Archive for the ‘music’ Category

Orchestral Verse

September 17, 2007

We were, Kit Fraser assured us, Inverness’s cultural elite. I immediately felt out of place. Filling Hootananny’s bar on a Sunday evening at £5 a ticket was “Orchestral Verse”. Before us on the stage were four people: Robert Fields at the piano, Amy Fields on violin, Hamish MacDonald joining Kit Fraser on the armed only with folders. There was a screen displaying the texts. Kit explained the format: no ordinary poetry reading, the musicians would play atmospheric music while poems were projected onto the screen, then the readers would read the poems to us. Thus we’d soak the poems in, then better enjoy the readings.

The poems selected were from the Bloodaxe anthology, Staying Alive, a collection of life-affirming poems. The music certainly delivered from the opening bars of Beethoven’s Violin Sonata No. 1 which matched well with the first theme of Birth. The second section of poems on Life was also well served by Manuel de Falla’s Popular Spanish Songs, itself possibly the musical highlight of the evening. While Constandinidis’ Greek Dances and Bloch’s Baal Shem maintained the high standard of music and performance, they did not enhance the poems chosen in the later themes, Death and Love. As a musical performance, though, the evening provided excellent entertainment, bravo Rob and Amy Fields.

The readers gave dramatic readings of the poems at the end of each musical piece, concluding three themes, Birth, Life and Death. This put them at something of a disadvantage in capturing the audience which had just read the poems from the screen moments before. It was difficult to get into the drama of it having just been distanced by the music. In the final section on Love, the order was reversed and readers preceded music. Audience reaction was much more natural to the readers suggesting this might be one way to evolve such a performance.

It was easier to forget themes and appreciate each poem itself. Categorising Adrian Mitchell’s, A Puppy Called Puberty in the Birth section just seemed odd, but Kit Fraser’s reading, with Benny Hill eyebrow-wiggle, worked well as opening reading. Generally, less well-known poems were best received, Holub’s Brief Reflection on Accuracy and Pound’s And the Days Are Not Full Enough prompting a taste for re-reading. It was a pity that there was no female voice for Jenny Joseph’s Warning, but that poem has been done to death. Death’s Secret by Gosta Ågren would suggest that last comment is immaterial and is a poem rewarding investigation. There was unexpected toughness about poems in the Love section, but they worked better for that, Elma Mitchell’s Thoughts After Ruskin and Robert Hayden’s Those Winter Sundays telling it like it is.

The poetry reading of the evening as performance in itself was Hamish MacDonald’s rendition of Morgan’s The Loch Ness Monster’s Song, which maintained the humour of the piece while providing a wee edge.

An interesting evening in a good venue with hospitable staff, enjoyed by a large audience. Definitely a format to develop.

Douche de Bière aux Ironworks

July 3, 2007

J’ai arrêté de blogger depuis un moment suite à une maladie. La semaine passé je me suis rendu compte que c’était une syptome de la maladie donc j’ai décidé de me relancer!

Même malade je suis arrivé à observer la culture des Highlands en 2007, jusqu’ici j’ai pas pris le temps de les écrire. Commençons par Les Ironworks, salle de concert de taille moyenne ouverte à Inverness 2006.
D’abord, on l’a attendu depuis bien et on on a beaucoup besoin. La programmation jusqu’ici a été vive et variée, et on l’a vu s’améliorer dernièrement à cause des festivals partout dans les Highlands cette année. Des groupes qui se dirigeaient au Festival de Skye, telles que Kasabian et Primal Scream sont passées se rechauffer sur la route.

Je suis allé voir deux concerts, The Grim Northern Social qui jouaient avant Eddie and the Hotrods, et puis plus récemment Primal Scream.

GNS avant Eddie and the Hotrods me semblait un peu bizarre. GNS devaient être les stars de la soirée et il y avait pas mal de l’assistance qui se sont pointé les voir. Le nouveau guitare leur donnait plus de force que la dernière fois. Les vieilles chansons étaient bien ainsi que les nouvelles. Album à paraître. Plus guitare qu’avant et le chanteur, Ewan MacFarlane, manquait un peu son énergie normale. Il citait The Market Bar entre deux chansons qui était l’instant où il se ressemblait le plus. Peut-être qu’il boudait de passer avant Eddie and the Hotrods. Il était néanmoins super. Il pourrait point être moins.

Avant qu’ils prenaient la scène je me rappellais de rien sauf “Do Anything You Wanna Do”. Une fois sur scène ils lançaient tube après tube, du rock bien fondé sur l’ancien r & b. Bientôt je dansais comme tout le monde. C’était grâce à l’effet du bar sans doute. Bonne halle, bon son, bonne musique, gueule de bois le lendemain et abasourdi pour la bonne cause. E &HR avaient l’air de s’amuser à jouer et à nous amuser pour la soirée.

Le 24 mai c’était Primal Scream. Plus bruyant, plus de monde, plus jeune, bien qu’il y avait pas mal d’anciens punks des années soixante-dix. Mes filles m’ont offert des billets pour mon anniversaire et la cadette m’a accompagné. £25 le billet pour un seul groupe! Primal Scream faisait rien pour nourrir les jeunes talentueux du coin. Une occasion ratée, un peu comme la soirée entière.
Le lendemain ils jouaient à Skye et la soirée à Inverness ressemblait à une répétition. Si on avait déposé dix livres à la caisse, d’accord, mais les filles avaient payé pour du vrai. Manny au moins faisait un petit effort, mais les autres se foutaient de notre gueule. Quel frimeur que Bobby Gillespie! Manque totale de passion ou manque d’effort? Ils fondaient Les Ironworks avec les quatres grandes tubes à la fin de la soirée qui était génial. Là, ça rockait, mais jusque-là c’etait moyen.
Cette fois le bar était moins une service qu’un mal au cul. Les videurs qui rendent l’ambiance géniale dans les bars de la ville poursuivaient une conduite laissez-faire où dans le devant de la salle ça allait de lancer une pinte de bière dans la foule. D’accord c’était en plastique, mais quand même on avait payé cher pour se faire tremper par les idiots qui avaient plus de pognon que de force intéllectuelle. Quelqu’un en a lancé une vers la scène et Bobby Gillespie avait l’air emmerdé un moment. Rock and Roll! Ni le lanceur ni le but n’avait bien compris. Les videurs illuminaient les visages des lanceurs à l’aide de leur petite lampe. Pas assez! Sortez-les! Ça n’ira point ailleurs donc pourquoi payer cher pour se faire tremper par la bière rejetée d’autrui?

C’est une super installation que Les Ironworks, mais il faut la faire marcher. Primal Scream, plutôt Bâille on dirait. GNS et Eddie and the Hotrods leur aura montré comment le faire et ces derniers sont plus âgés que moi! Ils rockaient plus fort, s’amusaient et nous faisaient sourire. Le même 24 mai Ewan MacFarlane de GNS jouait au Market Bar, Inverness. J’aurais préféré, mais merci les filles quand même…

Beer bath at the Ironworks

July 2, 2007

Been away from blogging for a bit being ill. I worked out last week that the absence of blogging is a symptom and decided I’d be back this week!

I managed to fit in some observation of Highland culture 2007 even while ill, I just haven’t got round to writing about it. So let’s start with Inverness’s relatively recent medium-sized venue, The Ironworks.

First off, it’s been long-awaited and badly needed. The programme has been lively and improving, thanks partly to the 2007 focus to some extent and thanks also to the festival fever hitting the Highlands this year. Bands who were up for the Skye Festival like Kasabian and Primal Scream stopped by for a work-out on their way west.

I caught two gigs, The Grim Northern Social supporting the revived Eddie and the Hotrods, then the more recent Primal Scream gig.

GNS supporting Eddie and the Hotrods seemed like a strange one. GNS should have been the headline act and certainly a lot of the fairly sparse audience were there to see them. A new line-up tightened the band up and gave it a heavier sound than when last seen at Eden Court a few years back. The oldies still sounded good and the newies sounded ok too. More guitar-oriented than before and Ewan MacFarlane on vocals seemed less up for it than usual. He name-checked The Market Bar at one point and that was the nearest he came to giving us his usual craic. Maybe he was a bit annoyed at being the support act. He was great anyway. Could he be anything less?

Before E & HR came on I was struggling to remember anything beyond “Do Anything You Wanna Do”. They came on and churned out song after song, slick rock with a good r&b foundation. I was dancin with the best of them shortly thereafter. That was probably also down to The Ironworks licenced bar supplying me all night. Good venue, good sound, feelgood music, hangover next day and deaved in a good cause. The band looked like they were having fun and enjoyed giving us a good night.

24 May was the Primal Scream gig. Much busier, much younger crowd on average, although still a fair number of seventies-survivors around. My daughters had bought me tickets for my birthday and the younger one humoured me by coming along too. £25 a ticket and no support act! Primal Scream were not doing their bit to bring on the talent I felt. Bit of a missed opportunity, but so was the rest of the show.
They were playing in Skye the next night and it felt like a bit of a run-through. That might have been ok if we had paid a tenner, but my girls had shelled out a good bit more. Manny tried hard to give value for money with some good interaction with the audience, but the rest were going through the motions. What a poser Bobby Gillespie is! Completely lacking in presence or just not trying too hard? The band cranked it up for the four big hit songs at the end which was fun and they rocked the place, but up to then it was a bit underwhelming.

This time though The Ironworks’ licenced bar was more of a pain in the butt than a service. The bouncers, good guys all who run it tight in bars across the town, were implementing an easy-going regime where in the front area of the room it was fine to lob a pint of beer into the crowd. It was in plastic glasses but people who had paid good money were getting soaked by morons who had more money than sense. Somebody chucked one at the stage at one point and Bobby Gillespie looked momentarily irritated. Rock and Roll! Neither the thrower or the target had the idea really. The bouncers shone torches at anyone who they reckoned was getting out of hand. Not good enough! Chuck them out! It’s not ok anywhere else so why should I pay to get soaked by somebody else’s reject beer?

Great facility this but we need to get it right. As for Primal Scream… bit of a yawn really. Both GNS and Eddie and the Hotrods rocked them into oblivion. The last guys are my age and seemed to be enjoying it and made us feel good too. The same 24 May, Ewan MacFarlane of GNS was playing at The Market Bar. Wish I’d been there.

At last / enfin vidéo!

January 22, 2007

fireworks / feux d’artifice

monster / monstre

transe expresse

La Fête Monstrueuse

January 16, 2007

Donc, on a traversé le pont, direction est, centre ville. Quant aux infos on était 15 – 18 000 personnes. Pour la première fois Inverness avait l’air d’une grande ville. On venait de voir une bonne animation avec matos de qualité.
Les monstres qui nous précédaient sur le pont étaient disparus quand on atteignait Bridge Street, mais il y avait un groupe louche qui jouait des djembés sur les marches d’un magasin sur une rhythme complexe. Montant à High Street on a croisé un groupe de monstres, moitié chiens afghanes, moitié giraffes. Quelques autres, genre vélociraptor, se tenaient à l’écart, mais ils avaient l’air nettement moins bienveillant.
On a continué jusqu’à l’Eastgate où on trouvait une groupe d’insectoïdes humaines qui jouait au banjo, tambour et à la tuba (!) la tube du feu James Brown – moi aussi, I felt good! Dou, dou, dou, dou, dou, dou, dou! La foule chantait mieux que le groupe, mais, bon, c’était une fête de la rue et le groupe nous filait le genre de musique qu’il nous fallait!
On traversait Innes Street vers Falcon Square et la foule devenait encore plus dense. On s’est trouvé en vis-à-vis avec les vélociraptors, un peu effrayant mais ils nous ont trouvés trop minable pour s’en soucier. On est entré dans Falcon Square qui était déjà bondé. Il y avait des milliers de gens autour de nous. On a retrouvé des copains et on a échangé nos meilleurs vœux et on a pas mal discuté. Par hasard on avait une bouteille de la tradition écossaise, mais personne était bourré et une ambiance cordiale continuait.
Devant nous il y avait un énorme cric qui abritaient Pizza Express. Une toile d’arraignée en grosses cordes y était suspendu et depuis ça il y avait un cadre de tuyaux enroulés. je n’arrivais pas à le déchiffrer. Au sommet de la toile, une cloche était suspendu sur une balançoire de gymnaste où perchait un mec en kilt. On voyait bien qu’il ne le portait pas à la mode “commando”. Il y avait huit podiums qui encerclait le machin. C’était la première vue de Transe Expresse (google les!), les stars de la Fête Monstrueuse, le ballet aérien Marseillais.
Les petits podiums étaient équippés de flammes que surveillait un des assistant de la troupe. Huit musiciens se relayaient sur chaque podium, le roulement sur un coup de cloche du mec en kilt. Ils portaient tous des vêtements pour la plupart blanches, qui ressemblaient à des costumes de la commedia du 17e / 18e siècles. Ils étaient chacun différent, mais ma préférée était celle qui soulevait toujours sa jupe `a la Moulin Rouge en essayant de provoquer la foule. La pièce s’appelle “Maudits Sonnants”, mais je ne le comprenais pas trop bien. Il faisait doux et, malgré l’invitation d’un des comédiens de rentrer chez nous, la foule était fixée sur place.
Enfin le cric a commencé à soulever la toile de cordes sur un autre coup de cloche, et les cordes se transformait en cloche. Le cadre enroulé en bas ressemblait à huit pétales pliées en haut. Pui, d’un seul coup, les personnages qui nous avaient amusés sur leur podium sont montés en l’air faisant partie du machin montant sous le cric avec le kilté. Trois gymnastes étaient suspedus sur d’autres balançoires, presque invisible dans leur manteaux noirs. Le tout montait en l’air pendant que les musiciens jouaient un air sur leur cloches et tambours bien fixés (espérons) au machin. La musique était hivernale et d´licate sur le fond de la grande cloche, pas toute à fait les cloches de toboggan, plutôt un automate d’antan. Cétait épatant de le voir tourner, monter, illuminé de lumières blanches et bleues – et tout au coeur d’Inverness! Je n’ai jamais rien vu de pareil. Quelqu’un disait que c’était une fois de la vie, et c’est exact. Si j’ai la chance de les revoir je saurai me repérer.
Les gymnastes s’y sont mis, enlevant leur manteau et se comportant en automates un moment. Et puis les pétales se dépliaient et les musiciens dégageaient le bas du machin qui se transformait pour faire place aux gymnastes. Ils prenaient chacun leur tour pour parfaire des manoeuvres dangereux et élégants. Le machin entier se tournait et retournait en tintant comme la cloche elle-même qui servait de fondation à la pièce entière. Il y avait un brin du Bossu de Notre Dame et un autre de dystopie technologique, genre ancien science-fiction. Le tout était beau, malgré le short du kilté. Il accélerait le tempo à une frénésie de cloche, un vrai carillon, pendant que les assistants allumaient un feu ou une fusée en bas. Puis la structure entière semblait trembler sauvagement et est vite descendu par terre aux applaudissements et bravos de l’assistance.
Une seule voix d’opposition était le mec bourré qui disait, “Putain de Jingle Bells encore une fois,” mais il prévoyait peut-être la gueule de bois de son lendemain.
Fan ta schtique! Je serai maintenant plus compréhensif des campanologistes du cathédrale.
Sur la route du retour boire un verre pour nous rechauffer, on s’est arrêté se payer des frîtes au West End Chippie. Il y avait quatre personnes devant nous au magasin et puis dix qui nous suivaient. La dame nous disait qu’on devait attendre les frîtes une demi-heure, donc on s’est tiré. Ça manquait un peu d’entreprise et de vision, mais peut-être que les vélociraptors sont passés avant nous tout bouffer.
Ça n’a pas gâché une soirée extraordinaire.

Monster Street Party

January 15, 2007

So, off we went over the bridge, heading east into town. According to the radio reports we were 18 – 15,000 strong. For the first time, Inverness felt like a city. Quality show with quality equipment.

The monsters from the bridge had disappeared by the time we made it onto Bridge St., but there was a scary looking band playing on the steps of a shop, it sounded like djembés drumming a complex rhythm. When we got up to the High St. a group of monsters, which looked like a cross between afghan hounds and giraffes, came among us. Some more velociraptor types were hanging about, but they looked more menacing.

We carried on up to the Eastgate where there was a group of human insectoids with banjos, drum and tuba (!) playing a tribute to the late, great James Brown – I felt good! Doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo! The audience sung better than the band, but hey, it was a street party and the band were giving us what we wanted!

Down Innes Street towards Falcon Square and the streets were getting busier. A head-on encounter with the flock of velociraptors was just a bit scary, but they seemed to reckon we were beneath their dignity. We came onto the square which was already packed. There were thousands all round us. We met some old friends, wished each other a happy (auld) New Year and had a bit craic,. The traditional Scottish dram happened to be to hand, but no-one was the worse for wear and the atmosphere was good.

In the square there hung an enormous crane boom, reaching over the Pizza Express building. Some kind of rope web was suspended from it and it, in turn, held a frame of some kind with interlocked loops. It was unfathomable from where I was. In the rope rigging hung a big bell and a trapeze artist’s swing where a man wearing a kilt was perched. From our angle, even early on, it was easy to see he had decided not to go “commando”. There were eight wee stages in a circle round this contraption. This was our first sight of Transe Expresse, the main act of the Monster street-party, the aerial ballet from Marseille (google them).

All the wee stages were kitted with half a dozen burners each, which were blazing away and were kept topped up by a member of the troupe’s ground crew. Eight characters who turned out to be musicians took turns on each podium, changing over when the kiltie rang the big bell. They were dressed in predominantly white outfits which looked like 17/18th century commedia costumes. All were different and distinct, but naturally my favourite was the woman who kept doing a sort of can-can move with her skirts as they all attempted to get some audience reaction. The piece was called “Maudits Sonnants” or Damned Ringers I suppose, but I didn’t know quite what to make of it. No way was I moving though, before the show really got going and the same was true of the rest of the huge crowd. The weather was with them and despite the invitation of one performer to go home the crowd was transfixed.
The crane eventually started to lift the rigging up on another bell signal and the ropes took a bell-shaped look. The loops were evenly spaced like eight folde-up petals. Then, suddenly, the eight who had been noising us up and entertaining us were part of the lifting object along with the kiltie. Three trapeze artists were in the middle, almost invisibly shrouded in black cloaks. The whole thing rose into the air as the performers played on bells and drums, while (hopefully) strapped to the frame. The music had an ethereal, wintry feel to it, not quite sleigh bells, but more like one of the clockwork automata of yesteryear. It was stunning, circling, rising, lit by white and blue lights and right in the heart of Inverness. I’ve never seen anything like it. Someone said it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and it’s true. If I see them again I’ll have a frame of reference.

The trapeze artists joined in, discarding their cloaks and moving like automata themselves for a while. Then the petals unfolded and the musicians rose above the trapeze artists as the frame reshaped itself to leave a bigger space for the trapeze artists. Each then took a solo turn to perform some excitingly dangerous and awe-inspiring moves. The whole thing spun in the air, clockwise, anticlockwise and swayed like the bell itself which punctuated the whole performance. There was an obvious Hunchback of Notre Dame reference and some kind of clockwork, technology, almost science-fictional dystopic doomwatch. The whole thing, though was beautiful, despite kiltie’s very necessary football shorts. He raised the tempo to a climax of bells, a veritable carillon while the ground crew lit a fire or flare, I couldn’t clearly see which, down below, then the whole structure seemed to wobble wildly and quickly descended to ground amid the crowd’s applause and bravos. Every bit of the crowd’s response was deserved by the twelve who braved the elements of a Scottish winter.

All the while the only scorning voice was a drunk who said it was, “Bloody Jingle Bells again,” but he was probably just anticipating his hangover.

Fan-flippin-tastic! I’ll try to be more tolerant of the Cathedral bellringers in future.

Back home for a warming dram, but stopped off at the West End Chippie. There were four people in the shop in front of us and maybe another ten came in behind. The woman in charge said we’d have to wait half an hour for chips so we just left. Seemed a bit lacking in foresight and enterprise, but maybe they’d been cleaned out by the velociraptors just before we got there.

Didn’t spoil an extraordinary evening.

Photos & videos

January 15, 2007

While you wait, check upnorthme’s photos on Flickr

Check shuggyjarse’s video on YouTube

Others available too.

En attendant cherchez les photos d’ upnorthme sur Flickr

et le vidéo de shuggyjarse’ sur YouTube

Plein d’autres aussi.

The Launch

January 13, 2007

The whole day was stormy (Fri 12/01/07), rain and 60 mph winds. I was glued to the radio to hear if it was all going to be off or not. It was strangely exciting: a big disappointment or an extraordinary evening?
During the weather meeting which was deciding it all, I went out to the local supermarket. It was liking stepping out of your door straight into a club, The Scissor Sisters were blasting out on the huge sound system they had installed in front of the castle. It was still raining, but the wind had dropped, so we could still hope …
An hour later we were in the crowd on the west bank of the River Ness. There were thousands of us, too many to count. The castle was lit in a faint green light, the building at the corner of Bank Street on the bridge facing us sported a podium with a microphone, and another bigger podium had been installed lower down, in front of the castle. Two giant LCD screens dominated the scene
When we arrived there was a slideshow of photos of the Highlands and Islands on the screens. The rain had stopped and the weather was fine for a January night in Inverness. No-one knew what was about to happen – would we see the much-trailed fireworks? We guessed that we’d be treated to the pipes and some fiddling and a speech or two, but we didn’t know too much else…
Then, at last, a woman started talking to us about Scotland’s Year of Highland and Island Culture. She went on for about ten minutes in two languages, Gaelic and English, and eventually introduced the Inverness Gaelic Choir. Twenty or so hardy souls were onstage with the obligatory kilts and tartan scarves. It was cold, but they sung beautifully a fine, sad Gaelic song. A lament from Raasay. It was a good start to the evening, maybe a bit sad, but lovely.
Next came the Massed Pipes and Drums of the Highlands on the terrace above Fox’s. An impressive spectacle. It might have been better if they’d marched onto the bridge or something, but it was the real Scottish deal, a real must on such a night. For an assembly of different bands it was a very slick performance.
Some more patter from the bilingual lady – the pace was a little languid. Then Blazin’ Fiddles, a supergroup of fiddlers with a guitar behind them, continued the high energy of the evening. They came from across the Highlands and Islands, from the West Coast to Shetland. The most blazin’ fiddler in a blazin’ bunch was Bruce MacGregor, in front of his fellow citizens, slicing out reels like a demon. Real local heroes.
Scotland’s First Minister, Jack McConnell, gave the official Opening Speech. Apparently, the year of culture was his idea. His speech, which ticked all the content boxes, was completely lacking in inspiration from him and didn’t inspire anyone around, but he did what he had to without falling out with anyone.
The festival duly opened, we had a fairly average bit of video on the screens with a voice-over from our bilingual friend, explaining the themes and logo of the Festival. More impressive was the illumination of the church buildings on the riverside in the festival colours.
Then the fireworks. One word – superb! Even the castle looked lovely for a few moments! It was a traditional show, but well and plentifully done, and it had two jabs of surprise. When we were all staring at the sky, awaiting the next pyrotechnic phase, a fleet of white lanterns passed in front of us floating downriver. Once we’d forgotten that they did it again with red ones. It was a really well planned surprise, using the geography of the city to amaze us.
At the end of the launch, we were all invited, in our thousands, to the Monster Street Party, named in Nessie’s honour, and a last coup de theatre awaited us. Three huge monsters came into the crowd and met on the bridge to lead us to the street party. What a great night! There were loads of people smiling – unheard of in Inverness in January!

Webcam link on the official site: http://www.highland2007.com

Le début

January 13, 2007

Pendant toute la journée hier (vendredi,12 janvier) on avait une vrai tempête, il pleuvait et ça soufflait jusqu’à 90km/h. Donc on écoutait les infos à la radio pour entendre s’ils allaient tout annuler ou quoi, Bizarrement, on était excité: la grande déception ou une soirée qui sortait de l’ordinaire?

Pendant la réunion météo qui décidait tout, je suis sorti de chez moi au pied du château aller au supermarché. Déjà on avait l’impression d’être en boîte, on entendait bien The Scissor Sisters sur l’énorme système sono qu’ils avaient installé devant le château. Il pleuvait toujours, mais ça soufflait moins, donc on osait espérer…

Une heure plus tard on faisait partie d’une foule sur la rive ouest de la fleuve, la Ness. On était des milliers de gens, difficile d’énumérer. Le château était baigné d’une faible lumière verte, le bâtiment qui fait le coin de Bank Street sur le pont nous montrait un podium avec micro, en haut du pont en face de nous, il y avaient un autre podium plus grand et plus bas sur la côte devant le chateau. Deux grands écrans LCD dominaient tout.

Quand on arrivaient ils diffusaient un slideshow de photos des Highlands et des Îles. La pluie avait cessé et il faisait bien pour une nuit de janvier à Inverness. Personne ne savait ce qui allait se passer – des feux d’artifice? On devinait qu’on aurait droit à un coup de cornemuse et du violon et un discours, mais on savait pas trop…

Et puis, enfin une dame a commencé à nous parler du début de l’Année Écossaise de la Culture des Highlands et des Îles. Elle racontait pas mal de trucs pendant dix minutes en deux langues, anglais et gaelic, et enfin elle nous présentait le Choeur Gaelic d’Inverness. Une vingtaine de braves gens étaient sur scène, des kilts et des écharpes de clan obligatoires. Ça caillait, mais ils chantaient bien une belle et triste chanson en gaelic, Une Lamentation de Raasay. Bon début de la soirée et de l’année. Peut-être un peu triste, mais beau.
Secundo on avait les groupes de conrnemuse et tambours des Highlands massées sur la terrasse en haut de Fox’s. Impressionant comme spectacle. Peut-être mieux s’ils marchaient à travers du pont, mais c’étaient le truc écossais, un vrai sine qua non. Vu que c’était un regroupement de plusieurs orchestres, c’était bien joué.

Un peu plus de baratin de la dame bilingue, trop lent les changements de scène! Puis Blazin’ Fiddles, un supergroupe de violoneux avec guitare au fond pour continuer la haute énergie de la soirée. Ils représentaient pas mal de parties des Highlands et des Îles depuis la côte ouest jusqu’à Shetland. Le plus énergique devant ses concitoyens était Bruce McGregor qui nous filait des reels comme un démon. Des vrais héros du coin.

Le Premier Ministre de l’Ecosse, Jack McConnell, nous donnait le discours officiel de l’ouverture. Apparemment l’année de culture était son idée à lui. Son discours, qui disait tout ce qu’il fallait, manquait totalement d’inspiration de son côté et n’inspirait personne de notre côté, mais néanmoins il a fait le truc sans froisser personne.

Une fois le festival ouvert, on a eu droit à un vidéo un peu nul sur les deux écrans géants qui expliquait le symbole et les éléments du festival. En même temps la dame bilingue nous expliquait ce qui se passait pendant qu’ils illuminaient les églises importantes sur les bords de la riviére dans les couleurs de la symbole – assez impressionant.

Et puis les feux d’artifice. Un seul mot – superbe! Même le château semblait assez beau pour quelques instants! C’était le truc traditionel, mais bien et copieusement fait, sauf qu’il y avait deux coups de théatre. Un moment au début quand on fixait le ciel il y avait une flotte de petites lanternes blanches qui passait devant nous sur la surface de la rivière. Plus tard quand on avait oublié ce premier coup, ils l’avaient refait, mais cette fois en lanternes rouges. C’était super bien réfléchi de profiter de la géographie pour nous surprendre.

À la fin de l’évènement on etait tous, les milliers, invités à la Fête Monstrueux, nommée dans l’honneur de Nessie, et un dernier coup de théatre nous attendait. Trois énormes monstres sont descendus dans la foule et se sont retrouvés sur le pont pour nous conduire à la Fête. Génial, comme la soirée. Il y avait plein de gens qui souriaient – inoui en Écosse en janvier!

Webcam sur le site officiel: http://www.highland2007.com

Anticipation (en)

January 10, 2007

Tonight the castle across from us changed colour every couple of minutes. My favourite was when they put all the lights out so we couldn’t see the monstrosity. I can always dream!

It was the start of the rehearsals for the Auld New Year which brings the launch of Scotland’s Year of Highland Culture. There’s going to be a huge street party – 15,000 expected – just outside our door and there’s going to be loads happening. You have to be brave or even nuts to come up with an idea like that for Inverness at this time of year, but so far the weather forecast is good for Friday. We’ll see. As Billy Connolly says, there’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes.

So on Friday 12/01/07, Scotland’s Year of Highland Culture kicks off, and with it the blog proper!

To find out more:

http://www.highland2007.com/default.aspx.locid-07lnew01q.htm

Marking an t-Seann Bhliadhn’ Ùr, the Old New Year, the Highland 2007 Launch and Lifescan Monster Street Party is the first major event in the programme for Highland 2007, the year Scotland celebrates Highland culture.

according to the official site. I don’t know if it’s available in other languages (Gaelic maybe?), but it should be…