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Gig review

6 Music Festival – King Creosote / Baloji / Wedding Present / The Pastels

Following the more highbrow discussions of yesterday’s event (ok, and John Lydon’s views on Donald Trump), the Sunday segment of 6 Music’s stint at the Tramway is more about the music – the making of the sounds as much as live performances.

Belle and Sebastian are represented by Stuart Murdoch – sadly Stevie Jackson is in charge of soundchecking for the band’s show later on that evening at the Academy. So instead we get a more personal chat with the band’s leader – how the Belles became an outlet for his original solo work and how he’s a fan of “magical bands” – adding that solo singers are “ok” too, tongue firmly in cheek.

The subject of the band’s cover artwork is also touched on as he reveals how he once went for a job with Edinburgh ents publication The List and following that magazine’s policy of making applicants work for their interview, how he fabricated an art exhibition (no, he didn’t get the position, Scottish indie music’s gain). Obtaining a record deal was a rather simpler process it seems, though he freely admits that it is now “harder to get your foot in the door than 20 years ago.”

Talking of revelations, his love of the double denim of the Quo also comes to light as well as some childhood memories of the Tramway itself as “the place where trams go to sleep”.

A slight overlap means a swift dash (no queueing) to the big Tramshed to catch King Creosote, who is with band showcasing new-ish release ‘Astronaut Meets Appleman’. During ‘Love Life’ he gets in a comical tangle with his mic cable, but fortunately Mark Radcliffe is on hand to help out.
As ever, KC has a grand way with words: “Her jealous accusations know no bounds, Scarlett Johansson was never in my house” the pick of the bunch.

Again, thanks to the press pass we can dip in and out, and take in Baloji – described to me as an “African rapper” my hopes aren’t high, but the Congolese singer’s “breakfast concert” sees him well and truly warmed up. Despite the dark theatre, the carnival atmosphere of his music shines through – this may be the 6 Music Festival, but these are sounds for the great outdoors.
Exuberant and exhilarating, this is one act that showcases brilliantly the variety of 6.

Another act that fits the bill, the mission statement or the mood of the weekend is local(ish) lass Anna Meredith. The Scottish Album of the Year winner fills another busy theatre crowd on how she got to where she is today. Fitting in with the station’s slightly (ok, relatively) cerebral reputation, Meredith comes across as completely down-to-earth, despite her classical-oriented music by nature attracting the ‘highbrow’ tag.

The music-making process is covered, starting with praise for Edinburgh’s after-school music classes for children. Now the SSO’s Composer in residence, she also makes music for schoolkids, as well as for music for MRI patients. Describing herself as a control freak when letting an orchestra loose on her music, she also describes her her compositional technique – before, unusually, starting off in Sibelius she (even more unusually) draws up a sonic picture of how the whole thing would look (sadly no artwork was displayed).

The record label stalls, or those which stayed, are doing a good trade now, with punters being aware of their presence and presumably bringing enough cash to snap up some Arab Strap white labels and the like. The indies are also able to cash in on the slightly wonky scheduling which sees some gaps in the programming when neither a talk in the wee studio or a gig in the larger Tramway is on. Thus, it’s a touch infuriating that 6’s core audience i.e. people who grew up with C86, are forced to choose between the Wedding Present and the Pastels. David Gedge – the last remaining original member of course – is now celebrating the 30 years since the Weddoes’ debut ‘George Best‘, and mixing ‘My Favourite Dress’ with material that is three decades younger but still genuinely sounding as just good.

But we are here to learn the ins and outs of the music business, and who better than a Scottish veteran musician, as well as record label head honcho at Geographic and indeed, co-owner of one of the stalls outside – Monorail.
It’s a fun trawl back to the days of 1986 and beyond for us and for Stephen Pastel, who talks about how the 53rd and 3rd label was set up – basically because “Creation couldn’t sign everyone” — and how The Vaselines appeared alongside The Shop Assistants and Boy Hairdressers despite (or perhaps in spite of) to being “a bit more rock’n’roll and sleazy”.

Gideon Coe also asks about ‘Pastels References in Popular song’, which has the singer as flummoxed as myself as I can’t find any reference to this website (?). Stephen himself does recall a publication called the Pastels are Dead – less fan and more HATEzine, apparently. As is the pattern for the weekend, the band play a trio of tunes – ‘Wilderness’ from David MacKenzie’s film soundtrack, as well as a Tenniscoats track, and ‘Summer Rain’.

The 6 Music presenter also ‘grills’ the singer about his own project, and as per The Blue Nile on Saturday’s panel, it turns out that although “the cycle has started, we’ll accelerate in good time”. As per the signings on Geographic, Stephen’s label will only sign something they’re passionate about – which, it seems, applies to their own music too.
And conveniently, sums up the station and many of those present this weekend. Thanks for the music, 6, come back any time.

See the review of Saturday’s Tramway event

By Stuart McHugh

itm? head honcho

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