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REPORT: Sighthill Stone Circle Concert
Mike Staples , September 2nd, 2013 10:44

Mike Staples, one of the organisers of the recent benefit gig for the Sighthill Stone Circle, reflects back over an ace evening for an excellent cause

Cities thrive on all things diverse, unique, quirky and peculiar. This is true of Glasgow and of the musicians that gathered together at Platform Arts Centre in late July. It is also true of the Stone Circle in Sighthill Park. The rejuvenation of the Sighthill area may be long overdue, but the very presence of the Stone Circle encapsulates much of Glasgow’s spirit and individuality. The ever fascinating Hidden Glasgow. Surely worth fighting to keep. This was, bear in mind, the first astronomically-aligned stone circle to have been built in the UK for over 3500 years.

From this perspective - a fascination with the less obvious facets and assets of a city often shaped by its rough exterior and a recent career working on its urban regeneration – I was drawn to assist the campaign to save the Sighthill Stone Circle. The campaign organisers, having previously published my short stories and being aware of my keen interest in music (primarily via my own act, Lucien’s Ghost), asked that I organise a benefit gig alongside Stuart Braithwaite of post-rock heavyweights Mogwai. This was a prospect I immediately relished. Stuart is fighting a cause close to his heart; his late father, John, was one of the co-creators of the stone circle, alongside designer Duncan Lunan, who has spearheaded the campaign.

Shortly thereafter, I popped the question to Alun Woodward, co-founder of Chemikal Underground who doubles as music programmer at Platform in Easterhouse, and we had a venue. One meeting later, we had a date – July 27. Stuart was checking his way through a mouth-watering list of prospective performers and Turner-nominated artist, David Shrigley, was off designing a poster.

The result was the Concert To Save Sighthill Stone Circle, which drew together a group of performers with many a shared background and ideology – Aidan Moffat, Remember Remember, Eugene Kelly, Emma Pollock, Stuart Braithwaite, RM Hubbert and The Twilight Sad. Between acts, Adele Bethel of Sons and Daughters took to the decks. This campaign appears to have galvanised the creative community, the standing stones being a unique asset, treasured by many, hidden from most, but threatened with ease.

Before a musician took to the stage, from our perspective, the gig was a success. It raised our media profile, public awareness and set the stones firmly into the collective consciousness of the packed crowd. On the night, each of the performers was on sparkling form, each cranking up the intensity, humour and precision in honour of an important cause. Stuart, for many, was the musical highlight of the evening, delivering a blues-ridden set with steely focus. Emma Pollock’s voice soared above her accompanying string quartet, RM Hubbert was buoyant in spirit, performing duets with collaborators from his recent Scottish Album Of The Year-winning LP and a poised Twilight Sad, dark and captivating, brought the night to a fitting close.

At 6 pm, as heavens opened over Glasgow’s East End, temperatures soared inside Platform and the entirely inimitable, reliably provocative Aidan Moffat took to the stage, there was a sense that everything had fallen into place. The crowd was bustling, Platform sounded great and a stellar musical cast was waiting in the wings. The Sighthill Stone Circle is seeking a guaranteed future. After the concert, I hope it will have found its way onto the maps of a few more urban explorers.