Be Charlotte – Damn Good Vibes @The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen, 19/02/17

Low-fi pic of Be Charlotte Aberdeen 19/02/17

What could be better than going to see a live act at the Lemon Tree in Aberdeen on a Sunday night?  Going to see three live acts of course which is what the crowd at last nights Be Charlotte gig in Aberdeen  were served up.

Hugh Kelly kicked things off. His low key entrance, a short shuffle from the bar area to the stage, was followed by a well received six song set. Accompanied only by his own guitar playing, his big bluesy voice would more than fill much larger rooms.  The good natured heckling between songs from his supporters only added to the warm vibe he created.  His stripped down version of last single, The Double, was one of the highlights of the entire evening.

Next up was local band The Capollos. Their enthusiastic guitar driven indie-rock exhibited a fine ear for melody.  With some more than decent riffs being thrown out  this band has a firm foundation to build on for the future with the pick of the bunch from last nights set being recent single, Eyes on You.

Be Charlotte waste no time in getting down to business.  Frequently referred to as Charlotte Brimner’s alter ego it’s worth noting that this is a bona-fide three piece band. The guiding light is of course the front woman and from first to last her impressive stage presence has the audience watching her every move. Her sharp intelligent lyrics are delivered in an impressive variety of vocal styles as she takes the audience on a sonic journey that frequently veers off on to unexpected detours along paths less ambitious artists would simply by-pass. With tunes such as Discover, Machines that Breathe and People there is absolutely no filler here, the short sweet set flowing steadily from start to finish. The unaccompanied vocal at the end of Drawing Windows delivered a genuinely spine tingling moment.   My advice would be to catch Be Charlotte at a smaller venue while you still can, based on this performance bigger stages surely lie ahead.

You can get more info about Be Charlotte from here.

Want to know more about Hugh Kelly?  Click here.

More details for The Capollos?  Click here.


Spinning Coin – Raining on Hope Street, an early contender for single of the year?

Spinning Coin, a four piece band from Glasgow, released their eponymous EP on FuzzKill records back in 2015. Five tracks of melodic indie pop, it was a more than encouraging debut. Last year’s offering, Albany, released on the Pastels’ Geographic label was further proof that this was going to be a band worth listening to.

Their latest single, Raining on Hope Street may well be the most glorious slice of indie pop you will hear all year. Blending both strength and vulnerability together comfortably in just over two minutes is no mean feat yet Spinning Coin manage it with a subtleness of touch that makes it look easy. It’s a track that not only hooks you in from the intro but also rewards repeat listening as further layers reveal themselves. The vocals here are delicious, the guitars constantly surprising. The synergy present lifts everything to another level.

As so many of us feel the need to take shelter from an increasingly right wing political shit storm any message of hope is welcome. Listening to Raining on Hope Street is like getting a reassuring arm around the shoulder. Really, what more could you ask for?

Raining on Hope Street is available digitally now, physical copies will be available from the 24th of March, pre-order it HERE.

The Battle of Harlaw

The Harlaw Monument with Bennachie in the background.

Just outside the North East town of Inverurie stands an impressive stone monument, erected to commemorate a famous clash between an army led by Donald, Lord of the Isles on one side and the Earl of Mar on the other. Fought on the 24th of July 1411 the battle of Harlaw was one of the bloodiest ever fought in Scotland. By the end of that brutal day over 1500 men lay dead with many more injured and maimed

Crest of Clan Donald on Battle of Harlaw Monument

The battle was triggered by a feudal dispute over the Earldom of Ross. Scotland’s seventeen year old King, James 1st, had been a prisoner of the English since 1406. His uncle, Robert Stewart, the Earl of Albany, had assumed control. Eager to increase his own power base in the monarch’s absence he had set his sights on moving his immediate influence west, to the Earldom of Ross. His Granddaughter Euphemia, still a child, had gained the Earldom on the death of her father Alexander Leslie, in 1402. Albany made Euphemia his ward eventually declaring himself Lord of the Ward of Ross. The Lord of the Isles had a stronger claim to the Earldom as his wife was Euphemia’s Aunt so faced with Albany’s actions he decided to grab the Earldom for himself by force.

After taking Dingwall and Inverness Donald had moved East with his army in order to secure the various Banffshire and Aberdeenshire estates associated with the Earldom of Ross. Accounts from the time suggest his eventual aim was to attack and occupy Aberdeen before heading South towards Tayside in order gain control of as much territory as possible. The task of stopping him was given to Albany’s nephew, The Earl of Mar.

Donald’s army was said to have been nearly 10000 men strong. That number has probably been exaggerated as the years have gone by and the stories were retold but there is no doubt that it vastly outnumbered Mar’s force. Made up of various members of the nobility from Aberdeenshire and Tayside as well as the Lord Provost of Aberdeen and the town’s Burgesses it is thought that he brought about 1600 troops to the field.

Crest of the Earl of Mar

Most of what actually happened that day, including who the eventual victor was, is lost in the mists of time. What we do know is that it was a savage and brutal encounter, even by the standards of the day. The battle was fought on foot, the soldiers on each side using spears, swords, axes and hammers to stab, slash gouge and smash their opposite numbers in to oblivion. As night fell at the end of an exhausting and bloodthirsty day both sides withdrew to their own lines to rest. When dawn broke the next day it was to reveal that Donald had totally withdrawn and begun the journey back to his western homeland.

The Earl of Mar could have claimed victory given that his main aim of protecting Aberdeen from attack had been achieved. However the high percentage of Mar’s men who died would suggest that Donald was the victor so why he decided to withdraw rather than continue pressing the advantage of superior numbers is unclear. It may have been that he thought he had lost the battle himself given the large number of casualties his own army suffered as well as the loss of his second in command, Hector Maclean of Duart.

Many local high ranking family members were slain including the Lord Provost of Aberdeen, Robert Davidson. The tombstone of one of the knights who died that day, Gilbert De Greenlaw, can be seen at Kinkell Church near Inverurie. The stone had been ‘recycled’ for use at a later date by one of the local landowners before being rediscovered. Now standing upright inside the walls of the ancient church it is unusual in that it has engraving on both sides.

Tombstone of Gilbert De Greenlaw

At the nearby Chapel of Garioch can be found Leslie’s Cross.  Unveiled in 2011 as part of the ceremonies to mark the four hundredth anniversary of the battle,  it replaced the original,  now long lost,  which had stood on the battlefield. Sir Andrew Leslie had fought alongside the Earl of Mar and was to see six of his sons slaughtered on that bloody day. There may be little real evidence remaining of the battle itself but the devastating impact it had on so many North East people explains why this battle in particular has lived on so long in local folk memory.

Leslie’s Cross at the Chapel of Garioch

As for the cause of so much bloodshed,  the Earldom of Ross, it passed in to the control of Albany in 1415 before returning to the Lord of the Isles around 20 years later.