Hogmanay in Glasgow and Edinburgh 2008

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GLASGOW

Ring in the new
Kirstin Innes looks at the options for celebrating Hogmanay in Glasgow this year

While George Square is always the focal point for Glasgow’s Hogmanay celebrations, the party has become decentralised in recent years, with reliably strong line-ups at the city’s live music venues and clubs adding to the fun.

Still, 15,000 people are expected to squeeze into George Square, where a family-friendly line-up kicks off at 9pm, with a DJ set from local legend Tam Coyle. We’re famously fond of our rhinestones in the West, particularly at this time of year, so an appearance from ultimate tribute act Supiciously Elvis (that’s Presley, not Costello) seems very apt, after which Amy Macdonald’s honeyed, increasingly ubiquitous vocals warm the stage for Dundonian tykes The View.

If you don’t fancy risking your Hogmanay hairdo, there are plenty of great indoor options this year, too. The ABC carries on the tribute act tradition as ace Blondie impersonators Bleachie do the New Wave New Year, after which you can choose your own headliners for the night. If you want to see in 2008 with post-rock pomp and circumstance, then head to ABC2 for a Krautrocky electronic session with Mogwai’s ‘golden children’, Errors; if you’re already a little, er, excitable, get even bouncier and squeakier as Bis start up the Teen-C revolution once more under Europe’s biggest disco ball.

A hop, skip and a jump across a doubtlessly Hogmanayed-up Sauchiehall Street, and you’ll find Nice’n’Sleazy’s making the most of their brand new club space and late opening hours, with the Nuts and Seeds and Meow Mix DJs taking over both floors, and a heavy-duty line up of very special guests. This is probably the best option if you were overly-generous with the Christmas presents this year – tickets are only £5, or £3 in advance, and the music is bound to be good.

However, if it’s a truly, truly massive clubbing experience you’re after, there’s no point looking any further than Subculture (SubClub and Classic Grand, 10pm–5am). Not content with banging about in the SubClub basement, they’ve colonised the Classic Grand upstairs as well, with a starry lineup that includes Derrick Carter, Todd Terje and Matthew Johnson, with local party boys Cotton Cake bringing in the coal and black bun.
See www.winterfestglasgow.com, www.abcglasgow.com, www.nicensleazy.com or www.mypace.com/yoursubculture for more info

AMY MACDONALD
So her aspirations to become a geography teacher have been sidelined to make way for hanging out with Weller, Doherty and Travis but Amy Macdonald is as unassuming as ever, finds Malcolm Jack
Between Jamie T, Kate Nash and Remi Nicole, young and gifted singer- songwriters have been all over the last 12 months like teenagers at a Topshop sale. So what’s so special about the 20-year-old Glaswegian pop rock starlet Amy Macdonald?

A down to earth charm well beyond that of any of her peers, for starters. Your average rocker would likely celebrate the windfall from their debut album peaking at number two by going on a weeklong bender. Amy? She invested in a ‘wee house’, in her native Bishopbriggs. ‘It’s really a nice little town, and quite a cool place to live,’ states Macdonald, affectionately, of her East Dunbartonshire patch. ‘I love my little house.’

Macdonald’s was a regular adolescence, spent going to gigs and doing well enough at school to be accepted to study social sciences at uni. That is, before another of her talents intervened: Macdonald had been strumming away on an acoustic guitar since the age of 12, writing songs, discovering her formidable singing voice, performing at open mic nights and recording demos in her bedroom. One of them netted her a publishing deal, and her academic plans were suddenly shelved. ‘After a few months I signed to Universal, so I deferred entry,’ Macdonald explains. A dizzying 2007 followed in which said longplayer This Is the Life went gold in just four days, and she supported Elton John, Paul Weller and her idols Travis among others. ‘It’s been strange. I’ve been given so many amazing opportunities. It’s been really exciting.’

Cynics have been quick to stick it to her youthful, winsome music, for being naïvely simplistic. To which she responds, ‘People say, “Oh, you’re so young, you’ve got nothing good to write about”,’ grumbles Macdonald. ‘Why don’t I? It’s the most exciting time of your life, so I’ve got even more to write about.

‘Also, if everything was to fall apart tomorrow, because I’m still young, I can go to uni and start a new career,’ she adds, sagely. As a geography teacher, her original career goal? ‘Yeah, definitely,’ Mcdonald replies. ‘I’ve already done so much and met so many amazing people that I don’t think I could really complain.’

She’ll close a memorable year by co-headlining Glasgow’s George Square Hogmanay bash. ‘I’m really excited,’ she says, of the gig. ‘And I’m honoured to be asked.’ Who would she most like to have performing at her own New Year hoe-down? She smiles. ‘Travis, The Libertines and Bruce Springsteen. It’ll happen. At my house after George Square.’

Barrowlands, Glasgow, Fri 14 Dec. Glasgow’s Hogmanay, George Square, Mon 31 Dec.

EDINBURGH

Edinburgh rocks
Tradition meets the contemporary in a diverse programme of events for the capital’s Hogmanay, finds Allan Radcliffe

Scotland is famed across the world for its New Year celebrations, and the capital’s Hogmanay programme is widely regarded as the biggest and most vibrant party of them all. This year’s four-day festival, from Saturday 29 December to Tuesday 1 January, is expected to attract in excess of 100,000 visitors from around the globe.

The festival kicks off with a bang thanks to the now-familiar Torchlight Procession (29 Dec, 6.30pm). Beginning with a spectacular firework display in Parliament Square, the procession then winds along the Royal Mile to Calton Hill, culminating in the ceremonial burning of a Viking longship and wicker effigy, a reminder of the festival’s origins as a pagan celebration. This event is free and unticketed but proceeds from sales of torches (which can be purchased online at www.edinburghshogmanay.com) go to One City Trust and Radio Forth’s Help a Child Appeal.

The Night Afore’s Monster Ceilidh (30 Dec, from 8pm) takes over the Assembly Rooms and most of George Street, offering an ambitious mix of music, street theatre and storytelling, with giant performing monsters thrown in for good measure, and it’s all free. There’s something for everyone here, from Keilidh-oke, hosted by Chewing the Fat star Karen Dunbar and storytelling from comedians Phil Kay and Craig Hill to a mix of traditional and contemporary dance on the All-Dancin’ stage and music from some of the hottest names on the traditional music scene, including the Jimi Shandrix experience. Other highlights include The Massed Pipes and Drums, who will be skirlin’, birlin’ and dirlin’ their way down the Mound, while the Portobello Ceilidh Band will be leading off another world record breaking Strip the Willow on George Street from 9pm.

For those looking for a gentle start, St Giles’ Cathedral’s Candlelit Concert (31 Dec, 7.30pm) features music from Bach and Mozart performed by some of Scotland’s finest young soloists, including a rendition of Mozart’s ‘Exsultate Jubilate’ from Kate Valentine. The music shifts up a gear for The Hoog (Assembly Rooms, from 7.30pm) and Hoog Royale (Queens Hall, from 7.30pm), a pair of indoor Hogmanay ceilidhs featuring energetic music from the Belle Star Band, Teannaich, Blaze in the Bothy and John Cowan’s Lairds of Dixieland to take you through to the wee small hours.

But it’s Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Street Party that marks the capital out as the place to go for a unique New Year experience, and, with three live music stages and two giant screens, this year is no exception. The Waverley Stage is headlined by King Creosote, aka Fife-based singer-songwriter Kenny Anderson, currently delighting fans and critics with his latest album, Bombshell. He’s supported by a line-up that includes ethno-trance dance group Trans-Global Underground with indie guitar pop from tipped band Figure 5. On the Scott Monument Stage homegrown talent, the Red Hot Chilli Pipers join forces with British Asian fusion band Kissmet, while dance junkies can thrill to the sounds of the Great Calverto, TM Hands, Go Lem System and New Order bassist Peter Hook’s DJ set.

As ever, the biggest names of the night have been reserved for the Concert in the Gardens (Princes Street Gardens from 10pm), headlined this year by Kasabian and supported by Scottish stars Calvin Harris and Idlewild (see feature, right). While around three quarters of the tickets have already been sold for this event, street party passes and tickets are still available from www.edinburghshogmanay.com.

For those unable to lay their hands on a golddust ticket for the party in the gardens, the skies will be lit up by the Citywide Fireworks displays, launched from Edinburgh Castle and other surrounding hills at the bells, and easily visible from vantage points across the capital.

Throughout the week between Christmas and Hogmanay, the Filmhouse will be screening a series of films inspired by the 2007 celebration of Highland culture, entitled Highland Myths (see feature, page 13). Meanwhile, hangover-free history lovers can make their way up the cobbles the morning after the night before as Edinburgh Castle will be throwing open her doors for the first time on New Year’s Day.

While some of us are content to spend the first day of the year lying on the sofa watching TV, there are a number of events for active types. As well as the annual Loony Dook into the water beneath the Forth Rail Bridge, there’s a gentle, one-mile One O’Clock Run from the castle to Holyrood Park as well as a kids duathlon. Meanwhile, more serious athletes are invited to take part in the Edinburgh Bicycle Triathlon (Holyrood Park, 12.30pm), while Edinburgh’s Dogmanay (Holyrood Park, 1.30pm) features elite canine athletes competing on a series of display races.
For full details, news and updates, visit www.edinburghshogmanay.com

NEW YEAR MOVIES
Paul Dale casts an approving eye over the seasonal programme at Edinburgh’s Filmhouse
For the last three years the Filmhouse has worked in conjunction with Edinburgh’s Hogmanay to bring a filmic dimension to the festivities. Last year the programme was curated by the Goethe Institut and the theme was Early German Sound Films, to tie in with Night Afore’s German theme. This year the focus is on celebrating Highland Culture through the medium of cinema, with Filmhouse and Unique Events teaming up to present an eclectic and entertaining selection of films set in and around the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.

This season of ten films kicks off with Stephen Whittaker’s likeable drama The Rocket Post (2002). Set in the Hebrides in 1936, the film is based on the true story of German rocket scientist Gerhard Zucker who was employed by the British in 1936 to link a remote Scottish community to the mainland by a rocket propelled post service.

From here on in every film in this season is a winner. There’s a rare outing for John Mackenzie and John McGrath’s 1974 Highland clearance grievance drama The Cheviot, the Stag and Black, Black Oil (first developed with McGrath’s legendary 7:84 touring theatre company) and two very precious gems from Powell and Pressburger – I Know Where I’m Going (1945) and The Edge of the World (their brilliant 1937 film detailing the evacuation of St Kilda).

Other highlights include David MacDonald’s 1947 adaptation of Leonard Strong’s powerful novel The Brothers (screening here with John Gray’s lyrical short West Highland) plus time honoured Scottish related classics Whisky Galore, Brigadoon and The Wicker Man (1973 version). Proceedings are then brought bang up to date with closing film Seachd: The Inaccessible Pinnacle, Simon Miller’s lovely Gaelic language paean to the art of storytelling.

Seachd will be introduced by Donald Smith, director of the Scottish Storytelling Centre, and writer and storyteller Martin MacIntyre and will be followed by a live storytelling performance drawing on some of the tales featured in the film. As the great essayist and cultural historian Harold Goddard once noted, ‘The destiny of the world is determined less by the battles that are lost and won than by the stories it loves and believes in.’

Finishing their year as one of the main attractions at Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, Idlewild have achieved a lot in 2007. They talk to Mark Robertson about growing up, good music and getting their own way

Highland Reels, Filmhouse, Edinburgh, Wed 26 Dec–Thu 3 Jan. www.filmhousecinema.com

IDLEWILD
Finishing their year as one of the main attractions at Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, Idlewild have achieved a lot in 2007. They talk to Mark Robertson about growing up, good music and getting their own way

As everyone knows being in a rock band is a total scam. Parties, free stuff, working an hour-and-a-half a day, it doesn’t really qualify as a proper job does it? It’s the endeavour Idlewild have been engaged in for a decade now and while they’ve yet to qualify for their Amy Winehouse School of Hedonism club memberships, they’ve traversed the planet, amps cranked to te-and-a-half, delivering their charming brand of rock in their own inimitable style.

Frontman Roddy Woomble sits at home nursing a cup of tea and a recently broken toe – he had it crushed by an amplifier while helping unload a van for his wife Ailidh Lennon’s band Sons and Daughters. ‘Its a mess,‘ he confesses. ‘The amp just fell and smashed the top. I’ve to be off it for five weeks.’ I point out Hogmanay is only four weeks away. ‘Oh yeah. Ach, it’ll be fine.’

Their appearance beside Calvin Harris and Kasabian at Princes Street Gardens brings to a climax one of the most productive years in the band’s history. When it’s suggested their Hogmanay is a full stop on a frenzied year Woomble is quick to point out just how manageable it has been. ‘On paper we’ve had a frenetic year, yes,’ he admits. ‘It started with the Ballads of the Book in the spring. Then the Idlewild record (Make Another World) came out in March and we did a tour, played a few festivals over the summer and then put out our Best Of album and toured for that. And I’ve just finished the Burnsong project with the likes of Midge Ure and Norman Blake (of Teenage Fanclub) which was great in a slightly shambolic way. It looks like quite a busy year, but for the first time ever it was paced correctly. We were able to have a normal life and also be in a band, because generally, it’s normally one or the other.’

The band split with label EMI in 2006, a move that signified a change of heart for the band. ‘We made a decision after Warnings/Promises in 2003 that we were going to be in charge of what we did,’ says Woomble. ‘We weren’t going to chase this carrot dangling in front of us.’

Woomble cites Wilco and Pearl Jam as examples of bands with a similar inspirational ethic, bands keen to trade on their own terms, under their own steam. Asked for his personal highlight of 2007, he names three: a guest slot at Pearl Jam’s Wembley show (the bands toured America together in 2003), Ballads of the Book coming to fruition and the band’s headlining spot at Connect Festival.

‘Connect was the first time we’d ever done a Scottish headline show and it was a great festival. It’s one of the few events that feels like its doing it properly,’ he says.
There’s one last chance to add to that list with their brief but significant part in the revelry in Princess Street Gardens at Hogmanay. Charged with the job of warming up the hordes in the run up to the bells, Idlewild are no strangers to the festivities so we should be in safe hands.

‘I’ve been to it three times, years ago when I used to be a student in Edinburgh and it was packed. I remember one year, it must have taken me about two hours to get down the Mound. There were so many people, I lost everyone I was with and ended up drinking Tennent’s lager with a random bunch of strangers.’

Main Stage, Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh, Mon 31 Dec.

Edinburgh's Hogmanay Street Party

Famed as one of the best New Year celebrations in the world, thousands of revellers bring in the New Year in the centre of Edinburgh with a mix of live music, DJs and varying knowledge of the lyrics to 'Auld Lang Syne'. On the bill this year are Maximo Park, Slaves, Peatbog Faeries, Shooglenify, WHITE and Craig Charles…

Glasgow Loves Hogmanay

A programme of family activities for the daytime and early evening of Hogmanay, including traditional music and children’s activities.

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