A blog from Chris Bartter, trade union writer and communications expert in Scotland,
This blog is a small contribution in opposition to the right-wing consensus in the media, and will. hopefully, campaign for working people and public services.
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Thursday, 4 December 2014
Looking Forward (and Remembering) - A tribute to Tony
Tony Benn (photo courtesy Sunday Mail)
300 plus people squashed into Glasgow's Mitchell Theatre on
Sunday to celebrate a legend. As compère
Susan Morrison pointed out, the word was in danger of overuse, as artists like
Fraser Speirs, James Grant and Arthur Johnstone followed one another onto the
stage. But in reality one legend dominated. Tony Benn himself, was the life
being celebrated - to him went the accolade
Despite the last minute absence of Roy Bailey, taken ill on his
way to the concert, the bill in the two concerts was crammed with talent. The
first (spoken word) concert featured the acid sharpness of Tom Leonard, the
pointed humour of Elvis McGonagall and the up-front politics of Attila the
Stockbroker. Held together by the stories of Bruce Morton, it was a revelation
to those who possibly hadn't experienced performance poetry before.
The main bill, however, was reserved for the evening concert.
Curated by singer-songwriter,
Rab Noakes (photo by Alan MacMillan)
Rab Noakes and introduced by Scottish Labour
leadership candidate, Neil Findlay MSP (who had the initial idea) a positive
galaxy of musicians from Scotland, augmented by guests from South of the border
served up a great evening. Ably compèred
by Susan Morrison, the first half was introduced by Rab and Fraser's version of
Sixteen Tons. Arthur Johnstone and
Stephen Wright replaced Rab to give us some Woody Guthrie (Playboys and Playgirls) and Adrian Mitchell's Victor Jara. Appropriately, that introduced some more poetry from
Elvis McGonagall, whose sharp analysis and humour made the politics more
pointed - and converted not a few to performance poetry!
While all the show took place under the watchful eye of Tony Benn
from the big screen, his granddaughter, Emily, who read from Letters to my Grandchildren, made
further family input. She thanked the organisers, and called on everyone to
continue the fight for democracy, equality and peace that Tony Benn had given
his life to. Rab Noakes' main set - Incorporating the ever-coruscating Spin closed the first half.
The second half rang the changes with the Qyeen of NRNXPO -
probably the first time many of the audience have been exposed to rap! Attila
the Stockbroker put some political meat on the bones before the double act of
Alastair McDonald and Sheena Wellington brought us back to some traditional
material - No, Trident No (Alastair),
Mrs Barbour's Army (Sheena) and of
course the song closely associated with her - A Man's a Man for a' that.
James Grant's set moved us into the current day with dark songs
of loss - My Father's Coat in
particular. And the finale gave us a different take on The Red Flag. By reverting to its initial tune (The White Cockade) Rab and the ensemble
breathed a new, much more jaunty, life into the song.
With the now traditional Jarama
Valley/Bandiera Rosa winding up the night, the whole day was one of
tradition, mixed with development. Encouraging new experiences, while
celebrating old successes. Surely entirely appropriate for an evening for Tony