Kelvingrove Summer Nights: Neil Hannon

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The 2017 summer season of concerts at Kelvingrove Bandstand is almost upon us. Glasgow’s beautiful, bijou outdoor arena will host the likes of Brian Wilson, Nile Rodgers & Chic, Kool & the Gang, Sir Tom Jones, Texas, Pixies, Hipsway and Arab Strap over the next couple of months, but opening proceedings are The Divine Comedy, best loved for their elegant and witty Britpop hits such as National Express and Becoming More Like Alfie.

In recent years, mainman Neil Hannon has worked on a rich variety of other projects, including a stage musical version of Swallows & Amazons, a couple of opera commissions and an organ composition, To Our Fathers In Distress, inspired by his own father, before reactivating The Divine Comedy on latest album, Foreverland.

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We spoke to Hannon ahead of his Bandstand revels on such pressing issues as his cult following, his typical childhood Sundays, his Napoleon complex and an asinine collaborator… Here is Neil on:

Touring with a band again

I was so knackered after the solo touring for the last album, Bang Goes the Knighthood. It’s very intense when you’re doing shows just by yourself. I feel I can really cut loose a little bit when there’s a band behind me. I’m mostly not playing any instruments, just singing and arsing about in a Napoleon costume. Really it’s just a great excuse to hire the costume and prance around on stage and shake my epaulettes.

Working with Wayne the donkey (who can be heard braying on Foreverland track How Can You Leave Me On My Own)

He has quite tricky to work with. You have to shake the bucket of food in a very certain way to get him to respond correctly. But he instigated that collaboration. My studio is in the front room of the house and he was in the paddock about twenty yards away, and I listened back to a demo of that song and I could hear him on the record, and I thought ‘that works really well so I’ll do it for real’ so I stuck the mic out the window, shoved some food in his direction and the rest is rock’n’roll history. Continue reading

Tigermilk Owners’ Club

Okay, so The Beach Boys’ seminal Pet Sounds is fifty years young this year, but we at Glasgow Music City Tours are minded to celebrate an album anniversary which strikes closer to home. Belle & Sebastian’s debut album Tigermilk was released twenty years ago this summer, heralding the arrival of a special Glasgow band, irrevocably linked to their city of origin.

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Just as The Smiths got under the skin of Manchester like no other chronicler, so Belle & Sebastian portrayed their native Glasgow with an idiosyncratic urban romance, far removed from the city’s bygone hard man image. Twenty years on, there is still no one else who sounds quite like this group.

The abridged origins legend goes like this: frontman Stuart Murdoch had been writing and demoing songs for a number of years before stealth recruiting a crack team of musicians to play them. “Have you ever seen The Magnificent Seven?” asks the Tigermilk sleevenotes. “It was like that, only more tedious.”

Our guide Fiona talks about attending Belle & Sebastian’s debut gig in this short Visit Scotland film. Held in a flat which was home to assorted band members, the gig was “sold out”, so she listened in from the hallway. It was muffled, but still impressive.

For a brief moment, in her capacity as a music reviewer, she was permitted to hold and even play the test pressing of the group’s debut album, recorded as part of Stow College’s music course and released on the college’s fledging indie label Electric Honey, in a limited vinyl edition of 1000.

Given the indie baroque brilliance of the music and Belle & Sebastian’s instant cult status, copies of the album from that original pressing run quickly became desirable collector’s items. We are tickled/proud/smug to say that all three GMCT directors each own original editions, and you can see us clutching them possessively below Check out The State We Are In.

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But with the album’s 20th birthday looming, we got to wondering where are our fellow Tigermilk travellers? Inspired by the fabled Blue Monday Owners’ Club we would like to put out a call to the other 997 members of what we have chosen to christen the Tigermilk Owners’ Club. We imagine it to be an exclusive but friendly body, defined partly by a love of lyrical indie pop whimsy and probably also by residency round and about Scotland’s Central Belt in the mid-1990s.

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But where are you all now? And what did/does the album mean to you? Did you buy it at the time? Or sell your grandmother to acquire an original copy at a later date? Is it gathering dust, or never off your turntable?

If you feel you can claim membership of the Tigermilk Owners Club, please send us a picture of you posing with your beloved platter – accompanied, if you like, by a few lines of associated memories/stories.

Send your pics to info@glasgowmusiccitytours.com and, once we have a few, we’ll set up a Tigermilk Owners Club page on this site.

And don’t be trying to pass off any of those mass-produced 1999 re-issues as 1996 originals, or we shall be mildly miffed. We’re looking forward to meeting you all, and will post an update on the anniversary — June 6th.

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Glasgow City Music Tour Playlist

To mark the success of our first rehearsal run of the Glasgow’s Music Mile tour on Saturday and in anticipation of the maiden voyage of our Merchant City Music Past and Present tour this Friday, we are pleased to launch our Spotify playlist. It’s over there, on the right. You’ll probably need to scroll down.

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Like any good jukebox, we’ll be changing the records from time to time to keep things fresh. We’re also happy to take requests so do get in touch via Twitter, Facebook or email us at info@glasgowmusiccitytours.com with suggestions of Glasgow gems or musical themes you would like to hear represented.

Other themed playlists will follow but we are debuting with a soundtrack inspired by some of the venues we visit on our tours matched to our favourite Glasgow artists and songs. Walk and roll! Continue reading

Scottish Album of the Year shortlist

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The 2015 Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) Award shortlist was announced last night and, in a heartbeat, twenty long listed albums became ten.

Paolo Nutini’s Caustic Love won the public vote, automatically ensuring a coveted place on the shortlist.

Elsewhere, the Award retained its capacity to surprise, not so much for who was selected but for who wasn’t. Continue reading