Preview of the year 2007
- Allan Radcliffe
- 3 January 2007
2007 is about the future. And about the past. It’s about some young buck called James McAvoy who’s going to dominate our screens, and it’s about a host of new ‘grown-up’ festivals. Find out what else is in store in our guide to the year ahead.
We may not be flying around in hover cars or wearing spangly all-silver outfits, but thanks to the internet the future has truly arrived. And the revolution will continue apace in 2007, argues Suzanne Black.
A brand new civilisation has sprung up. Heralded as ‘web 2.0’ and the democratisation of the internet, the vast majority of people in the Western World live some part of their lives online.
The defining feature of this new era of the web is ‘user generated content’. The creation of interactive, user-friendly sites like Wikipedia, iTunes, MySpace and Flickr have opened the floodgates to mass immigration. It is now incredibly simple to create and share words, pictures, sound and video, and to access it.
In the early days, blogging was like arriving off a plane, jetlagged, in a foreign country with no map. Flash forward 20 years and the alien technology of the computer world has been humanised and made second nature. As people have gravitated onto the internet, a process not unlike hyper-speed colonisation has occurred. At last count MySpace, had 110 million users making it the 10th biggest population in the world, just behind Mexico.
This shift to virtual territory will continue. The shift from ownership to access (downloading a song rather than physically holding a CD) will extend as it has done in the realms of knowledge. With Google and Wikipedia at your fingertips there is no need to commit anything to memory.
With the proliferation of profiling sites (MySpace, Bebo), identities have become more to do with a person’s online interface than physical impressions. The link between a person and their online presence is murky. It won’t be long until an online citizen gains problematic autonomy. Perhaps the first murder committed by a virtual entity?
In addition to personal changes, the landscape of the internet is under construction. At the moment cyberspace is rapidly working to resemble the ‘real world’. With corporate monoliths gobbling up all the these sites that contain millions of users’ personal details and advertisers become ever cleverer, big business has taken root. International laws regarding copyright and e-commerce are also striving to put structures in place marking the internet’s status as a modern, capitalist ‘civilisation’.
The internet is going to evolve beyond physical models of commerce and politics. When we can leap the physical barrier between the human and the computer and jack our minds directly into the web there will be no need for a visual interface - the internet will become a pure data stream. It’s impossible to predict, since it will be something no one has seen before and, existing in our heads and the ether, will have no physical form. Instead, the ‘internet’ will denote the ubiquitous mesh of information signals coating the globe, like a universal consciousness.
As the internet goes through its next evolution we won’t need to travel to the moon. There won’t be anything we can’t experience here.
The analogue backlash
All this progress, all this pixellation. Haven’t we blundered into a new digital age while casting asunder some very lovely things? Neil Cooper forecasts a nostalgic comeback for Airfix modelling, bakelite and Pen Pals.
Once upon a Tomorrow’s World, the gadget ruled the earth, if not the as yet undiscovered Bacofoil universe beyond. Here was a planet mapped out by Etch-A-Sketch and seen through X-Ray specs as a slide projected kaleidoscope. It was a green and Pleasant Valley Sunday land, where sea monkeys swam free in blue waters waded through by former 90 pound weaklings turned Charles Atlas stud-u-like musclemen in six short weeks.
That was then, however, and this is some approximation of sometime soon, a world rewired by information overload, where everything’s a contact-free click away. 2007, however, promises to get back to basics in a year zero return to halcyon days of hands-free home entertainment which doesn’t involve fly-by-night hi-tech jiggery-pokery. If the past, as some quill-bearing scribe once put it, is merely the remembered present, then fully-functional retro-kitsch apparel must surely be the best future yet.
So forget bedroom-bound networking through MySpace and googling through YouTube. We’ll be sending letters to Pen Pals in far away places who’ll then send back Jiffy Bag loads of exotic-looking stamps which take weeks to arrive. iPods too will be past their sell-by date relics, while Walkmans will return, both in CD and cassette tape form. Tape compilations will make a comeback, when DIY obsessed acolytes discover how much more touchy-feely romantic they are than boring old instantly accessible MP3s.
Vinyl too will be all the rage again. The best, most excitingly obscure records will be kept in the very back of the hidden depths of your local indie record emporium like some limited edition Holy Grail. Magazines will be sold on the basis of smell alone, such will be the allure of printer’s ink and photocopy fluid.
Multiple email Spam conspiracies will be consigned to the dustbin of history, as a home-made greeting card craze sweeps the nation. Bloggers will have had their day, particularly those of the drearily self-obsessed variety. We'll consistently not win on the Premium Bonds we were misguidedly gifted with at birth, while all National Lottery ticket losers will be forced to queue at separate tills, only holding each other up instead of everybody else.
When we’re not gathering round the old Joanna instead of the latest X-Box, or going to The Pictures complete with the original Pearl & Dean Presents logo trailing ads for local chicken-in-a-basket dives, we’ll spend all day setting up the board for Mousetrap, then be too tired to play it.
In Cluedo, we’ll suspect Professor Plum, with the candlestick, in the dining room, and have the secret hots for Miss Scarlet. We’ll get triple word scores in Scrabble, put Airfix back in business and be smart enough to realise that Mastermind isn’t nearly as clever as it thinks it is. We’ll build cities out of Lego and Meccano, and singe our hair with chemistry sets during power cuts in the midst of an ongoing array of three-day weeks. We’ll smoke sweet cigarettes and chocolate cigars, collect Bazooka Joe comics and watch Bugs Bunny and Yogi Bear cartoons on Super 8 rather than DVD box sets that go on forever.
Films will take five years to get on terrestrial TV rather than be sold on bootleg the day after they’re released. We’ll get inky fingers off Exchange and Mart, not RSI from E-Bay. We’ll send postal orders and cut out and keep special offer tokens, and everything will take 28 days delivery so anticipation and expectation is rediscovered.
BBC2 will be unashamedly arty, and even the test card will only be on at weekends. Channel 4 will get good again, and show seasons of Godard and Fassbinder films rather than the arguably even more avant-garde reality shows they’ll replace. On Saturdays, everything will stop at four o'clock, when Kendo Nagasaki will dish out moves on Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks that WWE don't even know exist. Football matches beamed from Poland will be viewed through thick layers of snowy static in black and white, and the commentators will talk muffled clichés down a crackly Bakelite phone. Internet porn will be history, as scrunched up pages from the lingerie pages of Littlewoods catalogue will be hidden in hedges and pasted in puddles.
When the best band on the planet finally reforms, 2007 will border the shadow line between nostalgia for an age never known and resistance to the modern world. For those of us already resident in this parallel universe, it will be a beautiful, crazy dream come true.
The real McAvoy
With three films due for release in rapid succession, actor James McAvoy will be hard to avoid in 2007. Kaleem Aftab meets the Scots-born star who’s trying to avoid all those Ewan McGregor comparisons.
There is something odd about calling James McAvoy ‘the face’ of anything. He’s not exactly endowed with traditional movie star looks. His skin tone is pallid. He was born in Glasgow on New Year’s Day in 1979 and looks like he hasn’t sampled a Scottish summer let alone an Indian one. His hair always seems unkempt atop his angular baby-face. It’s a physiognomy that’s unique for a leading man in celluloid land. It’s made it a struggle for journalists desperate to tag him; he’s been labelled everything from a young Hugh Grant to a young Albert Finney.
Yet, in proclaiming McAvoy ‘the face of 2007’ the best comparison that we at The List can find with his rapid rise to fame is with another son of Scotland, Ewan McGregor. A compliment that will be further cemented this year with McAvoy appearing in three of the year’s most anticipated pictures: The Last King of Scotland, Atonement and Becoming Jane.
It’s been a remarkable 12 months that has seen the Scot go from snagging a rising star BAFTA to winning the British Independent Film Awards Best Actor accolade for his turn as Doctor Nicolas Garrigan in The Last King of Scotland. His performance, it’s being whispered, might see him receive the ultimate seal of movie approval - A Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination.
McAvoy doesn’t play Garrigan as the passive Scot depicted in Giles Foden’s novel who lets Idi Amin take control over him. As McAvoy says of his own interpretation, ‘He is the protagonist, but the thing that is different about him is that he is not a very nice person. He is selfish, and arrogant, vain and egotistical, the most important person in his own life is him, and that is fine if you stay in your own country, but when you go to somewhere and you’re important because of where you’re from, you wield a huge power. And when you’re selfish you shouldn’t wield all that power because you can hurt people around you. He certainly does that.’
The performance is all the more remarkable because it’s so different from anything we’ve seen McAvoy do before; whether playing the cucumber-faced faun in The Chronicles of Narnia; the charming car thief in Shameless; or living with cerebral palsy in Inside I’m Dancing. It’s this adaptability and roguish charm that makes easy the comparison with the chameleon-like qualities McGregor showed when he first appeared in Trainspotting, The Pillow Book and Brassed Off.
Yet The Last King of Scotland is only the tip of the iceberg for the 28-year-old. He’s already completed Penelope opposite Cristina Ricci and Reese Witherspoon; he plays Robbie Turner in the adaptation of Ian McEwan’s acclaimed novel Atonement. In the words of an actor that has mastered the art of movie promotion, he says, ‘It’s the best thing I’ve ever worked on . . . Joe Wright’s a genius.’ If the Pride and Prejudice director is even half as good as the actor says, then it’ll be worth lining-up around the block for. Then there’s Becoming Jane, opposite the gorgeous Anne Hathaway, in which he plays a roguish Irishman who breaks Jane Austen’s heart. It sounds like the type of role that sent Gwyneth Paltrow’s career into stellar status.
McAvoy currently resides in London, where he lives with his new wife, Anne-Marie Duff, who played his onscreen love interest in Shameless. Having married in October, the pair only managed to go on honeymoon in December due to his commitments promoting The Last King of Scotland and Starter for Ten.
Living in London, and playing his fair share of Englishmen hasn’t harmed McAvoy’s thick Glaswegian accent one bit. Although he does admit; ‘I don’t know if I’ve found being Scottish a plus because I’ve only played about four Scots in the last seven years. Everyone thinks I’m English anyway.’ The same thing was said of McGregor and, of course, it’s a testimony to his acting chomps that so many people are surprised when he opens his gob.
In lauding McAvoy, we’ve got high expectations that the actor will go from being a British to a global star. The roles he takes this year will be pivotal if he is to truly follow in the footsteps of McGregor and gain international star status. To do so, he would be wise to take a leaf out of the Trainspotting actor’s book and get his foot jammed in the Hollywood door. McGregor did this by taking a one-off role in ER and starring in films opposite established Hollywood A-Listers, even ones who cannot act like Cameron Diaz. He also jumped on the big-budget franchise bandwagon by taking on Alec Guinness’ mantle in Star Wars. The announcement that McAvoy is to appear in Wanted, a Hollywood action film opposite Morgan Freeman, shows that he or his agent is already thinking along these lines. In choosing his next romantic comedy he’s got to be eyeing up an actress with the sex appeal of an Angelina Jolie or Scarlett Johansson as a co-star. The other alternative is to find some more UV rays.
Selected release from Fri 5 Jan.
The wondrously wacky happenings that win win hearts and minds the world over
The Grumbleweeds Forty years since they first turned professional following an appearance on Opportunity Knocks, the musical fivesome are now a comedy/ impersonation duo, and they’re supporting Cannon and Ball as part of the Glasgow Comedy Festival.
AKA Hannibal Lecter, the Early Years - just when you thought they couldn’t squeeze any more material out of everyone’s favourite serial killer, Peter The Girl with a Pearl Earring Webber offers up the early adventures of Lecter as scripted by Thomas Harris himself.
Fidel Castro Prepare yourself for a rollicking romp through the great leader’s thoughts on topics as diverse as the Cuban missile crisis, homosexuals, and Blair and Bush, in My Life.
The Sketches of Frank Gehry Mainstream US filmmaker Sydney The Interpreter Pollack’s curious filmed discussion/documentary with architecture legend Gehry is the best film he has made for years.
Mark E Smith
Not a ‘curveball’ as such, since the Fall lead singer’s Renegade: the Gospel According to Mark E Smith is a guaranteed big seller. But published on the same day, Perverted by Language (21 Jun) is a series of short stories written by the likes of Michel Faber, each inspired by a Fall song. Weird, certainly. Wonderful? Probably.
Film Editor Paul Dale predicts (or at least idly daydreams about) some film fads for 2007
The fad I would like to see take up residence this and every year (which I suppose would make it less of a fad and more of a fixture) is shorter film running times and many fewer films being distributed. We are currently running at a batting average of eight or nine films released every week as an ever greater number of new, amateurish, gold digging distribution companies try to push their slush and filth into cinemas through a haze of falling attendances, which has got to be wrong by anyone’s calculation.
The fad that is most likely to begin to take hold in 2007 is the long, caterwauling and hopefully very painful death of the overpaid Hollywood movie star. Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto and Zack Dawn of the Dead Snyder’s ‘digital backlot’-tastic Spartan epic 300 will prove, with their casts of gifted amateurs and willing second string actors, the fallacy of the overpaid star system. God willing, no longer will we need to stare at the barren decrepit canons of Matthew McConnaughey, Angelina Jolie, Julia Roberts and Jude Law.
‘So now that I’ve conquered TV/music/fashion, what I really want to do is . . .’ Brian Donaldson spots some cultural cross-fertilisation.
‘Write of that which you know’ is a motto believed to be branded upon some delicate parts of authors’ bodies. Stepping outside their field of experience is a cardinal creative sin and one which can lead to ostracisation. Yet, across the creative arts there is a history of people taking a dip in other folks’ waters. How many times have we groaned as yet another stand-up comedian writes a ‘hilarious debut novel’?
Thankfully, in 2007 there will be some intriguing instances of gatecrashing amid the painful genre invasions. Not content with providing the story and screenplay to Robert Altman’s final directorial hurrah, Garrison Keillor also gets a starring role as, mysteriously, GK. Previously, the writer and broadcaster has rented out his voice to the likes of Redux Robin Hood but A Prairie Home Companion is based on his own radio variety show which began back in 1974. David Thewlis has been threatening to write a book for many years now, and finally it arrives in the shape of The Late Hector Kipling, a tale of jealousy and naked ambition in modern British art. He will be sharing shelf-space alongside, so far, a trio of comedians with Rhona Cameron and Julian Clary scribbling novels while this year’s ‘most unlikely kids author’ prize goes to Mackenzie Crook with a ‘lighthearted fantasy’ provisionally titled A Fairy Tale.
His buddy Ricky Gervais will have his Flaminals brought to TV later this year but the small screen is being inundated by even weirder cross-pollinations. In 2006, David Walliams waded into other people’s worlds by swimming the English Channel but this year he’s on scarier territory, acting in Stephen Poliakoff’s latest ancestral oddity for the BBC. In Capturing Mary, Walliams plays the ‘subtly evil Greville’ who haunts the memory of Dame Maggie Smith.
Neneh Cherry in a soul food cookery show called Dishing It Up anyone? Christ on a boil-in-the-bag!! She’s joined in this venture by DJ Andrea Oliver (no relation to Blair’s favourite drooling boy) and could be either majestic or tragic. And Dr Tanya Byron, best known for her valiant attempts to tame the nation’s less soothed kids in The House of Tiny Tearaways, has now been assigned to steering the wayward wag Jennifer Saunders back on track by co-writing the Trisha-like spoof, The Vivienne Vyle Show.
But perhaps the most unlikely trip into the unknown comes from Cannon and Ball. Yes, they are doing a night at the Glasgow International Comedy Festival.
The new black
Five fashion trends to watch out for in the pages of Heat (and on Sauchiehall Street)
Not as easy to disguise a surprise pregnancy behind as last season’s tunic dresses. Artful bagginess is migrating south and coming to a set of hips near you in the shape of the tulip skirt.
Noted proponents: Marie Antoinette, Victoria Plum.
Because clean-shaven is a bit boyband. And Daniel Craig, the epitome of masculine manful manliness, is working it.
Noted proponents: Russell Brand, Henry Northmore.
Milan banning skinny models on the catwalk, clothes that make your arse look big (see tulip skirt, above) and Nicole Richie finally realising that she needs food to survive. 2007 will be all about the love handles.
Noted proponents: Mama Cass, Luciano Pavarotti.
Men in makeup
My Chemical Romance top the charts and suddenly men everywhere are nicking their mum’s kohl and getting in touch with their inner emo kid.
Noted proponents: Russell Brand (again), Gerard Way.
There’s a theory going round the List offices that Litvinenko was poisoned by the CIA to reignite the Cold War. If we’re right, expect Stalinist badges to come back in as this year’s protest-wear of choice. Noted proponents: Jane Fonda circa 1970. (Kirstin Innes)
Part of the Union
Three hundred years ago Scotland and England got it together with the Act of Union and Britain was created. There are some who regret that bonding ever took place and are eager now to tear us apart. But Robin Hodge sees much to celebrate.
At heart, it’s a question of emotional choices. Do you prefer to share life with others or turn your back on your neighbour? Do you opt for co-operation or confrontation? Do you believe in society or fragmentation?
We live together on this island and over the past three centuries, we have worked out ways of supporting one another through good times and bad. We’ve built a sense of community that embraces diversity and together we’ve flourished - culturally, intellectually, economically and internationally. There is no good reason to break it all up.
From a cultural and intellectual perspective, it is well known that the remarkable flowering of the Scottish Enlightenment came to life in the 18th century following on from the Act of Union. Philosophers, authors, artists, publishers, scientists and inventors all benefited from the removal of old barriers and the wider reach of their ideas and creations. The legacy of Hume, Burns, Scott, Adam, Murray, Black and Watt (to name but a few) paved the way for others to follow through the 19th and 20th centuries with medical breakthroughs, technical discoveries, engineering triumphs and literary successes. These achievements were accompanied by expansion of our universities and the creation of many institutions which we now take for granted - from the BBC founded by John Reith in the 1920s to the initiative of the British Council in 1947 which led to Edinburgh becoming the home of the biggest arts festival in the world.
Today it is clear that far from being stifled by 300 years of union, Scottish art and culture continue to thrive - drawing on and contributing to the life of Britain and the wider world. Writers such as Irvine Welsh, Ian Rankin, Don Paterson and JK Rowling owe their success to London based publishers; many of our leading contemporary artists are represented by London galleries, and being part of UK wide networks, helps make it possible for musicians, filmmakers, comedians, architects, broadcasters and many others to develop their careers in Scotland.
In terms of politics, it is worth reflecting just what practical arrangements would need to be put in place if Britain was broken up. Some new form of bilateral cross border co-operation would have to be quickly established between independent administrations in Holyrood and Westminster. For matters ranging from transport to trade, it would be impractical to insist on conducting all inter-governmental business through Brussels. But creating new institutions which are mutually beneficial and sustainable is no easy task, as we can see from the current struggles at the EU. The Act of Union has been remarkably successful for 300 years and attempts to construct a new framework from scratch are unlikely to come up with anything better.
On environmental issues, it is clear that we are all becoming more and more interdependent. The dangers of climate change and pollution pose global challenges that do not stop at man-made political borders. The urgent task of finding solutions to these problems needs to bring countries closer together and it is strange the Scottish Green Party has been advocating independence rather than seizing the chance to campaign locally, nationally across the UK and globally.
The economic arguments over the financial pros and cons of independence seem to come down to disputes over the level of North Sea oil reserves. Even those who are convinced there is sufficient wealth there to balance the books, agree the money would not last long. But any party that bases its appeal on grabbing a bigger share of short term mineral exploitation rights, is more of a reversion to base instincts of selfish greed than the basis for an inspiring political ideology.
Let us hope that this year’s elections in May will not plunge us into long and tortuous constitutional squabbles when there are so many more important issues to address and so much about being together to celebrate.
The Scottish Parliament election (the third since devolution in 1999) takes place on Thu 3 May.
How do the alternatives shape up when it comes to culture? Nick Mitchell asks each of the major parties to state their case
So it’s finally here. Labour’s Draft Culture Bill. Last year, culture minister Patricia Ferguson pledged a £20 million annual increase in spending and now she’s followed it up with a Bill whose mainstay is the formation of Creative Scotland, a merger of the Scottish Arts Council and Scottish Screen.
But what are the alternative views?
Scottish Lib Dems
‘We believe artists must have the freedom to create, not just teach others, and that the arts must be free from excessive Government interference.’ Whether the Lib Dems perceive Labour’s Bill as ‘excessive Government interference’ isn’t clear.
Although they too would continue with the Creative Scotland merger, the SNP is ‘instinctively opposed’ to government interference in the arts. The SNP wants to see a ‘much more dynamic’ organisation.
Annabel Goldie’s party is staying loyal to Tory values. As well as an emphasis on our cultural ‘heritage, traditions and history’, there is support for Creative Scotland (which ‘shows much promise’) along with a desire to ‘eliminate bureaucracy’ and to secure greater private sector funding.
Scottish Socialist Party
Promises a doubling of the arts budget, the abandonment of Creative Scotland and the scrapping of the Scottish Arts Council. The SSP would increase money for Scottish Opera: ‘The division between so called High Culture and Low Culture is a false one - everyone should have access to all art forms.’
Whoever wins the 2007 election, the Creative Scotland proposals look pretty secure, with qualified support promised by all mainstream parties.
Here at Last
Maybe all good things do come to those who wait, but sometimes you just want that waiting to be over, no matter the final result. 2007 is the year when some high-profile breath-holding is concluded. If last year heralded the almighty literary resurrection of Thomas Pynchon, this year witnesses the comeback of Norman Mailer. In mid-February he brings us The Castle in the Forest, his first novel since 1991 and focuses on Hitler’s youth. For the third year in a row we are proud to present the largely unsubstantiated rumour of Blackadder’s cunning return. Many will shudder at the memory of 1989’s all-too live broadcast of The Brit Awards with Sam Fox and Mick Fleetwood crumbling before our very eyes but Valentine’s Day is the moment when romantic fop Russell Brand aims to avoid career humiliation in that show’s sequel. Other returning names include Tiswas, Genesis (the band not the book) and Richard Kelly who finally follows up Donnie Darko with the sci-fi musical comedy Southland Tales. (Brian Donaldson)
How is the cinema world trying to arrest declining audiences? By recycling old ideas, of course.
There are 24 sequels slated for release in 2007. Bad news for cinema-goers, because sequels suffer from the law of diminishing returns.
The third Pirates of the Caribbean promises to induce despondency in line with its subtitle: At World’s End. But at least the first film was good. What are we to expect of Angels and Demons, prequel to the excruciating Da Vinci Code? And do we really need Fantastic Four 2, Goal 2, National Treasure 2, The Hills Have Eyes 2, Resident Evil 3, Die Hard 4, Rambo IV and - no! - Halloween 9?
Need has nothing to do with it. If a movie makes money, it’s guaranteed a sequel (that might as well be a remake). Sequels are usually bigger but not better. Thus, Spider Man 3 boasts three super-villains to the other films’ single foes.
Are sequels any good? Occasionally. Against the odds Rocky Balboa is generating good word-of-mouth.
Nevertheless, don’t also look out for: Hannibal Rising, Shrek the Third, Ocean’s Thirteen, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Asterix and the Vikings, The Bourne Ultimatum etc etc ad nauseam. (Miles Fielder)
Best Film Praire Home Companion or The Departed: ‘the heavyweight battle of the century’. The late great Robert Altman with his simple Garrison Keillor adaptation or Martin Scorsese with his solid interpretation of Hong Kong policier Infernal Affairs. Both deserve the gong for time served down the celluloid mine.
Best Director Paul Greengrass for United 93 or Stephen Frears for The Queen. In the words of overweight Lancastrian Colin Welland, ‘The Brits are coming!’
Best Actor Leonardo Di Caprio in The Departed. He’s the best thing in the film and he has finally come of age as an adult star. Or Matt Damon in The Good Shepherd. Damon makes a great fist of playing a CIA man who on paper never existed in De Niro’s second film as director.
Best Actress Kate Winslet in Little Children or Naomi Watts in The Painted Veil. Two hot roles for two brilliant actresses.
Best Documentary Deborah Scranton’s The War Tapes.
Best Foreign Film Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Climates. A masterpiece.
Best Supporting Actress Jennifer Connelly in Little Children.
Best Supporting Actor Alan Arkin in Little Miss Sunshine (we hope, you dirty old man). (Paul Dale)
Mind the generation gap
Scotland's music festivals are no longer the preserve of the young, writes Doug Johnstone
Rock music was supposed to be the sole preserve of the young, but that’s simply not the case any more. As rock has grown up, so have the artists and the people who listen to it. With folks aged six to 60 all as likely to have The Who alongside The View on their iPods, it seems there’s no such thing as a musical generation gap anymore.
Nowhere is this more evident than on the festival circuit, where the idea of catering for a much wider age range is spreading like wildfire. Over the last few years a whole host of smaller, boutique festivals have sprung up in Scotland. Already we have the Isle of Skye festival, Belladrum in the Highlands, Wickerman in Dumfries and Galloway and the Fence Homegame in Fife, all of which promote themselves on the fact that they deliver entertainment for a much more diverse range of punter than, say, T in the Park has ever tried to.
2007 sees the big gun promoters moving into the area, a sure sign that there’s good money to be made from this widening demographic in the music market. DF Concerts, the folks that do T in the Park, have announced Connect, a three-day shebang at the start of September in the grounds of Inverary Castle, by Loch Fyne. The line-up isn’t announced till March, but the organisers are making big noises about it being a more mature and eclectic blend of acts and activities than at bigger festivals.
Taking things a stage further is The Outsider festival at Rothiemurchus this summer. Organised by Pete Irvine and his company Unique Events, The Outsider taps into the eco-conscious trends of recent years to bring an eco-friendly event aimed at combining more refined music and other arts activities with a whole host of outdoor pursuits. As well as big headlining bands there will be comedy and cabaret, film and organic food events, a full children’s programme as well as everything from mountain biking to owl-watching.
They’ve taken a while to catch up with the populace, but it’s intriguing the way music festivals seem to now be reflecting the public’s need for something more than just bands playing in a field to a bunch of teens and twentysomethings. In an age of ever-increasing diversity and people-power within the music business, who knows where this could end up? For the moment, at least, it’s an exciting time to be a music fan.
The hot Scots bands
Five whose sounds will be heard from the Barras all the way to Beijing, Brisbane and, well, Berwick.
The Royal We
Looking and sounding like some kind of trans Atlantic glam pop wet dream, The Royal We require intense self pinching just to be believed. A sustained period of activity throughout 2007 could - fuck it - will see them skyrocket.
Because sometimes one drummer just isn’t enough, The Danananas pack an extra. Their coarse, guttural, wehateyourears post-rock hardcore rockness (or fight pop, as they call it) can only get louder in 2007.
The Low Miffs
The last time a literate, smartly dressed, Roxy Music-alike pomp punk four piece came out of Glasgow, the world went half mad for them. The Low Miffs might not have quite the same effect, but they are a very good band.
Futuristic Retro Champions
Little known Edinburgh newies this lot, but be damned sure they’ll turn many a head in the following 12 months with their funtime Casio keyboard propelled electro pop.
Despite sounding not unlike a headache, Damn Shames turbo disco guitar scratchings could well tear post-post-punk a much-needed new arsehole in the year to come. It’ll hurt, but in a good way. (Malcolm Jack)
One to watch
Katrina Brown is going back to her roots. The Glasgow-born leading light of Scotland’s visual art community has spent the past nine years working as the inaugural Curator and Deputy Director of the highly successful Dundee Contemporary Arts, during which time she commissioned new work from international artists such as Olafur Eliasson, Marine Hugonnier and Thomas Demand.
Brown was recently appointed Director of The Common Guild, a new Glasgow-based visual arts organisation. ‘The idea is to create a dynamic force for programming of contemporary art in Scotland,’ she says. ‘I’ll be based in Glasgow, but not all of our work will be focused on the city. For instance, we’re working on the first visual arts project in almost 20 years for the 2007 Edinburgh International Festival, which is a fascinating prospect.’
Unlike DCA, initially The Common Guild won’t have its own space; instead Brown will commission artists to work within existing galleries as well as hidden spaces throughout Glasgow and beyond.
Though a native of the city, Brown is fully aware that Glasgow’s contemporary art scene has evolved in the 12 years since she last worked there. ‘I’m conscious of trying not to fall into my old relationships with the city,’ she says. ‘I’m also very aware that my perception of Glasgow will change through my relationships with the artists I commission.’
An announcement about The Common Guild’s first commissions is expected early in 2007.
Dates for your diary
Idlewild, Aberfeldy, Isobel Campbell, Clannad and Crash My Model Car are among a line-up that’s as wide-ranging as this annual festival has seen in many a year, thanks to the arrival of new artistic director Donald Shaw from Capercaillie. Various venues, 17 Jan-4 Feb
Sixth and final film in the Rocky series, in which a 60-something Sly Stallone plays out his final tribute to the international boxing legend. General release, 19 Jan
Daniel Kitson: C90
After a much-lauded premiere at last year’s Fringe, Kitson brings back his play which takes a funny, nostalgic look back at one man’s life. Arches, Glasgow. 23-28 Jan
All My Sons
A timely re-staging of the play that gave Arthur Miller his first critical success in 1947, All My Sons recounts the tragic story of a father and his son who went to war and didn’t come back. Powerfully relevant. Lyceum, Edinburgh
Much maligned stadium indie band returns to these shores, with lead singer Brandon Flowers now aiming for a Springsteen and U2 sound, rather than the Robert Smith overtones of the band’s first album. The result is a sell-out show. SECC, Glasgow, 22 Feb
Aye Write! Bank of Scotland Book Festival
More than 100 authors descend on the Mitchell Library for a celebration of Glaswegian, Scottish and international writing. Guests include Lynne Truss, John Banville and George Monbiot. Glasgow 16-25 Feb
Thanks to the One Book, One Edinburgh project, Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel is reissued in five different editions, including one in graphic novel form with illustrations by comic book giants Cam Kennedy and Alan Grant. If you’re quick, you can grab a free copy from libraries around Edinburgh. 1 Feb
Scotland’s international festival of live arts treads the line somewhere between theatre, performance art and installation. What binds it all together is imagination. Prepare to have yours stretched. 7 Feb-10 Mar
Bogart meets Bergman in the ultimate classic movie. Now it’s getting a re-release in a shiny new print, just in time for the Valentine’s Day schmoozers. 14 Feb
Glasgow Film Festival
It’s the third year for the fledgling festival, with new curatorial input from former List film editor Allan Hunter. Watch out for the John Wayne retrospective, plus several interesting new Scottish movies. 15-25 Feb
Magners Glasgow International Comedy Festival
Russell Brand has been the most talked-about comedian for a generation, and you can see his excellent stand up show at this increasingly important comedy fest. Or if mouthy lothario Goths aren’t your bag, then how about Joan Rivers, or Cannon and Ball? 8-24 Mar
Aberdeen Jazz Festival
The rapidly growing jazz fest reaches its fourth year with visits from local heroes such as Tommy Smith and his band, as well as international guests including vibraphonist Joe Locke from the USA. 7-11 Mar
Tramway welcomes Kate Dickie, star of Red Road, to play the lead role in this disturbing account of the Belgian parents who in 1999 took their children to hotel room and murdered them. This NTS co-production uses statements, interviews and footage from the trial in a dramatised reconstruction. Tramway, Glasgow, 21-31 Mar
Was the singer of ‘Jolene’ ever uncool? Whatever, the dame of country and western is certainly cool again - especially following her recent foray into her bluegrass roots. And of course her other roots remain as blonde as ever. Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow, 23 Mar
Glasgow’s Fashion Week
Set to run over three days in March, Glasgow’s Fashion Work features shows by infamous as well as up-and-coming designers. You, lucky fashion fans, can be privvy to all the insider news and gossip, as George Square plays host to a large screen showing backstage preparations. www.gfashionweek.com. George Square, 28-31 Mar.
My Chemical Romance
In Kerrang magazine’s 2006 reader poll, the East Coast emo band won every single category that they could possibly be eligible for. Lead singer Gerard Way even came fourth in the Sexiest Female category. D’oh. Must be all that make up. 27 Mar
As part of Goma’s ‘Blind Faith’ season, which focuses in particular on sectarianism in Scotland, the acclaimed Glasgow artist Roddy Buchanan gets a major solo show in which he intends to hold a mirror up to Scottish society. Goma, Glasgow, 5 Apr-21 Oct
Last year’s Triptych was one of the best yet for the intelligent music festival, and the line-up for 2007 is already being leaked. Ute Lemper’s name is already on the list. Various venues, dates tbc
Arches Theatre Festival
More Arches experimentalism including a scratch workshop from the acclaimed US Fringe-beaters the T.E.A.M and a directorial debut for actor/singer Cora Bisset, who will be writing and overseeing a play about Isabel Allende.
Funny to think that it’s only six months since the Paisley lad knocked ‘em dead at T in the Park; now he’s become the first ever artist to play four consecutive nights at Glasgow’s Carling Academy. 30 Apr-3 May
Six Cities Design Festival
Massive design initiative which includes a vast array of other events stressing the importance of design in our lives. 17 May-3 Jun
Angels In America
The multi-award winning play on the subject of AIDS and capitalism, in a revival of the 1980s classic. Citizen’s Theatre, 1-14 May
He’s got nearly half a million ‘friends’ on his MySpace site, and he’s spending 2007 touring the world. SECC, Glasgow, 3-5 May
Word has featured the likes of Seamus Heaney and Louis de Bernières in the past. Expect more big names this year. University of Aberdeen, 11-13 May
This Glasgow event has become a key date on the UK clubbing scene. It’s guaranteed to be one hell of a party. Braehead Arena, 2 Jun
West End Festival
Theatre, music, dance and street carnivals are part of this fortnight that also includes Scotland’s Mardi Gras. Glasgow, 8-24 Jun
The Outsider Festival
A highlight of Highland 2007, this promises a mix of great music and fun events for the family. Rothiemurchus, 22-24 Jun
Ambitious multimedia art/film/opera work produced on Scotland’s remotest island. St Kilda, 22-23 Jun
Die Hard 4
Fourth outing for Bruce Willis’ John McClane, this time to fight against an internet-based terrorist group who’s trying to shut down the US of A. Geez. 6 Jul
T in the Park
How will Britain’s favourite music festival coexist with its new sister, Connect? Whatever the line up, it’ll sell out in a few hours. Balado, 7-8 July
A relaxed and eclectic festival that spreads everything from world music to post-punk, over nine stages. Dundrennan, 20-21 July
In with the new, with fresh bosses at the International Festival and the Film Festival. The Fringe just keeps on growing, of course.
Connect Music Festival
This three-day affair promises a relaxed, more cultural vibe by the banks of Loch Fyne. Inveraray Castle, 31 Aug-2 Sep
Tartan Heart Festival
With bands for the grown ups, and yoga for the kids, Belladrum provides the blueprint for modern festivals. 10-11 Aug
After last year’s triumph, this chilled out Glasgow festival returns to celebrate the last gasp
of summer. Last year, Antony and the Johnsons headlined. 1–2 Sep
Doors Open Day
A chance to get nosey and peek inside some of the great buildings in Scotland that are normally closed to the public. Each weekend in Sep
Merchant City Festival
A vibrant arts festival that takes place in over 70 venues across the Merchant City area throughout the month. Glasgow, 1-30 Sep
Experimental theatre at Scotland’s most ambitious arts venue. Each year it seems to get better. Arches, Glasgow
Sean’s mate Murray Grigor tells the story of Scotland’s superstar in this major biography. The title is asking for trouble from satirists . . .
Many facets of LGBT culture are celebrated at this ever-growing festival that pokes its nose into every art form. Various venues, throughout Oct and Nov
Samhuinn Fire Festival 2006
More fire-raising frolicks with the Beltane Fire Society. Expect fun, dance and plenty of sparks. The Mound, Edinburgh, 31 Oct
Scottish BAFTA Awards
The highlight of the Scottish film industry’s year heads for Inverness. No doubt Scottish films like Hallam Foe will be among the winners.
Inverness Film Fest
Highland 2007 reaches a climax. Watch out for the special season of short films from the Highlands. Eden Court, Inverness, 7-11 Nov
BBC Good Food Show
The hit foodie exhibition heads to Scotland for the first time. Expect a strong ‘local produce’ theme. SECC, Glasgow, 2-4 Nov
Here we go again with another Irn Bru-fuelled night featuring a hot new local band and some camp legends of pop. Probably.
The world’s most successful New Year event, thanks to Unique Events. Will they keep the contract for 2007? Heaven help Edinburgh if they don’t.