Live review: Concert to Save the Sighthill Stone Circle at Platform, 27/7/13

sighthill-0341Six pm, Saturday night; as heavens opened over Glasgow’s east-end, temperatures soar inside Platform and the entirely inimitable, reliably provocative Aidan Moffat takes to the stage to unleash his own thunder, thus setting a tone for the remainder of the night – one of brilliance.

The gig, pulled together, curated and promoted by Stuart Braithwaite of post-rock heavyweights Mogwai (ably assisted by Alun Woodward and myself), is filled with promise.

Braithwaite, fighting a cause close to his heart – his late father John having been a co-creator of the Sighthill Stone Circle – plucked together a mouth-watering array of talent keen to support the cause; a group with many a shared background and ideology.

On the night, every one of them is on sparkling form.

Sighthill Park plays host to the first astronomically aligned stone circle to have been built in the UK for over 3500 years.

An anomaly treasured by many within the city, it was designed by Duncan Lunan who has spearheaded a campaign to provide the circle with a sustainable future since it was first threatened by regeneration proposals in 2012.

While originally the focus for a potential athlete’s village within Glasgow’s unsuccessful bid to host the 2018 Youth Olympics, a prioritised programme of housing-led regeneration means the threat to the standing stones remains live.

While in no way opposed to the regeneration of Sighthill, the campaign has sought recognition of the circle’s significance to many, its importance as a local asset and its inclusion in future plans.

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The campaign has fired the imagination of many within the creative community and remained ever-present as various artists take to the stages of the packed main auditorium or upstairs studio space.

The venue itself contributes magnificently, an increasingly popular contributor to Glasgow’s gig scene, offering up great sound and a bustling atmosphere.

First up, Moffat’s delicate balance of lyrical majesty and piercing obscenity sets sail to the night.

Winding his way through tales of forlorn love and sex and bitter sentimentality, towards a new composition – a contemporary drinking song that takes a journey around Glasgow’s drinking dens with varying success – Mr Moffat brings a hint of humour to the party that hangs around all night long.

Next up, Remember Remember splice together an impressive mix of guitar loops and experimental beats that introduce the audience to the Studio stage before the legendary Eugene Kelly takes to the main auditorium, the eager crowd quickly getting the hang of swaying back and forth between rooms.

Delivering an impeccable one-man set drawn from solo recordings and Vaselines classics, Kelly is reminded of previous attempts to win over Mogwai’s own audience.

This time round, he has no problem wooing the crowd!

Emma Pollock unleashes new material, her voice soaring above the studio into spaces beyond, before performing tracks from The Law of Large Numbers broken back to string accompaniment from the Cairn Chorus and stunning vocal.

Next up, Stuart Braithwaite making his own musical contribution and one that, for many revellers is the highlight of the evening.

His appearance focuses, intense, crowned by halo of light, Braithwaite’s set is blues ridden and precise, haunting guitar and seldom-heard voice forming the hidden link between Mogwai and the Deep South.

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As the night darkens and battering rain persists upon the roof of Platform, recent Scottish Album of the Year winner, RM Hubbert takes to the stage, reminding us exactly how deserving he is of such an accolade.

His set bookended by duets with album collaborators, Emma Pollock (‘Half Light’) and Aidan Moffat (‘Car Song’), in between Hubby shares goose-bump inducing guitar, along with his views on everything from politics, to religion to dog ownership and some highly dubious girl-pop and whets the appetite with tracks from his new record, Breaks and Bones, slated for September release.

Upping the intensity one final notch, the night is closed out by “very special guests”, The Twilight Sad delivering a stripped-back set.

In the case of this band, “stripped back” they may be in terms of personnel, but by no means in terms of sound, force, darkness and passion.

Poised intently above his mic, James Graham holds the audience captive and brings the evening to a fitting end.

Cities thrive on all things diverse, unique, quirky and peculiar.

This is particularly true of Glasgow and it is true of the musicians that gather together at Platform tonight.

It is also true of the Stone Circle in Sighthill Park, the rejuvenation of this part of the city is long overdue, but the very presence of the Stone Circle encapsulates much of Glasgow’s spirit and individuality.

The ever fascinating Hidden Glasgow – surely worth the fight.

Words: Mike Staples
Photos: Nikki Coles

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