Claire Black: Lulu a duff choice for Glasgow 2014

OH GLASGOW 2014, you don’t half make it hard for yourself, writes Claire Black

Lulu is from Glasgow, but so are much more exciting acts. Picture: Getty

Perhaps you’re still a bit discombobulated after that brilliant idea you had about blowing up some high rises blew up in your face? Maybe as you reeled from the criticism, struggling to understand why large scale demolition doesn’t say “celebration!” to anyone but you, it was inevitable that just as the metaphorical dust settled from that gaffe, you’d go and make another.

How else are we to react to the announcement that from the stellar musical talent that has emerged from the glorious city of Glasgow, you have chosen Lulu as the headliner for the opening concert to mark the beginning of the Commonwealth Games. Lulu. Last seen completely failing to get into the spirit of Strictly Come Dancing and being eliminated in week six. I don’t mean to be mean – but Lulu? Headlining? Boom Bang-a What?

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It’s starting to feel as though the opening celebrations for the Games are a singularly spectacular opportunity for Scotland to show that utterly out of touch and, frankly, weird side of ourselves that you only get to know if you watch Scottish TV in the wee small hours. Or at Hogmanay. Lulu. Headlining. In 2014. Was Sydney Devine already booked?

Of course, To Sir With Love is a beautiful ballad, Shout has its place in the pantheon of pop, if for no other reason that it has provided presumably almost every Scot of a certain age the opportunity to scream “Weyeyeyeyellll” at a wedding reception in the miners’ club. I’ll even admit to a begrudging enjoyment of Relight My Fire, with the added frisson of subsequently discovering that Jason Orange got a bit frisky with Lulu, but even that was 20 years ago.

I’m not knocking Lulu’s career. When she toured with The Hollies in 1966 she was the first female British singer to perform live behind the Iron Curtain. Jimi Hendrix appeared on her eponymous BBC programme and she married a Bee Gee. Respect. But that still doesn’t explain why anyone would think she was the right choice to headline the 23 July event. As a decision it’s just about as baffling as believing that a cloud of billowing dust and rubble is a sign of how Glasgow is forward-looking. But it’s made worse when you think of how many brilliant bands have emerged from Glasgow. If you’re fancying a bit of retro stadium rock, I give you Simple Minds. Or mainstream pop, I suggest Texas. If you want proper, only from Glasgow then you’re spoiled for choice – Franz Ferdinand, Sons and Daughters, Chvrches, Camera Obscura, Mogwai. Or Calvin Harris. And if we’re broadening the search further into the musical mainstream, how about Emeli Sandé?

But no, we’ve just stopped short of Fran and Anna. And if you’re tempted to remind me that Shirley Bassey was brilliant at Glastonbury, then just don’t. La Bassey was her inimitable self there, but Lulu is no Shirley Bassey. Never was, never will be.

Chips are down for campaign

JUST when you think social media can’t get any sillier, you are confronted with the image of a Lego-lady in a bikini with an accompanying caption which reveals that £1,400 will pay for an “overseas holiday for two with cash left over for sun cream”. So far, so inexplicable. And then you realise that far from this being some internet daftness akin to all those cat videos and the photobombing squirrel that come in handy when you need a displacement activity to distract you from a looming deadline, it is, in fact, an official communication issued by the UK government. Its purpose is to inform Scots of how they might spend the apparent dividend which they will reap should they reject independence on 18 September. Now, I confess, the outpouring of “don’t come here telling us what to do” outrage that greets every comment made on the topic of the indyref is getting right on my goat. Whatever happens in September, I want to live in a country where debate is encouraged and opinions from all sides are welcome, not some tartan-tinted totalitarian state. That said, being told that £1,400 would allow the lucky recipient to “share a meal of fish and chips with your family every day for around ten weeks, with a couple of portions of mushy peas thrown in” is enough to give even me the dry boak. Don’t they know we don’t even eat mushy peas?

Grassmarket dancing feats

BELTING out A Boy Like That at full tilt in a darkened cinema ranks as one of the high points of my life. Yes, I had what felt like laryngitis for a week after giving it my all at a sing-a-long-a West Side Story screening at Edinburgh’s Filmhouse but it was so very worth it. And now another of my cinematic dreams can come true. I can follow the Yellow Brick Road with Judy and dance along with Fred and Ginger and hand jive with the Pink Ladies. For today in Edinburgh’s Grassmarket Let’s Face the Movies and Dance takes place, free public dance alongside screenings of movies including The Wizard Of Oz, Top Hat and Grease with accompanying dancing organised by Dance Base. Too good to miss. «