IT’S BEEN a while since The Bluebells performed live.

It’s been a while since anyone performed live, of course, which is why everyone concerned in bringing one of Scotland’s best indie bands back to the stage, is more than a little bit excited.

Glasgow Times:

“We can’t wait, it will be great to be back performing again,” explains vocalist Ken McCluskey.

“I think most folk have really missed socialising during the lockdown and just getting out and experiencing live music again will be good for the mind and the soul.”

Glasgow Times: The Bluebells at Glasgow Green.Pic: Phil Rider

Ken and his fellow bandmates – his brother David and Robert Hodgens – are opening the new series of Frets Acoustic concerts at the Strathaven Hotel.

It is fitting, as The Bluebells were the last act scheduled to appear before Covid forced everything to shut down last March.

Frets had built up a huge following of Scottish music fans pre-pandemic, thanks to headliners like Lloyd Cole, James Grant and Norman Blake and Euros Childs performing stripped back sets in an off-the-beaten track venue.

Glasgow Times: The Bluebells filming the video to Young at Heart, with Clare Grogan and Stratford Johns

Now, founder Douglas MacIntyre, of Love and Money and the Creeping Bent organisation, is delighted – and relieved – that live music is finally back.

“Everyone is excited,” he smiles, in something of an understatement.

“It has been a very, very hard 18 months for everyone in the music industry.

“We have some great acts lined up for the coming weeks, and we are just looking forward to getting back on track again.”


Future Frets gigs include Robyn Hitchcock, supported by Kevin McDermott, on October 1, Tim Burgess on October 29 and 30 and Hipsway on November 26, plus Roddy Woomble, Grant-Lee Phillips and King Creosote next year.

It all starts with The Bluebells, though, which has sent fans of the band into a social media frenzy in the clamour to get tickets.

The Bluebells shot to fame in the 1980s, with three Top 40 hits - I’m Falling, Cath and their biggest success, the catchy slice of genius that is Young at Heart.

The latter was co-written with Siobhan Fahey of Bananarama (originally recorded on the Bananarama album Deep Sea Skiving) and violinist Bobby Valentino, and made it to number eight in the UK Singles Chart on its original release in 1984.

The video featured well known actors Stratford Johns, Molly Weir and fellow popstar Clare Grogan, who was also riding high at the time with Altered Images.

The Bluebells released one eponymous EP, and one full-length album, Sisters.

After splitting in the mid-80s, the group had a second lease of life in 1993 when Young at Heart was used in a Volkswagen television advert.

Re-issued as a single, it was number one for four weeks and led to the band reforming temporarily to appear on Top of the Pops.

Since then, The Bluebells have popped up on several occasions, supporting Edwyn Collins in 2009, playing the Southside Festival a couple of years later and even appearing in an episode of Still Game.

“Having The Bluebells kick things off is fantastic for us, as they were originally supposed to appear last March,” says Douglas.

“I have seen them many times over the years, from their early Postcard Records period through to their chart-topping period.

“They were always about songs - as recognised by their producer, Elvis Costello - with melodic touchstones like The Monkees, The Lovin’ Spoonful and The Byrds, being complimented by the Bluebells’ roots in punk.”

The Bluebells’ debut album, Sisters, has recently been reissued on the Last Night From Glasgow label, and Douglas believes the timing is right for “a new appreciation of the group.”

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He adds: “We can’t wait to see them perform in acoustic mode within the seated intimate concert environs of the Strathaven Hotel.

“It’ll be special.”

Ken agrees.

“The Strathaven Hotel music room is a warm and intimate venue to start off again after the lockdown,” he says.

“We’re really looking forward to playing an acoustic concert.

“The whole FRETS acoustic concerts idea has really taken off and it will be good to play stripped back versions of the songs and have a wee chat with the audience.”

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