July 4, 2008

Five-Star Summer Blockbusters

By Liam Rudden Arts and

EDINBURGH Castle, home of St Margaret's Chapel, the oldest surviving building in the city and of the Honours of Scotland - Scotland's crown jewels.

For one month of the year the ancient fortress is also home to the Castle Concerts, Edinburgh's most prestigious popular music series which, in previous years, has brought a host of legendary names to the Esplanade.

Stars such as the pinball wizard himself, Elton John, the original princess of punk, Blondie and her young pretender, Pink.

Folk hero Paul Simon, football-mad Rod Stewart, Welsh wonder Tom Jones and the Peter Pan of pop Cliff Richard have also headlined at the historic pile.

As have classical boyband Il Divo, James Taylor, Lionel Ritchie and Westlife - twice.

Later this month the 2008 Castle Concerts bring five more acts to the Capital. Here is The Guide's Guide to five nights that promise to be highlights of Edinburgh's music calendar.

wednesday july 16:

leonard cohen

FIRST he took Manhattan then he took Berlin, now legendary Canadian singer-songwriter, poet and novelist Leonard Cohen has his sights set on Edinburgh Castle - and despite selling out you could still be there. Read on.

Opening this year's series of Castle Concerts, the melan-cholic star, famous for hits such as Suzanne and Hallelujah, makes his first Scottish appearance in 28 years. It's a signing that caused promoter Mark Mackie, to comment, "If you ask anyone in the music industry, everyone tips their hat to Leonard Cohen - he is up there as a god."

Born on September 21, 1934 in Westmount, Quebec, Cohen began life as a poet and writer - his first book of poems, Let Us Compare Mythologies, was published in Montreal in 1956 and his first novel in 1963.

Four years later he released the album, Songs of Leonard Cohen, an album that garnered him a cult following in the UK.

His work, which often explores the themes of religion, isolation, sexuality, and complex interpersonal relationships have influenced many singer-songwriters over the decades - in March, Jeff Buckley's version of Cohen's Hallelujah went to No 1 on the iTunes chart after being performed by Jason Castro on the reality TV show American Idol. A few days later, Cohen himself was inducted into the American Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in recognition of his status among the 'highest and most influential echelon of songwriters'. That the 73- year-old's fanbase has not diminished with age was evident earlier this year. After the initial allocation of tickets for the gig sold out tickets began to be touted at more than seven times their face value. With a face value of GBP 50 some were being sold online for up to GBP 388 each.

A limited number of production tickets will be released for sale today, visit www.ticketmaster. co.uk FRIDAY JULY 18:

BOYZONE - See Pages 12-13

saturday july 19: the proclaimers

CHARLIE and Craig Reid were born on March 5, 1962, but then everyone knows they are twins.

The pair's Castle Concert will mark the culmination of a busy year for the brothers who intend to spend the rest of the year off the road, writing new material.

"We are delighted to be playing this truly unique venue," said Craig when the gig was announced, and so too were their fans. Where better to hear such anthemic hits than Letter from America, I'm on My Way, and I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) - the theme song for the 1993 film Benny & Joon and Red Nose Day 2007.

Brought up in Auchtermuchty, Fife the twins formed The Proclaimers in 1983, coming to public attention after an appearance on Channel Four's late night music show The Tube in 1987.

Both Hibs fans, their song Sunshine on Leith has become a theme song for the club, as well as the title of a musical based on their songs (catch it over Christmas at the Festival Theatre).

No stranger to arena gigs, The Proclaimers were the opening act at Edinburgh 50,000: The Final Push, the final concert of Live8 at Murrayfield Stadium.


bros: Charlie, left, and Craig Reid on their home patch

friday july 25: girls aloud

Pop queens of the Castle

GIRLS ALOUD have rarely been out of the news since appearing on the ITV talent show Popstars: The Rivals in 2002.

Five-piece Cheryl Cole (nee Tweedy), Nadine Coyle, Sarah Harding, Nicola Roberts and Kimberley Walsh are now one of the most successful British pop groups of the decade.

The band, who hold the record for the shortest time between formation and reaching No 1 in the UK, were also listed in the 2007 Guinness Book of World Records as Most Successful Reality TV Group.

They also hold the record for the Most Consecutive Top Ten Entries in the UK by a Female Group: the band have scored 18 consecutive Top 10s from Sound of the Underground in 2002 through to Can't Speak French, which reached No 9 in March.

Expect to hear Something Kinda Ooooh, I Think We're Alone Now, Walk This Way and many more.

Mark Mackie promises the gig will be "the night that the Castle goes pop," adding, "We are delighted to be bringing one of the all- time great girl bands to the Castle. They put on a fantastic show and this will have a wide appeal."

Their addition to the 2008 Castle Concerts even caused a excited Historic Scotland spokesperson to comment enthus-iastically, "Girls Aloud adds a sprinkle of girl-led glitterati glamour to the line-up on the Esplanade this summer.

"With the Scottish crown jewels being the original bling, I'm sure the girls will be interested in a tour round the crown room."

A limited number of production tickets will be released for sale today. For details visit www.ticketmaster.co.uk

GIRLS ALOUD: Cheryl, Nadine, Sarah, Nicola and Kimberley bring their unique brand of girl-band pop glamour to the Esplanade on July 25

saturday july 26: runrig

Scots legends Runrig return for third time

The legendary Scottish band return to the Castle for a third time having been one of the first bands to sell out the venue back in 1991 - they also played the Esplanade in 1993.

The gig will be Runrig's first Capital performance for nearly seven years, and Barry Wright, director of Castle Concerts, is 'delighted' that the band have signed up to bring this year's series to a close.

"Runrig are a Scottish legend," he says. "Over the years we have taken them from Stirling Castle to the banks of Loch Lomond, from Orkney to Hawick, from Benbecula to Dumfries - there is no part of Scotland Runrig don't reach. And now they are playing Edinburgh Castle in what we hope will be yet another special evening for fans."

Arguably Scotland's biggest band in the 1990s, the folk-rock outfit was founded by brothers Rory and Calum MacDonald and their friend Blair Douglas in 1973 in the Hebrides. Singer Donnie Munro joined the following year.

Runrig's first album, Play Gaelic, was released in 1978 but it was on their second album, The Highland Connection, released a year later, that the original version of Loch Lomond - their signature song which closes their concerts . . . and most Scottish wedding receptions - can be found. A track they re-recorded in 1982.

In 1997, lead singer Donnie Munro left the band for a career in politics and was replaced with Canadian singer-songwriter Bruce Guthro.

A limited number of production tickets will be released for sale today visit www. ticketmaster. co.uk

HISTORY BOYS: Runrig at the Castle in 1993

Originally published by Liam Rudden Arts and Entertainment Editor.

(c) 2008 Evening News; Edinburgh (UK). Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.