If you have never been to Detour, quite frankly, you need to better yourself. The concept of Detour is to wow and inspire. It’s about the journey as well as the music. You could say it is a musical journey! This elaborate musical escapade will ruin you for normal gigs in the future.
We’re lost. Jay and I have just bolted our ride and we’re running down the middle of the road. We have 5 minutes to get to the meeting point. We spot the St.Enoch centre and head straight for it (in a some what less appropriate manner i.e. stumbling and coming close to chucking up our breakfast). We’re both still drunk from the night before and have come straight from Leith. We’ve had no sleep. We are doomed.
After asking a shop assistant “where the f**ck are we?” and how to get to where we want to be, we eventually catch sight of a colourful congregation. It is an elite collection of large quiffs, woolly cardigans, skinny jeans, plaid shirts and retro spectacles – it is a living Topshop. And I am a rustic pikey with an alcoholic aroma…
So names are checked and ticked on “the list” and we are set. I look around and spot a lot of well known faces, Susan Ford, Jessica Newell, David Bell, Richy Muirhead, Ross Clark, Ross Leighton, Jim Gellatly and Donald Sutherland?? Artists I have interview or otherwise reviewed, promoters I have worked with, radio DJs , photographers and lots of camera operators too. I am mortified. One of the hosts, Ally McCrae, gathers us round to tell us to follow him, and we’re off.
First stop: House of Dixon to a winding staircase with a three-piece band, each placed on a different landing. The Carnivores crank up the volume with ravenous raunchy melodic noise as the coiled audience strategically rocks out.
To The Arches, where a young man named… (I can’t remember) sings a beautiful song about (something beautiful) He has longish blonde hair and Ross Clark joins in and they sing a lovely song together which brings everyone to silence… it is the most calming moment I have had all weekend and I feel the sleep seeping in.
But, no time for rest – we’re led in groups under the foundations of the building to another secret location – a large concrete bunker with a guitar in the middle of the room. We sit ourselves down in front of it. The camera men flutter about like vision-hungry butterflies… if butterflies could hold and operate a video camera… but anyway, The Parsonage choir honour us with a soulful change of pace and harmonise a dreamy story telling of love, life and longing. I’m quite taken by their performance. “Bunch of trendy pricks” indeed.
On to the next stop – Urban Outfitters, where we are all led to the top floor of the store. The sound of heavy bass and ripping guitar riffs flood our ears. I apologise for not remembering the band of progressive music’s name, but the drummer keeps beating the life out of his kit and it falls apart. Our cue to leave.
We are then shepherded to Sainsburys to top up on booze, in our case, we get fruit mentos and sandwiches. We are still more drunk then everyone else around us. We even have items of clothing on inside out. I’m missing a sock and my dignity. I know where I left them but I’m not going back to get them.
Around the corner from Sainburys we go to the Love Music record store were a man sits on the door step playing a progressive acoustic set. One of the Juanteers shelters him from the rain with her umbrella and we listen in the summer showers.
An open-top bus pulls up along side us and even while this man plays to us we are ushered onto the bus – but only if you’re on the list. This is when Jay and I say our goodbyes and part ways. He gets to go home and sleep, while I have to climb up the stairs of this bus and try not to vomit. This kind of thing may build character, but it just gives me living nightmares.
By this time I have the shakes and I wrap up and stick on an old knitted hat. Drummer of Mopp, Liam Chapman, sits down next to me. But I have no idea who he is at this time. Detour thinks it will be fun to have some entertainment for the journey, not that anyone really needs it because they can see into the future at this point with their cans of premixed gin and tonic. A hyperactive chav steps on board and grabs the mic. He starts dishing the insults and taking the piss out of all of us. This is it. I can feel the future shame churn inside me. I will not be sick on the boy next to me. I am going to stay quiet and inhale the fresh air. The comedian leans on Chapman’s head while dishing his witty repertoire, and then my hat is pulled off my head to reveal a flat Spanish fro. Gutted. He makes a comment on how I shouldn’t dress like a fish wife from the 1930s. I personally don’t think he should dress like a poison ned dwarf of Kappa, but that is his get up.
We are driven to a country park (Rouken Glen – Ed) and by this time everyone is bursting for a piss. When all have found relief, we are led into the forest where Ross Clark of Three Blind Wolves, pimped out with his acoustic one-piece, is standing in the middle of a shallow river. We gather ourselves on it banks and take in this woodland scene. He blends into the background like a watercolour. He sings ‘Emily Rose’, a song which I have a particular fondness and for an instant he makes me forget my hangover and general all-over pain. A rare moment of complete escapism aptly placed in the middle of nowhere.
But again we’re jogging on and we catch up with the glorious Aerials Up. Mounted on top of a little hill we are all sheltered by the leaf canopy which acts as a barrier to make a more concentrated sound. ‘Stay Awake’ is accompanied by the voices of birds and the sunlight sneaks a peek through the pinhole spaces in between the leaves. We are flooded by the echoes of Ruth’s cello… which is pretty cool.
Ahhhhhhhhhhh! Big blow up balls! They’re the kind that you crawl into and jump about and roll around in! Vic Galloway’s producer decides to attack them using her head. She runs at them full force head first like an angry child. Ally takes it upon himself to keep her calm – hah!
That keeps us occupied until we go to the next location. Make Sparks are rocking out on the waterfront by the time we all find them. The sun sets behind them and the last glimmers of day descend. It’s picturesque, an ‘in the moment’ moment, the kind that burns into the brain. This is all coming from someone who isn’t very sentimental, but today has been odd and stranger things have happened, I’m sure.
Now it’s back on the bus and we’re bound for Bloc where one last surprise awaits us, but not until the “Wee Man” comedian has a dance-off with the half naked Richy Muirhead – one of the two new booking agents for Classic Grand (the other booker being Wull Swales).
Blochestra is the last act of the night, and they are the house band of Bloc. An array of artists have been picked from other bands to form this musical elite. They kick off with an a cappella rendition of Bon Iver’s ‘For Emma, Forever Ago’: yes, it is about me – guilty. It’s stunning. All the members keep in time by holding a hand over their heart and tap into rhythm. It’s the perfect way to start off the end of the night.
All in all the events of the day have been beautiful, frightening, exciting and hilarious. I’ve met some great people and they have met me. I urge you to try it. It truly is an adventure, and if anything you will get to experience some of the best music around. And what’s more the people making the music go on the journey with you. They don’t scurry off back stage and hang out in a green room, they are in the audience with you. You can chat to one another and get drunk and have a laugh. Detour breaks the rules and opens you up to a new way of experiencing music.
The next Detour is the 15th of September at Bloc on Bath Street and I defy anyone who comes out of it unchanged.