I recently went to three totally contrasting gigs in six nights, all of them brilliant in their own way that it’s impossible to say what was the best.

First up, Yard Act gave us one of those nights at the Barrowlands that makes you think that it could very well be the best venue on the planet, such is the way an enthusiastic audience gets committed and involved.  This action photo of frontman James Smith has been pinched from elsewhere.


Three days later, almost 36 musicians/singers were on the stage of the Armadillo, again in Glasgow, for an orchestral show by James marking 40 years of the band being together.  Old hits done in new ways, obscure b-sides and deep cuts from the back catalogue, mostly delivered in a slow-mid tempo for a seated audience, was a different kind of magic.  There was a pre-gig announcement asking audience members not to take photos or record anything via their phones, one that I was happy to comply with.

Finally, and this was last Wednesday night, I nipped down on the train to Manchester and then stayed overnight after seeing Steve Mason do his thing in front of maybe 450-500 people.  His new album, ‘Brothers and Sisters’ is proving to be one of THE releases of 2023, and this time round there was very little chat other than to say thanks after each song, but he was in great voice and his touring band/backing singers didn’t miss a beat. Utterly professional beyond belief, and throwing in some Beta Band and King Biscuit Time songs just added to the occasion.

mp3:  Yard Act – The Overload
mp3:  Steve Mason – The People Say

Be Opened By The Wonderful is the title of the double album being released by James on 9 June.  It’ll consist of 19 songs (vinyl) and 20 songs (CD) that have been reimagined and re-recorded with an orchestra and choir.  Here’s one that’s been offered up as a preview.

Next up for me is a trip down to Leeds to see Spare Snare, while great seats have been purchased for John Cooper Clarke‘s visit to Glasgow this coming Sunday.



  1. Think orchestral James would have been the highlight of these three for me

  2. would have popped along to Spare Snare but seeing Roddy Woomble at the Old Woolen Mill tomorrow – great little venue

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