Events like this really aren’t ‘my thing’, I’ve always been impressed by Danny Boyle’s films since Shallow Grave but despite him being appointed artistic director of the Olympics bonanza a couple of years ago, I just couldn’t muster the necessary enthusiasm to watch a single moment of the extravaganza he put together to kick off London 2012.
Being a Glaswegian, though, curiosity did get the better of me on Wednesday night so around nine o’clock I switched on my TV and settled down to see what sort of spectacle would be on show at Celtic Park.
Unusually the city was bathed all day in sunshine, the temperature reaching as high as 25 degrees C – the only thing higher being the price of drinks inside the stadium: £20 for four pints with shorts even pricier. Hopefully bucketloads of bevvy wouldn’t be required by spectators to enjoy the evening ahead.
We’d been promised the ceremony would be ironic and subversive so when Karen Dunbar and John Barrowman appeared first up with a dreadful song and dance number written especially for the show, I thought maybe it was a joke and that after somebody like the Krankies were introduced up next that maybe Ewan McGregor would quickly appear to recreate his ‘It’s shite being Scottish’ rant from Trainspotting and that things could actually get very interesting.
Okay, I didn’t really think this and the much touted potential audience of one billion plus was down by at least one within minutes. Time for some of Scotland’s national drink.
When I did flick on my remote back I caught a silver suited and more than slightly hoarse Rod Stewart croaking his way at times through Rhythm of My Heart and then Susan Boyle, a woman whose popularity has always remained an absolute mystery to me, performing what seemed like a shortened version of Mull of Kintyre which just wasn’t short enough.
Apparently I missed a giant kilt, hordes of people dressed as Tunnock’s tea cakes, loads of chairs being moved around by dancers along an old Andy Stewart tune and the aforementioned Ewan McGregor starting the ball rolling for some charity fundraising for Unicef.
In retrospect a better idea than my Mark Renton one. And if you’d like to donate five pounds to that appeal text FIRST to 70333.
My TV did go back on again an hour or so later and before I’m dismissed as a ‘detractor’ I’m happy to admit that things had improved. The athletes all seemed to enjoy parading round the multicoloured track (a little Jim Lambie-esque) and taking selfies. The English team arrived to a genuinely warm applause – so much for the Telegraph’s predictions that they might be booed and the stadium went berserk for the Scots, who arrived to The Shamens’ Move Any Mountain in their apparently controversial team outfits, which looked fine and dandy to me. Not that you’re likely to see me dressed in any garb like that the next time I make my way down London Road or Sauchiehall Street.
Billy Connolly, via a recorded message, told the story of Glasgow signalling the city’s support for the campaign to free Nelson Mandela by renaming St George’s Place to Nelson Mandela Place, a decision devised to cause maximum embarrassment to the South African consulate housed there.
Then it was time for the great and the good (I’m guessing) to spout clichés and (I’m guessing) engage in some political point scoring during (I’m guessing again) some very long winded speeches.
TV back off and onto Soundcloud for me where I listened again to the three tracks on new Glaswegian band Lola in Slack’s demo produced by former Simple Mind Mick MacNeil. Much more like the thing.
The bill for the Glasgow Mix Tape event taking place on this Saturday (2. August) is also much more to my taste than anything I witnessed at Parkhead on Wednesday night.
On Glasgow Green that day there will be everything from the Dixieland jazz of Penman’s Jazzmen to the good time ska of The Amphetameanies but the day will mainly reflect what the organisers, the East End Social describe as ‘the city’s extraordinary heritage for independent music making’.
Highlights for me should include The Phantom Band, an acoustic set from Edwyn Collins and, headlining the Living Room stage, Lloyd Cole and The Leopards – who can be seen below on Later performing Women’s Studies:
And this is Edwyn Collins accompanied by Paul Cook on drums doing Losing Sleep, the title track of Edwyn’s seventh solo album:
Keep the faith!
For more on the East End Social click here.
For more on the fantastic Lola in Slacks click here.