Brian Ferguson: After the festivals, the Ryder Cup

There are a few questions that pop up regularly on my travels around Edinburgh’s festivals each summer, the most common one: “What’s the best thing you’ve seen?”

DF Concerts chief Geoff Ellis is responsible for the Ryder Cup opening concert. Picture: Greg Macvean

I’m still processing the 40-odd performances seen over the past month or so, but for sheer power, I thought it would be hard to beat the experience of a front-row seat for the Janis Joplin biopic which was staged inside a tiny venue in Bristo Place, but a few days later, in the sublime surroundings of St Giles’ Cathedral, I saw an extraordinary and dramatic piece of musical theatre, inspired by Scotland’s Gaelic song heritage, performed by an avant garde Polish company, Return to the Voice.

Then there was the privilege of being among an audience of around 50 at Summerhall watching Peter Howson create a remarkable portrait of Richard Demarco in less than a hour.

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And a fortnight on from catching all of The James Plays, Rona Munro’s trilogy bringing to life the turmoil of 15th century Scotland, I believe that in terms of their sheer scale and imaginative staging, they are up there with anything I’ve seen in Edinburgh over the years.

I was reflecting on the hugely different experiences these shows offered on return from a fascinating briefing with Geoff Ellis, a man used to dealing with events on an entirely different scale.

His next big gig will be far removed from the 3,000-odd shows that have unfolded in Edinburgh over the past few weeks – and if Ellis has his way it will surpass them all.

The chief executive of DF Concerts, the promoters best known for their running of T in the Park over the past 20 years, reckons he has taken on his biggest ever challenge in the form of the curtain-raiser concert to welcome the Ryder Cup to Scotland next month.

Ellis was at pains to point out the opening concert will be aimed more at those who have paid up to £55 for a ticket rather than the global TV audience.

The line-up is interesting, with singers like Amy Macdonald, Midge Ure, Jake Bugg and Eddi Reader on the bill with the National Theatre of Scotland, Scottish Ballet and Scottish Opera.

The 12,000 capacity Hydro arena is a world away from the usual venues used by these national performing companies and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, who will be playing with several of the main acts, including the disco legend Nile Rodgers.

It will be interesting to see how many golf fans turn out for the event, even if they have little interest in the music, just to hail their sporting heroes.

Seeing these companies make the transition to a cavernous arena for what is set to be their biggest ever chance in the limelight should make it nothing less than fascinating.