Brian Ferguson: Ryder Cup concert reveals below par music scene

The opening gala concert for the Ryder Cup was a bit of a triumph. Picture: Greg Macvean
The opening gala concert for the Ryder Cup was a bit of a triumph. Picture: Greg Macvean
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IT HAS been niggling away for most of this year, I just didn’t expect the grand old game of golf to help the reality hit home.

First things first. The opening gala concert for the Ryder Cup was a bit of a triumph. What could have been disjointed, cliché-ridden and lost inside the vast Hydro arena was actually a slick, well-produced and attention-holding event that had most of the audience on their feet by the finale.

Admittedly, much of this was down to the considerable coup of landing American disco icon Nile Rodgers for the event at the 12,000 capacity Hydro.

But choosing the Royal Scottish National Orchestra as the lynchpin of the evening, with powerful collaborations from Rodgers, Midge Ure, Amy Macdonald and Texas, proved a minor masterstroke. It was a jolt to be reminded Texas had been formed in 1986, and telling how long many of the other acts on the bill had been around.

The music industry in Scotland, a country that has produced so many timeless pop songs and outstanding bands, has seriously lost its way.

Rod Stewart topping the bill at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony, Big Country performing at celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the Forth Road Bridge and Deacon Blue and Simple Minds headlining the new Party in the Park festival in Linlithgow are a few other examples.

Other bands at the industry’s more cutting edge, including Primal Scream and Mogwai, date from the mid-1980s and mid-1990s respectively.

And when the vast MTV Europe Music Awards event is staged at the Hydro in November, just one Scottish act, DJ Calvin Harris, has a chance of winning anything.

It is pretty striking how many other acts from the 1980s are either making regular appearances on tour – or are reforming to perform classic albums or mark significant anniversaries.

Del Amitri, Love and Money, Aztec Camera and The Bluebells are some recent examples, while the reformed Jesus and Mary Chain will be touring their Psychocandy album around the UK in November.

Even the thriving Celtic music scene has stagnated. In theory, there shouldn’t be a better time to be in a band in Scotland, with the huge growth in the number of regular venues and music festivals.

TV talent shows, combined with a lack of quality music programming, a steep decline in CD sales and fierce competition for attention on social media are all plausible explanations.

When institutions like Avalanche Records, the legendary Edinburgh shop, are closing down and being swiftly replaced by yet another tartan tat shop, something has clearly gone wrong.