Sunday at Glen’s Party at The Palace 2017
Day 2 of Glen’s Party at The Palace began with one of those performances which – as a music photographer – you really don’t experience all that often. If you go to gigs regularly, you’ll probably know that photographers generally have the first three songs of a set to get the shots they need before they have to leave the pit area. So time is always precious. However, soon after Jack Stark and his band launched into their first song, I found myself putting my camera down and watching them instead.
That song was Kalopsia, and it’s a hell of an attention grabber! It’s a song which steadily grows from an intro consisting of a delicate acoustic guitar riff, to a thunderous climax with pounding drums, driving bass and really intense (acoustic) guitar. But perhaps most impressive of all was the power and dynamism of Stark’s vocal performance which drove this juggernaut of a song along. There were changes of pace and style aplenty throughout the rest of what was a fabulous set, but it was that first song which was the standout for me. Needless to say his debut EP Our Winter has now been bought, and I suggest you check it out too!
Next onstage was BMX Bandits. Now, even if you’ve never heard of them, such has been their influence on the Scottish indie music scene over the years I can GUARANTEE that you will have heard many artists and bands who have been inspired by them in some way. In fact, that influence has even extended to music greats such as Nirvana frontman Curt Cobain, who once stated that if he could be in any other band it would be them. Frontman Duglas Stewart led the PATP audience on a romp through songs from their new album Forever, dropping in on classics like E102 along the way. Unconventional, quirky and joyous – the BMX Bandits were an absolute blast!
Party Fears Three were next on and immediately set about turning up the party atmosphere with their versions of some of the titanic hits of the eighties. Starting with A-ha’s classic The Sun Always Shines on TV, before performing Tears For Fears’ Mad World and Ultravox’s Vienna, this was proper old school pop music given a contemporary feel. And for the many 40 somethings in the audience it was a chance to remind all the youngsters present that pop music in the eighties DIDN’T SUCK!
As Dodgy kicked off their set with the classic Staying Out For The Summer, I had to remind myself that the band released that song twenty-three years ago. But the thing is, it sounded just as fresh and modern in the Linlithgow sunshine on Sunday as it did upon its release all those years ago. And the same can be said for the other songs in their set which came from that era; In a Room, So Let Me Go Far and If You’re Thinking of Me. Frontman Nigel Clark was in fine form and he had plenty of banter with the audience. Highlight of their set was final song Good Enough For You – an upbeat, bouncy end to a timeless festival performance.
I don’t care what anybody says, but you just can’t have a party without a bit of Abba. Thankfully, the PATP organisers agree and this year they brought along the best Abba tribute band in the business to provide exactly that. Obviously for the most part Bjorn Again‘s performance was a no-nonsense, crowd pleasing, by-the-numbers trip through the biggest hits of one of the greatest pop bands in history. However there was always room for a little bit of improvisation. The way they segued into The Police’s Message in a Bottle at the end of SOS was pretty fun and worked surprisingly well.
Now, I have to admit that even before setting foot in the festival this year I had already decided that the next band onstage would be my music highlight of the entire weekend. It’s no exaggeration to say that even though Hipsway were only around for about a year or so in the mid-eighties, yours truly (and many others in the PATP crowd) have waited DECADES to see them perform live again.
So, after all this time what were they like? Well, frontman Grahame Skinner’s velvety vocals and the band’s smooth funk-driven groove were simply awesome. Every one of their songs – from opener Set This Day Apart, to their hit singles Honeythief and Tinder, to final song Long White Car – may be over 30 years old, but each and every one of them have defied time. But then, great music always does.
When I was a teenager, I used to roll my eyes when older people told me that the ‘modern music’ I was listening to was rubbish, and that it was much better in ‘their day’. While I wouldn’t go as far as to make that claim – and really trying to set sentimentality aside – the music Hipsway played here has the beating of anything in the charts today. It’s brilliant that Hipsway have been gigging again and I hope there will be more shows in the near future. Perhaps a co-headline tour with Love and Money? Just saying…
Then the clouds parted, and the evening sun blazed onto the PATP stage as Razorlight rocked into first song In The Morning. It was an almost religious combination of events as Johnny Borrell and his band grabbed the festival by the scruff of the neck and simply took off.
Borrell is the kinda guy who divides opinion, but his talent as a frontman is undoubted. And he was fantastic here. Highlights of a typically dynamic and high-energy set included the Golden Touch, Fall To Pieces and the brilliant Somewhere Else. But it was during the last song of their set – the absolutely awesome America – when I felt that if you were somehow able to capture and bottle the perfect summer music festival moment, this would be it.
As the sun disappeared below the horizon it was time for the final artist of the weekend. Amy MacDonald is without a shadow of a doubt one of the biggest Scottish music success stories from any genre of the last two decades. What I admire about her most is that in an age when music company execs seem to be more concerned about style over substance, hard work and dedication still ensures that real talent like hers can still rise to the very top.
This was the first time MacDonald had been on Scottish soil for some time and she seemed to revel in the opportunity to play in front of a home audience. As you’d expect, everything about her performance screamed class. Her band was as tight as a snare drum and her individual vocal performance stood head and shoulders above everything that had preceded her.
For someone so small in stature and who is so softly spoken, MacDonald is incredibly commanding and powerful when she sings. And when the pace builds it’s genuinely surprising how big and intense her acoustic guitar-driven music becomes. But the thing that I really love about artists like MacDonald is when she sends the rest of her band offstage and she continues, guitar in hand, on her own. To my mind there is nothing more impressive than an artist who can keep such a large audience in the palm of their hand with only their guitar, their voice and (considerable) talent.
Highlight of a truly wonderful set which contained songs from her four albums to date was going to be a predictable toss-up between Mr Rock & Roll and This Is The Life. That was until she performed a stripped-back version of Prepare to Fall at the beginning of her encore. Featured on her latest album Under Stars, the song is utterly, utterly stunning. Think that’s about the best way I can sum it up! And it’s probably the most appropriate adjective to describe Amy MacDonald’s performance as a whole. No more words needed!
So, as the evening came to an end amid rapturous applause and pyrotechnics, we headed out of PATP having been – once again – totally blown away. Every year the PATP organisers somehow manage to top the previous year’s effort and this year was no different. And every year as I walk out of the arena I ask myself the same damned question – how are the organisers possibly gonna top what we’ve just seen? Deep down I know they will find a way!
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