Not in the City

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Anywhere But The Cities: The tour pops into Dingwall and yes, plays to more people than The Beatles. Wednesday 8th July: an account of the evening.

Michael Pederson 300x300 - Not in the City
Michael Pederson

Amid all of the recent discussions on how best to promote gigs, yesterday evening social media came up trumps as I spotted a late announcement for the Dingwall leg of the ‘Anywhere But the Cities’ tour. If you haven’t ventured upon this innovative rural road trip featuring an ever-changing roster of performers then there may be time yet (if you’re very lucky) – Dingwall was day five of sixteen.

And what a truly pleasant entertaining and inspiring evening of poetry, animated shorts, music and whisky it turned out to be. The Greenhouse in Dingwall was at capacity with early adopters given the chance of free pizza and a beer – these folks are welcoming and generous to a fault.

Neu Reekie (a literary, music and animation collective with an international output; plus a record label and publishing house in tow) are in part responsible for this travelling festival and it was their own Michael Pederson who kicked of the performance with a recital of his poetry.

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Billy Letford

Hard on his heels was roofer and award winning poet Billy Letford. Two (of course) very different poets who held the audience and reminded us that (of course) poetry is meant to be spoken, out loud, to an audience if one is available.

I was still smiling from the first two performances when collaborators Ainslie Henderson and (Dingwall’s own) Will Anderson were invited to introduce two short animated films. Two very different movies showcased the creative ability of the duo, kicking off with Fracking. I’m no ornithologist, but it featured a cigar smoking pigeon and his buddy in what was a very funny politically astute critique of fracking. Fracking was followed by (BAFTA Award winning) Monkey Love Experiments – a beautifully conceived account of a lab monkey convinced that he is destined to be flown to the moon. Be warned, it is sad.

Onto the music and taking to the stage having extolled the virtues of Craigellachie whisky and poured newcomer Aultmore tasters for anyone who couldn’t resist, was Lomond Campbell. His acoustic set was a tad more mellow than the Aultmore and while I don’t want to upset Lomond, or Ziggy as he is perhaps better known, it’ll be his recently released debut EP ‘Only a City Apart’ that I’m more interested in (at least until I have exhausted my supplies of Glenmorangie and Edradour).

Eugene Kelly 2 300x200 - Not in the City
Eugene Kelly

Now Eugene Kelly of The Vaselines despite all of his talent and experience admitted to some nerves. He put this down to being able to look the audience in the eye but resorting to singing with eyes closed seemed to remedy the issue. If you are unfamiliar with Eugene or The Vaselines than you’ll have to accept Nirvana’s endorsement as testament to the quality of the material.

Kurt Cobain was a big fan back in the day, declaring Eugene and his collaborator Frances to be among his favourite songwriters anywhere before going on to cover three Vaseline compositions. Eugene kept his head down and moved swiftly through a five song set with little chat so apologies for being short on detail here but Jesus Don’t Want Me for a Sunbeam and Molly’s Lips (both covered by Nirvana) were really quite special.

Now what better a full stop for an evening such as this than RM Hubbert (read our interview with him from 2013). Typically he is generous with his talk and in sharing his background, his personal problems and in his accounts of the inspiration behind the songs. He was in spectacular form this evening, moving in a blink from truly sad personal accounts to punch-lines that Frankie Boyle would be proud of.

Just when you get to thinking I really need to give that man a hug he slaps you: genius. Now I had put his albums away because I was listening to them too much and was scared of over-exposure. Tonight after a four song set containing some of my favourites – he treated us to Bolt, For Joe, False Bride and Car Song – the CD’s are back in the car. Currently working hard on new material, Hubby expects to be back up north for some gigs next year; whatever else you do, don’t miss him.

Meanwhile the tour travels north to Thurso and then to Orkney, but have a look at the poster (below) and if it’s comes anywhere near your part of the world, then get yourself along. You are promised an evening to remember and some fine whisky to-boot.

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Roddy McKenzie
Roddy McKenzie
Life-long engagement with music and a truly eclectic taste (although prog-rock and metal will usually have me scrambling for the off button). If pushed, I would have to say the Velvet Underground are one of the most important band’s of all time. Although I consider myself first and foremost a photographer, as regards reviewing I guess I cut my teeth in the vibrant fanzine scene of the 80’s. Around the same time I started taking photographs and, to be brief, performance and photography were made for each other: perfect match.

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