Rory Jones

Writer. Teesside-Glasgow

Category: culture

Jacques Greene @ CCA Glasgow

Written for SynthGlasgow:
http://www.synthglasgow.com/review-jacques-greene-live-at-the-cca/

Over the last six years or so, Montreal’s Jacques Greene has become one of the most celebrated members of Glasgow’s wildly influential LuckyMe collective. Greene’s string of starkly emotive but club-ready EPs for the label originated and perfected an enduring trend of garage-tinged house that sampled chopped vocals from Ciara and Brandy tunes, some of which, like ‘Another Girl,’ became instant hits. While occasionally turning his hand to projects for other similarly-minded crews like London’s Night Slugs, Greene seems to have found a home at LuckyMe, and released a debut album, ‘Feel Infinite’, on the label earlier this month.

jg

Photo: Dhillon Clarke

Described in press releases and interviews as “a record both about the club and for the club” that promulgates a “utopian vision of club culture”, it’s a high-minded but firmly accessible record that gathers the iconic elements of the Jacques Greene sound into a cohesive whole, matching all-out house bangers like lead single ‘You Can’t Deny’ with the likes of heart-rending opener ‘Fall’. While in many ways it’s an album to live with and feels as suited to the headphones as it would be to the club, it’s a tantalizing prospect to experience the project in a live environment, especially in the city he’s come to call a second home.


It’s with the lofty aspirations of ‘Feel Infinite’ in mind that we approach Greene’s show at the Centre for Contemporary Arts on Sauchiehall Street for the Glasgow leg of his European tour. Support comes from a pair of LuckyMe label-mates; local grime producer and rising star Inkke, and label bosses Dominic Flannigan and Martyn Flyn as The Blessings go b2b for an hour before Greene’s live performance commences at the opposite end of the room.

Starting with ‘Fall’, the bulk of the set rearranges the album, gradually building in energy with slow burners first and high octane singles last. But while the zestful, bassline-heavy ‘Real Time’ and ‘To Say’ succeed in getting the early evening crowd moving, it’s the tracks which place more emphasis on evocative vocals and melodies rich in atmosphere that prove most affecting. ‘Dundas Collapse’ and ‘You See All My Light’ sound gargantuan in the space, and the blissed-out, sparkling synths of the latter track spark a hair-standing-on-end moment that’s topped only by Greene closing out the set with ‘Another Girl’.

The night is short and sweet, serving as a showcase for a great album and body of work; but it’s clear that, much like his previous EPs, Greene’s latest creations will really come into their own when they’re played out in the coming months and years – it’s a nicely cyclical thought that ‘Feel Infinite’ is going to soundtrack the kind of nights that produced it.

Jacques Greene – ‘Feel Infinite’ is available now on digital and vinyl formats via LuckyMe.

Wavvy Music Website Launch

Written for SynthGlasgow:
http://www.synthglasgow.com/review-wavvy-music-website-launch/

In the last year or two, Scotland’s burgeoning grime scene seems to have got its act together and gone from strength to strength, its stars gaining recognition from their high-profile London peers and attracting coveted bookings for major shows like Eskimo Dance. Much of this success has been propelled by Scotland’s answer to Risky Roadz or SBTV: Wavvy Music.

Run entirely by Glasgow videographer Konz, the Wavvy Music YouTube channel is a showcase for largely Scottish grime and hip-hop talent, offering an immense volume of run-and-gun freestyles, music videos and set coverage. The likes of Shogun, SWVN and Ransom FA were given early exposure by Wavvy and all appear on it regularly. Having recently expanded the channel into a full-blown website, Konz hosted a party at the appropriately anarchic Flat 0/1 to celebrate. Because while the content put out by Wavvy et al is a crucial component of new generation grime, there’s nothing like seeing it in the flesh.

Wavvy-Music

Focusing on individual lyrcists as opposed to the likes of Ransom Crew, MFTM, LVLZ and the other crews active in Scottish grime, the lineup for tonight boasts a range of MCs and DJs from various corners of the scene. The acidic flows of Chrissy Grimez are to meet SWVN’s more hip-hop tinged lyricism, topped-off by a set of homegrown anthems from Aberdeen’s Ransom FA, with selectors DJ Nojan, Rapture 4D, Faroh, Cleaverhype and Kyle Brown on the ones and twos.

A last minute cancellation from Wolverhampton spitter Zeo Zeonardo places the pressure firmly on the three Scottish MCs. As the venue starts to fill, SWVN warms things up with a slightly more gritty set than we’ve become accustomed to through his tracks, his bars accompanied by darker, more glacial beats. He’s soon followed by Chrissy Grimez, who brings up the tempo with his signature frenetic style, delivering a solid, dynamic set that rallies the crowd into action mode.

The highlight of the night occurs midway through Ransom FA’s set. After smashing out a selection of his best known tracks, there’s a pause before the sun-drenched melody of his Polonis-produced banger ‘Wake Up’, a collaboration with Shogun and arguably the most successful Scottish grime tune to date, slowly chimes in. It’s an undeniable floor-filler, and the crowd is already animated when Shogun emerges from behind the decks for his verse, addressing the room with jagged, accelerated bars, bringing a vigour and powerful sense of urgency to proceedings that reminds us why this Paisley teen is being heralded as the nation’s “great rap hope.”

Immediately following ‘Wake Up’, Shogun instigates a cypher, inviting “anyone that spits” to step up, prompting a gaggle of bodies in the cramped booth passing the mic and belting out their best bars. It’s a scene reminiscent of early pre-revival grime sessions in youth clubs, and a fitting conclusion to the night that demonstrates the real spirit of the genre; fervent, communal and competitive, with a touch of chaos.

T2: Trainspotting review

Written for the Glasgow Guardian:
https://glasgowguardian.co.uk/2017/02/17/review-trainspotting-2/

In 1996, Danny Boyle was at the top of his game. A young and hungry Mancunian director with an eye for vibrant, dynamic visuals that drew inspiration from the likes of Kubrick, and an ear for iconic, on-the-pulse soundtracks, his sophomore film Trainspotting was his calling card, launching not just his career but those of everyone involved – not least the young Ewan McGregor, Robert Carlyle and Kelly Macdonald. The cultural impact of the film can’t be overstated; adapted from “post acid house” writer Irvine Welsh’s shattering debut novel, it’s far more than a film about junkies – it’s still an important reference point today for cinematic style and culture, capturing the zeitgeist in a way no major film before or since has really achieved.

t2-review-pic

So news of a sequel brought to mind a quote from Trainspotting: “You’ve got it, then you lose it”, opines Jonny Lee Miller’s Sick Boy before pontificating on the inevitable downward trajectory of Lou Reed, David Niven and Malcolm McLaren. Even the greatest artists, he believes, are doomed to mediocrity. It would be easy to take that musing and use it to cast doubt on the credibility of a follow-up – the idea that “we all get old and then we can’t hack it any more” was always going to loom large over the sequel to a cultural phenomenon made in the filmmakers’ prime.

It’s testament to the shrewdness of Boyle and screenwriter John Hodge that rather than running away from this inherent problem, they make it the focus of the new film. While the surface elements of Trainspotting are all there – drugs, disastrous sex, beatings, thieving, scheming, Hibs, Adidas and Underworld – T2: Trainspotting is an entirely different creation. It’s a film about ageing, decay, failure and disappointment, with both the characters that inhabit the film and those behind the camera all too aware of their former glory and virility.

When we catch up with the main cast, we find that, just as Sick Boy predicted, they’ve all in some sense “lost it”. Spud has never managed to stay off smack, Begbie’s been stewing in jail for twenty years, and Sick Boy has given up his lofty ambitions to make it as a pimp and pusher to run his auntie’s pub, with a sideline in filming and extorting prostitutes’ clients. Even Renton, the one member of the gang who’s supposed to have realised his dreams and escaped to a better life in Amsterdam, finds his world crumbling around him, his unexpected redundancy and failed marriage driving him back to Edinburgh. He soon reconnects with his old friends, but things start to fall apart when Begbie escapes from prison and catches wind of Renton’s return, and the film becomes a violent game of cat and mouse.

It’s to T2’s credit that it doesn’t try in vain to live up to its predecessor in terms of having a lasting impact on the wider culture. A soundtrack heavily featuring Edinburgh’s Young Fathers doesn’t pack the same punch, and the cast don’t have the same striking look this time around. The fact that the music and wardrobe choices are slightly out of touch with contemporary youth culture is fitting: this is 2017 seen through the eyes of four middle-aged men, and when in one scene they step into an Edinburgh club full of teenagers, they look exactly as they should: bewildered. Renton wears bootcut jeans and still listens to Iggy Pop, and Sick Boy obsesses over old videos of George Best playing for Hibs. As the latter’s younger girlfriend Veronika notifies them, the pair are trapped in the past. Times have changed and left them behind.

Where the film succeeds most is in its portrayal of the things that really haven’t changed since the first instalment; a scene in which Renton and Sick Boy infiltrate a Protestant sectarian pub to steal the patrons’ credit cards (all of whose pins are 1690) and end up having to improvise a chant about the Battle of the Boyne recaptures some of the energy of the original without harking back to it.

And for fans of Trainspotting, there is of course a magic in watching these characters simply interact again. In interviews the stars have readily admitted a special attachment to their roles in the franchise that made their names, and it shows – there’s a sense that some of the cast are giving the performance of their lives. Robert Carlyle, in particular, manages to balance that trademark menace with big laughs and unexpected pathos, his dual unchecked rage and pacifying regret perfectly encapsulating the ideas behind the sequel while reminding us what made the original so great.

Some of Lou Reed’s solo stuff’s not bad, and owing to an inventive concept and stellar performances, neither is this. Though it would be an impossible task to better Trainspotting, that isn’t the intention here – T2 is a worthy addition to the legacy that always looks back with reverence at the film that started it all.

 

Madrid Pride 2015

Short write up and gallery I did for The Local:
http://www.thelocal.es/20150706/in-pictures-madrid-pride-2015

From July 1st to 5th, Madrid’s restaurants, shopfronts and balconies were awash with rainbow colours in a unanimous show of support for the biggest gay pride celebration in Europe. 

The city’s new left wing mayor Manuela Carmena offered an historic symbol of solidarity with the gay community by making the decision to fly the rainbow flag from City Hall for the first time, an act which made this year’s Pride stand out as a landmark event in Madrid’s history.

Carmena highlighted Spain’s pioneering legal amendment which legalised gay marriage in 2005, saying “I am very proud to be the mayor of a capital that took such an important step”.

Over a million people were present at the culminating parade on Saturday, which started at Atocha station and marched north down the Paseo del Prado all the way to the Plaza de Colón.

Relive the experience with these photos, which truly capture the spirit of Madrid Pride 2015.

Just a little over a week since the US legalized gay marriage nationwide, Spain was celebrating its 10 year anniversary of same-sex marriage

Just a little over a week since the US legalized gay marriage nationwide, Spain was celebrating its 10 year anniversary of same-sex marriage