Gig of the Month

Nicola Benedetti plays Simpson, Music Hall, Aberdeen, March 21; Usher Hall, Edinburgh, March 22; Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow, March 23

Any opportunity to catch Scotland’s superstar classical violinist Nicola Benedetti is always one to seize, but these March performances have the added bonus of hearing her perform the Scottish premiere of composer Mark Simpson’s Violin Concerto in collaboration with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

Simpson, himself a clarinettist, won both the Young Musician of the Year and the BBC Proms/Guardian Composer of the Year awards in 2006. He wrote this concerto especially for Benedetti and she has described it as “the fullest of everything in every possible way.”

Which should make for a good double bill with Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony.

The Herald: Nicola BenedettiNicola Benedetti (Image: free)


OVO Hydro, Glasgow, March 18

Here it comes. The noughties revival. And we’re not talking about the latest tour from old ropey guitar bands (The Libertines, I ask you). No, your actual, proper pop stuff. The precision-tooled, sonically adventurous, admittedly utterly libidinous, American R&B of the early 2000s. Usher announced European dates earlier this week. Alas, the only gigs in the UK are in London. But at least March sees Ne-Yo drop into Glasgow for his Champagne & Roses tour. The Arkansas singer, songwriter and producer - aka Shaffer Chimere Smith - made a name for himself with such crisp, radio-friendly hits as Closer and Miss Independent from 2007. He also wrote Spotlight for Jennifer Hudson and Beyonce’s Irreplaceable (“To the left, to the left …”) And, quite frankly, there are few pop stars who know how to wear a hat as well as he does. It should be a proper night out.

The Zutons

P.J. Molloys, Dunfermline, March 6; Fat Sams, Dundee, March 7

What was it I was just saying about noughties guitar bands? I’ll not hear a bad word about The Zutons. Not even from myself. The Liverpool band has a new album - The Big Decider - out in April, the first since 2008’s You Can Do Anything. They split back in 2009 and apart from a few one-off gigs have been on radio silence ever since. But now they’re back with a bang and a proper banger in single Creeping on the Dancefloor. You can hear the influence of Chic’s Nile Rodgers all over it. No surprise perhaps as he has co-produced the album alongside Ian Broudie.

Scotland Sings Bacharach

Aberdeen Music Hall, Aberdeen, March 1; Usher Hall, March 3; Perth Concert Hall, March 8

Before his death in 2023, had been writing songs for the best part of 70 years. And what songs. His collaboration with lyricist Hal David resulted in some of the greatest tunes in the American songbook from the second half of the 20th century, sung by some of the century’s greatest singers - Dionne Warwick, Dusty Springfield, Aretha Franklin and Karen Carpenter. He also worked with the likes of Elvis Costello, Sheryl Crow and even Dr Dre in his later years. But, no doubt, it will be the timeless masterpieces he created with Hal David in the 1960s and 1970s that will be front and centre in these celebration gigs. Scottish artists Emma Pollock, Karine Polwart, Horse, Justin Currie, Hamish Hawk, Blue Rose Code and Georgia Cecile will all step up to the mic. Who’s singing The Look of Love? That's what I want to know.

The Herald: Burt BacharachBurt Bacharach (Image: free)

Bill Ryder-Jones

Room 2, Glasgow, March 12

Crossing the Mersey to the Wirral … Bill Ryder-Jones, ex of The Coral, has a new album out, Iechyd Da, recorded in his West Kirby studio. It is quite simply lovely; musically dextrous and garlanded by Ryder-Jones’s beautiful bruise of a voice. This Glasgow gig could be something rather special.

The Jesus and Mary Chain

Usher Hall, Edinburgh, March 27

March is a big month for the 1980s. OMD are bringing their dad dancing and songs about Joan of Arc to Edinburgh on March 6. Simple Minds are back from Australia to tour the UK with a couple of gigs at Glasgow’s OVO Hydro at the end of the month. And Happy Mondays play Glasgow’s Barrowland on March 14. But if you fancy some barbed wire nostalgia then the obvious choice is the return of The Jesus and Mary Chain celebrating 40 years of music and mayhem. With a new album, Glasgow Eyes, on the way in March, the Reid brothers are back claiming they’re “tea and toast guys” these days. The 15-minute sets and resultant riots may long be a thing of the past, but it’s hard to believe that the Mary Chain are anything but a fierce live prospect. Is March too soon for them to play April Skies? Let’s hope not.

The Herald: The Jesus and Mary ChainThe Jesus and Mary Chain (Image: free)

The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra Presents Nu-Age Sounds

Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, March 3

This sounds an essential gig for any self-respecting jazz aficionado. The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra collaborates with eight of the hottest talents in the country’s jazz scene. Pianist Fergus McCreadie, saxophonists Helena Kay and Matt Carmichael, trombonist Noushy, bassist Ewan Hastie, collectives KARMA and corto.alto and singer kitti are all showcased in this special event.

Moya Brennan

St Luke’s, Glasgow, March 17

The voice of Clannad (and Enya’s sister) Moya Brennan is playing a series of intimate gigs including this Glasgow date. “One of the greatest voices the human ear has ever experienced,” according to Bono, Brennan’s ability to take traditional Irish music and give it a contemporary twist remains as strong as ever.

The Smile

SEC Armadillo, Glasgow, March 20

I think it’s fair to say that the music of The Smile does sound more than a bit Radioheady. Drummer Tom Skinner - who normally hits the skins for Sons of Kemet - certainly brings a different percussive energy, but otherwise this Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood offshoot project doesn’t seem so very different from the day job - a catalogue of songs replete with doomy beauty. How all this hushed ache and blistering noise translates to the Armadillo will be interesting to see.

The Herald: Georgia CrandonGeorgia Crandon (Image: free)

Georgia Crandon

The Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh, March 6

And finally, you might not have heard of Essex girl Georgia Crandon just yet. But you will. Promoting her titular first album, Crandon comes to Edinburgh to showcase songs that draw on classic soul and R&B. Her cover of northern soul classic Gone With the Wind is My Love is an impressive calling card. At some point very soon she’ll be talked up as the new Amy Winehouse. But she’s doing a pretty good job being herself.