optimistic, or downhearted, talking of the inevitable scar tissue coming from negotiating the potential of love with another.

Full band sound, full support on display.

The songs had heart.  They were good, they are ones I want to listen to more, for the music, but I also want to listen more closely to the lyrics as well.  I came in with curiosity, and went out with a desire to listen again, listen more, listen more closely. 

I said above that despite the lack of details provided in this review, I wanted to say something.  I think that this is it. 
I went in out of curiosity.  Because of the night and what it was and what it meant, I could have gone away with the entertainment of a story about a dream, and being there the moment a stage of that dream was fulfilled.  And I did, for sure (and with a CD!), and this was seriously an amazing feel throughout the gig.  But over and above that, I left wanting to hear the music again, to listen to it more, and share it with loved ones with whom I have talked about topics of resonance and care and meaning.

It was a good show, with good music, by a good musician – and a lot of support by those that already knew that.  You will have the chance to see him, come what may.  But for mine, I hope that his own stuff, in his own way like this, is something that we get to see more of.

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Hamish MacDonald, Victoria McNulty and Abi Normal, the Market bar 21/07/18

Reading Time: 7 minutes

It’s a rare Friday that I’m out in Inverness these days, but the call of Hamish MacDonald doing some music and slam poetry was more than enough to entice me from the mundane to the exceptional. 

I’m a big advocate of spoken word, and was keen to see Hamish , and the headline performer Victoria McNulty.

At some point in the future will be branching out into hosting a regular, and accessible to all spoken word event too, but that’s further down the pipeline – there are other things to be sorted first, but watch this space!

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I did get a brief reminder of why Fridays for me are one to avoid. I arrived there just before eight – a brief encounter with a prosaic manifestation of a character that could easily have fitted in as the the subject matter of the play that I was about to witness. Thankfully the Belladonna opted to drift away before the event itself bloomed, which cleared the way for an enjoyable night. 

(I keep wanting to write Hamish Henderson for some reason, but he was a very different, worth checking out poet) Hamish MacDonald is who our attention is on though.

The stage is set

The Market Bar filled up fairly quickly, with many people drawn in specifically for the event. Friday is normally a busy one for HQ anyway, but there was definitely a fan base for the impending performances in question. 

After a good bit of craic-having with the enthused audience, Hamish opened at just after nine to a now tightly packed venue.  The initial offerings were songs accompanied by Hamish’s guitar, including a fairly damning – and damningly fair – composition about the cheesy wotsit dipped in mayonnaise that is Donald Trump.  A description of the beast as a “scrotum moron” within the song’s lyrics give a good taste* (*boke) of the song.

Hamish ge’in it laldy

There were several other songs played, including a number which also involved a prize at the end for the audience member who was able to identify the name of the person that wrote the piece. The lucky recipient of the Bounty sweetie managed to identify that it was a Rabbie Burns number, and was rewarded with the taste of paradise ™

The last guitar piece that Hamish played before resting his guitar was his own, cracking number, which as the title Existential Blues, would suggest is about death.  I’d like to affirm, that although through the duration of the songs I stated that Hamish was accompanied by his guitar, it was in no way sentient. All credit to him as a musician.

The real strength and biggest draw for me with Hamish is the slam poetry, and once the guitar was to the side, the full force of Hamish as a performer was in view. His piece on what I’d interpret as a damning view of territorial hostility, prejudice and eventually general imperialism; ‘Ma Bit‘ was delivered with ferocity and passion. 

The next treat was a treatise on Edinburgh as a city, it’s tourism, history and social equality. We’ve added a badly captured vertical phone video of it below. We’re not the BBC, and aren’t quite ready to get our social enterprise funding to get a decent camera/mic set up – so this’ll have to do. Sozzers.

Hamish MacDonald’s slam poetry led perfectly into the headline act, giving the same feeling of satisfaction that you get from something joyous and tactile. Not sex, perhaps something crunchy, like walking on virgin snow,  eating freshly baked still hot bread, listening to the crackling of wood on a stove, or some other apt simile. It was good an’ that. 

On the Stage and in the Crowd.

Emerging from the crowd, Victoria MacNulty grabbed the attention of the sardine packed Market Bar, by ringing a substantial old style school bell, the sort you imagined yer da would have heard, or yer da’s da if you’re born after the turn of the century.  

With the crowd now suitably engaged, subdued and eager to see what was coming, Abi Normal, sitting on the wee market bar stage with her guitar opened with a song about leaving England.  With prominent lyrics on the subject of departing the less than utopic environment for a better life for her kids;  “That’s why I’m leaving; I 

Abi delivering her enchanting lyrics

don’t want him to know there’s anything such as grieving”.

As the song closed Victoria emerged with an impressive presence, especially given that the venue was ram packed full.  Victoria delivered verbose and resolute soliloquy, bringing the environment of Glasgow to the humble Market bar. (As a side note, at the end when talking with Victoria, it was noted that the downstairs Market Bar thoroughfare bore a not dissimilar vibe as that of some pubs in Glasgow.)

The emotive monologue presented the market rabble with experiences of the division in Glasgow, sectarianism and the wrath and of the British dominance. With a reflective nod to the Scottish independence referendum and an affirmation and enlightening realisation that the treatment of Ireland, and the manner in which Scotland was seen to be treated after the referendum were not mutually exclusive. Interwoven into this were references to the poet Seamus Heaney and his works referencing the uprisings, such as Requiem for the Croppies.

This fed into talk of domestic abuse, the initial regretted tolerance of it, and it’s escalation. Bruises, control and domination – coping with it and all that surrounded it. The circling criticism and hardship that followed. The play was an intertwining transition between Victoria’s spoken word and Abi’s well delivered vocals and guitar. For the most bit lightly sung, but with meaty subject matter. 

Victoria, catching the attention of her audience


There was an added feel of interaction by the fact Victoria was able to walk around the venue, interacting and engaging with the audience in a manner which made the experience feel extremely personal. There were smashed bottles, talk of split families, and perfectly crafted terms such as being subjected to verbal ivory towers. Hidden bruises, but don’t call it abuse, and apologise for those that commit them. That struck a personal chord for me. Having to build up confidence again in the Market Bar itself, and working my way back into social interaction. Lines like “The poor bastard that has to stand and take it.” and “My body hasn’t felt like it belonged for a long time” were especially striking. 

I’m going to be careful not to paraphrase the entire work, but it’s worth looking out for.  The play was a journey through the depths of sadness, through optimism and all in between. They finished on a cover of Christie Moore’s Bee’s wing, which was a personal favourite of mine, and I can’t imagine a more fantastic way to close.

The aftermath

We left before Annakii made their way onto the stage; it was busy,  and there were people to meet in Mad Hatters. We headed across the road to see what was what. Downstairs had a folk arrangement, Shiltrum on stage, upstairs had The man from Delmonte playing, a rock number. Shiltrum were an upbeat trad band – we only caught a bit of TMFD, they seemed to be doing covers from what we did see of them, but they were energetic and had the crowd pumping. 

We got charged £2.60 for a small glass of draught coke though – is that normal? Apparently it is. 

We went downstairs after coke-gate. Oddly, as we were heading down the stairwell and away from MadHatters, TMFD were doing a cover of ‘I’m gonna be (500 miles)’. Arriving through the downstairs swing doors into the Hoots area, Shiltrum were also playing the same song. We decided having walked fifteen metres, we’d also walk fifteen more, and headed out to the outdoor area.

After a pleasant catch-up with a few friends, and an assessment that spending such an amount on carbonated kola nut and sugar was not sustainable – we ventured into Johnny Foxes. Although, you could probably market it as a cocktail base if you referred to it as that.

Carbonated Kola nut and refined sugar, with a dash of vanilla, served at Mad Hatters, for the reasonable price of £2.60. Tell your friends.

Johnny Foxes also featured ‘500 miles‘ being played, this time the performer we believe was Dark Horse. Was everywhere playing the Proclaimers? Sunshine on Leith was on in Eden Court last week. The Market once hosted the Proclaimers, but that’s more than acceptable, and pretty cool.

It gets people jumping, but they’ve got more of a repertoire than that. Lets get Married, Cap in Hand, plenty more. We should do a Foxes review one day.  I just find it difficult to write reviews of bands doing like for like covers. I remember once being in The Den, and there was a brilliant jazz pianist playing, but that was a long time ago. The evening’s only other notable experience of Johnny Foxes was a pale faced chthonic looking person staring at me like Annabelle from The Conjuring. I think her and the earlier bell’s behaviour are related. That was the last of the belles, or the bell-ends. Not much was doing in Foxes, so home it was to binge on Bob’s Burgers and cringe about how dated the TV series Extras has become. Seriously, have you re-watched it? It’s chauvinistic, sexist, homophobic tripe. In a non self-aware way, rather than satire. Save yourself the hassle. 

Go out and watch Victoria McNulty instead. She’s playing at Belladrum on Thursday night at the Verb Garden. Do eeet!

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Also, some links:


Share the love – The All Time Greatest Music Videos – Episode two

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Episode 2

Woolly Dermal


So we’re on episode two of Sharing the love. Following on from Cornwallace’s reference to Bob Dylan’s ephocal Subteranian Homesick Blues. This mean’s we are taking an idea and running with it. It’s happening, here’s my take, in an easily digestible format. Like Buzzfeed, but on one page, and you don’t need a sub 80 IQ to enjoy it. 

If I were doing the best song of all time, it would not be this, however as we’re doing music videos, this would be up there as one of the top numbers.
The video in particular is happy enough to distract your ADD/ADHD riddled self and send you into that procrastination mode that you were doing so so well avoiding. It’s a happy little ditty by the ever present Mr Scruff. – A gent of which I am the proud owner of several albums. Much like Princess Diana, you’ll either:
• Love it sycophantically
• Not mind it but would prefer it wasn’t on all the time
• Want to stick him in a tunnel in France and get on with your life.

I prefer the tune Spandex Man, for being a productive, and an all round, “I’m fucking happy and I’m going to get shit done today” feel which is worth checking out. For best visual and audio combination the winner is most certainly Sweetsmoke, as shown below!

If you do like it, check out more of his stuff, and a treasure trove of artists in the same field of awesome, with the Ninja Tunes record label.

Sharing the love: Biased visits to the greatest music videos of all time.

Reading Time: 1 minute

Episode 1



The people at have decided to add to its repertoire, as well as share more about our (mostly anonymous) selves.

The premise is to share what we think are some of the greatest music clips of all time.  Obviously this is highly subjective, both for songs as well as the reasoning behind the choices shared.

The first specific video clip designed as such is, potentially – so we are not necessarily reliably told – Bob Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues.  Anyone that can confirm for or against this, please do.


We can say more confidently that the first clip ever on MTV, the first dedicated music channel (as it began) was the highly appropriate Video Killed the Radio Star, by the Buggles.

Since these beginnings, at a time when audio, the base of music, has merged so adeptly with the visual medium, the music clip has provided both highlights in and of themselves, as well as given new ways into experiencing and accessing music. wants to share with you wonderful people some of what we think are the best examples of this format into enjoying music.

Note: Not all shared songs appreciated equally by all at TheNettle.  We doubt they will be by all viewers either.  However, we hope that some of you enjoy some of this!


Ben and Emily – The Market Bar – 08/07/2018

Reading Time: 5 minutes

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It’s hot as hell here at the minute and as someone who’s day job is in a greenhouse, I’m fucking miserable. With a strong desire to drink myself into a false sense of not melting, I decided to check out Ben and Emily’s gig at the Market Bar. They sell booze, I am poor, and if the music is terrible then tequila is affordable. “Let’s get shitfaced”, I thought to myself. What could go wrong?

I arrived early, knocked back a beer and got settled in. It was quiet during the soundcheck, with Ben ordering a Guinness here and there to get ready to face his public. At least, I think that was Ben. He didn’t look like an Emily, but I could always be wrong. I usually am.

Anyway, enough rambling. Let’s get down to business. I’ve seen the pair’s other band, Spring Break,  play multiple gigs in Inverness and was forewarned that this gig would be very different from them. I like Spring Break and their tropical highland hip hop. I’ll admit, I had no idea what to expect. That turned out to be a good thing.

The warmth of Emily’s vocals filled the room with happiness

The crowd had picked up a bit by the time Ben and Emily took to the stage, opening their set with a cover of a song I didn’t recognise. That’s normal, I’ve been living under a rock for the past three decades. The opener was a good indicator of what was to come; upbeat, snappy chords from Ben accompanied by Emily’s powerful and precise vocals. I knew I was going to enjoy this.

As the duo flawlessly careered through covers of Damien Rice, Paolo Nutini and Jason Mraz, it was clear that Emily was making herself at home on the stage. Ben has this air of confidence about him that allows him to look comfortable regardless of setting, whether it be a headline stage at Xpo North, or taking a leisurely dip in an Icelandic volcano. His presence seemed to reassure Emily, and coupled with the crowd’s reaction to her outstanding vocals, she blew the room away.

Ben, in an Icelandic volcano
Not Ben in a volcano.

I have to say, I was quite drunk at this point and my notes get messy. I drew a cat, pictured below for the sake of transparency.

Fuelled by vodka and heat exhaustion, my heavy heart was soon to explode with joy. Adele is a guilty pleasure of mine, and Ben and Emily’s rendition of ‘Hiding My Heart’  – and here’s a journalistic cliché – did not disappoint. Emily’s vocals were exquisite and haunting, while Ben’s soft strumming provided a melody arguably more fitting than the original. Emily’s voice filled the room with seemingly no effort, and delivered each note with the precision you’d expect from a seasoned superstar. I can say with confidence that I fell in love with her at this point, and my notes turned into a drunken stream of consciousness that was no more useful than it was comprehensible.

Next up was an acoustic cover of Lorde’s Royals. Astoundingly it was just as full of attitude and – dare I say – sass, as the original. A true testament to the talent of these two musicians. I think it was next up, anyway. I was truly shitfaced by this point; the novelty of a recovery Monday will do that to a working class hero like myself.

I am aware that I am essentially proposing marriage, six kids and a big house to Ben and Emily in this piece, but bear with me. 

Emily on full throttle

The undeniable highlight of the gig was Emily’s own song, “Little Girl”; an upbeat melody with a heartbreaking lyric to balance it out. That’s what I like- misery – dressed up all pretty and socially acceptable. The delivery of this song was full of emotion and somehow even better than the covers I’ve gushed about above. I would buy this. Hell, I WANT to buy this. Hit me up, my dudes. Hit. Me. Up.

A few more fantastically performed covers and the gig is at and end. I don’t think I’ve ever been sad to see the end of a local gig before, usually I’m dying to get to the bar and help my cirrhosis along. Not this time. It seemed the crowd agreed with me, chanting our national anthem “WAN MARE CHOON” at my new deities of choice. I resigned myself to a tomorrow full of agony and ordered myself another tequila.

As I’m writing this, I am realising that I’m finding this exceedingly difficult. That’s because I’m not used to being positive in any sense. I’m known for being, well, a bit of a dick. Yet here I am, using more complimentary adjectives than I have in my life, combined. It’s time for me to go, I’m sure there’s a child I can steal ice cream from somewhere to restore the universe to it’s natural balance, and hopefully put an end to this torturous heatwave. You’re welcome.

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Crowd in the palm of her hand – the one without the microphone.

Aidan Moffat & RM Hubbert – Mad Hatters 01/07/18

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Aidan Speaks And We Listen


Hot on the heels of the mixed bag that is XPO North, Aidan Moffat was in town and this Arab Strap fan could’ve punched himself square in the face he was so excited to see a proper musical hero up-close.

Sunday nights out tend to be pastime exclusively observed by the most professional of the unprofessionals of Inverness, but last Sunday was going to be the exception.  Many a be-bearded 30-to-40-something year old had managed to survive the frankly terrifying temperatures of the afternoon, slipped into their khaki man-shorts and then made their way to Mad Hatters to see Aidan Moffat & RM Hubbert inject some glorious angst into our already issue-riddled carcasses. 

The night started gently enough with support with the delicate tones of Siobhan Wilson.  With a soft voice and a fragility to her songs that rivals the likes of Kathryn Joseph, she soon had the half-cut me pure on her side.  Siobhan’s songs are as high-minded as she is high-trousered, add to that her barefootedness and you’d be forgiven in thinking she might be a bit of a

wannabe wanker, but somehow she manages miraculously not to stink up all of Hoots with pretentiousness as she gracefully slips between guitar and piano based numbers.  There’s an honesty to her performance that means even when she busts out a full-on French number it doesn’t even cross my mind to trade a couple of snide remarks with neighbouring cynical cunts like I would usually do at such events.    This is in itself an achievement because as some of you will know I’m a snide wee dickhead at the best of times, especially with a can of Red Stripe in one hand and a notepad in the other.  Not even the photographer from Inverness Gigs constantly getting in my view of the stage could detract from a great performance from the Elgin lass.  Siobhan’s support slot was a very convivial way to start the evening and her influence on the night was not over as she is also a key member of the Aidan Moffat and RM Hubbert line-up.



I’ve have been a fan of Aidan Moffat since his album ‘I Can Hear Your Heart’ dropped into my lap when I used to work in Borders Books (Mind that place? ‘Twas good, eh? Dead now though☹).  It was an album of songs that had more words than notes and spoke of chaotic relationships, infidelity, getting pissed and generally contained everything I was aspiring to make part of my life in my early to mid-twenties.  The album came with a booklet with a short story you had to read first before you could listen to the album track by track in order for the development of the story to make any sense.  I thought “Who even makes albums like this?” and quickly fell for Aidan’s gruff, familiar Scottish accent as he spat poetry into my grateful face whilst I mechanically stickered more pish James Blunt or Duffy albums to put on our shelves for you ignorant cunts to buy.  After my introduction to Moffat I discovered the music of his former band Arab Strap and realised what I had been missing out on all these years.  I mean, I do remember people talking about Arab Strap when I was in school, but I paid little to no heed as I was too busy being absolutely fucking lit at football and chasing dat pussy (and by pussy I mean next door’s cat – ‘Catrick Swayze’). Anyway, my point is I fucking love Aidan Moffat and everything he fucking does, alright? 



Anyway, Aidan and RM ‘Hubby’ Hubbert seem to be a match made in musical heaven.  Hubby not only adds a tremendous amount of skill and authenticity with his guitar work, he also holds court between songs adding levity to what could be described as a some pretty grim subjects of love, infidelity, denial, the theory of the multiverse, all sorts of shite – it’s all in there.  Whilst Hubbert smashes through some particularly spectacular guitar work (his own words) Aidan lends the songs his signature mix of poetical lyrics based in bleak reality tinged with a knowing sentimentality that has threaded through all of his major work since the good ol’ Arab Strap days.  Aidan has a way of making every song feel like a full-bodied chapter in a novel, each leading on to the next chapter, creating something special and speaking to the listen on a very personal basis about their own losses and victories in life and love.  A particular highlight from the night was the song ‘Zoltar Speaks’ which is a song that perfectly exemplifies not only Hubbert’s ability as a master guitarist, beautifully creating the atmospheric foundation for Aidan to then weave his signature storytelling through.  The song is short and uncomplicated, but there was not a pair of eyes or ears in the room that wasn’t trained on Aidan throughout the song, captivating every single person in the room with his tale of love at the end of a pier (who’s never had a wee cider and a cry at the end of a pier, am I right?)

Between songs, Aidan and Hubbert charm the audience with some light-hearted self-deprecating banter.  The two have known each other since their Glasgow DIY music scene days of the 90s so their close relationship is there for all to see as some good-natured jibes aimed are at Aidan for being a dour bastard whilst Hubbert deriding the crowd when a round of applause mistakenly comes before the end of a song, giving him the opportunity to remind everyone that CDs are available to buy at the merch table for those you have just embarrassed themselves by clapping too early. I was able to just buy a tshirt from the lads that night cos I am not a total amateur and I pure know when to clap cos I bought the album when it came oot, ken?!   The surprise of the night came when a cover of Yazoo’s ‘Only You’ was busted out and it was (surprisingly) an absolute delight.  A singalong was even encouraged by Aidan despite him already having expressed how much he “fucking hates” people singing along with him, but as it turns out, it’s only his own songs he hates people screaming back at him (on hearing this, I modified my behaviour accordingly). 

Throughout the set, Siobhan Wilson adds depth to proceedings with accompaniment on vocals, piano and cello (yes, on the fucking cello lads).  She is the star of the show on the track ‘Cockcrow’ where she and Aidan perform a kind of call and response track about the usual craic of complicated relationships that satisfy and frustrate in equal measure.  (Christ, this review is in danger of becoming a bit a proper bloody review from one of those real review ‘hings for a change!  Usually it’s just me talking pish about how many

Red Stripes it takes for the music to get good and which bastards I fell out with on my travels to and from the bar.  Dislike.)



Anyway, go and see these guys as soon as you can if you haven’t already – and buy the album too, eh?  It contains everything you need for a good weep in front of the mirror about how you fucked up this and that, but it also contains everything you need to 

remember that you had good bits in between all the fuck ups too. 

What more could you want?


Aidan Moffat and Scooter.

That’s all you need.