This is piece from local musician Alan Cynic about his memories of the Music Hall. Alan, aka the Kitchen Cynics, has been described as: "probably one of Scotland's best-kept secrets", he has released many albums and is a highly respected musician with many admirers including Tom Rapp (Pearls Before Swine), Josephine Foster, Ben Chasny (Six Organs of Admittance), Mary Hampton, Thomas Truax, Pamela Wyn Shannon, Jesse Poe and PG Six, many of whom have shared a stage with him, appeared on his albums or co-written songs with him.
"Excluding being taken to the Calum Kennedy Show in The Tivoli, The first gig I attended was in May 1971 at the Cowdray Hall, where the quiet was shattered by the cosmic rock of Hawkwind. A feast for the ears, eyes and even nose, thanks to the aroma of joss-sticks etc.
My first in the more daunting (to a fifteen year old, anyway) Music Hall was on 4th October 1971 to see Yes, supported by the now almost forgotten Jonathan Swift. In those days Rick Wakeman, pre silver cape etc, still seemed cool, and as a Strawbs fan I was keen to hear how their erstwhile keyboardist fitted into the Yes line-up. Very well was the answer.
My own musical taste at the time covered folk and psychedelia, so I was also attending the City Folk Cub to see the likes of Martin Carthy, Anne Briggs, Lizzie Higgins etc, before I was drawn back to the Music Hall on 14th April 1972 for a tour by Curved Air. This saw me play ‘live’ on stage with them….my only live gig in this famous venue. A pal and I were passing the Music Hall in the afternoon, and were roped in to help load amps etc onto the stage by the band’s road crew. Curved Air had toured with Black Sabbath the previous year, so they launched into a version of ‘Paranoid’ during their soundcheck. I had just carried something onstage, so cheekily played along using one finger on the Music Hall grand piano….forunately no-one noticed. We were asked if we would help load the van after the concert, but I passed on that opportunity…..something I regretted the next day when I found out my pal had been given a kiss by Sonja Kristina as a thank you!
Six months later the fabulous line-up of Lindisfarne, Genesis and Rab Noakes delighted a happy audience, myself included…the mix of folk and prog working surprisingly well. Perhaps we were just grateful to see three great acts on the one bill? Within a week Pentangle were the recipients of my paper-round money, and they also pleased immensely, despite having some sound problems with their new Orange PA. I now felt like an old hand at this Music Hall gigs lark and just relaxed and enjoyed myself.
I have attended many, many gigs in The Music Hall over the years including performers such as Tom Paxton, Rory Gallagher, Dr Feelgood, Roger McGuinn, Dave Brubeck, John Martyn,Van Morrison, Elvis Costello (National Union of Seamen Benefit), Jethro Tull, The Fall, Jesus & Mary Chain, The Cramps, Roy Harper etc and look forward to the reopening with anticipation, sure that I’ll see many, many more!"
Thanks to Alan, it's great to hear the memories, and amazing to have seen so many influential bands at the venue. As well as his one perfomance albeit brief at the Music Hall Alan has also played the Lemon Tree many times. For more info on the Kitchen Cynics or to hear some of his music: https://kitchencynics.bandcamp.com/music
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All images (c) Alan Davidson