Locked down Perth Concert Hall was rocked by a rare live performance, as musicians got together to mark one year since venues across Scotland were forced to close their doors.
Singer/songwriter Ian McLaren was joined on stage by other local artists for a poignant recording of his new song Keep Going Together.
The track was commissioned as part of a commemorative project by Horesecross Arts, to mark the 365 day milestone since the pandemic brought the country to a standstill.
Band members – including Stuart Nisbet, Pete Honeyman, Matt Rodgers, Alan Sutherland, Ali Pibworth and Katie Whitaker – were kept at a safe distance throughout the recording and protected by plastic screens. They played to an empty autitorium.
Ian, who said he has written about 80 songs during lockdown, said: “It was such a nice feeling to be back on a stage with other musicians – albeit with all the safe measures in place.
“Once the song was written, we did all our rehearsals separately, so this was the first time we’d got together as a band.”
Ian began work on a significant body of songs following the loss of his wife Susan after a serious illness a year ago.
Some of the songs, such as the timely Isolation Blues, were featured on Horsecross’s online blog which was created to keep people connected with local culture.
“They approached me to write a song to mark one year of lockdown,” he said. “I wanted to tell a story about what everyone has been missing, both from the view of audiences and musicians.
“It looks back on what has been a very difficult year, but its also optimistic and forward looking, looking at how we have all kept each other going and how there’s now light at the end of the tunnel.”
He said: “Although everyone has been very innovative during lockdown, all these streaming concerts are still quite a solitary experience. Watching a broadcast and scrolling down the page to read the comments is not the same as having an audience in front of you, with people smiling and clapping.”
Ian added: “What struck me is that there is such a strong community amongst musicians in Perthshire, and that community has proved very resilient and has really supported each other throughout all of this.”
Keep Going Together
“Since then, every day without fail, the team has posted moments of culture and community for our audiences and friends to discover while they can’t enjoy live performances in our buildings.
“365 days without live shows in Perth Concert Hall or Perth Theatre is not a milestone that we ever wished to reach, but we felt it important to mark the moment to highlight the fact that we are still here, there is light at the end of the tunnel and we will be back.
“Ian’s song highlights the remarkable resilience of our audiences and gives a message of hope for the future when we’ll be sharing live performances together again.
“While we work towards that point, we’ll continue to connect with each other through our blog and online as we, and many others, have done throughout the year.”
Since March 2020, the ‘Keep Going Together’ blog has reached over 500,000 people and has looked at the online work the venues are doing, children’s activities, debated history’s greatest composers, showcased actors performing their favourite monologues, and look at local musicians and events.