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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...


Review: Sweeney Todd at Dundee Rep

May 24 2010

Artistic director James Brining's latest show is a big, bold, beautiful production in which every element combines to maximum effect. Forget Edinburgh, Glasgow or London's west end here on the banks of the Tay is a production of a musical that is up there among the best. This production of Stephen Sondheim's musical thriller is the latest in a series of ambitious projects undertaken by the Rep in which they have excelled. Sweeney Todd is an enormous undertaking for the Rep, with a cast of 16 and a 10-strong band, but it pays off as at times the power of the piece comes at the audience like a theatrical force-field. Sondheim was inspired by Christopher Bond's play which took the tale of the demon barber from melodrama to something much richer. Sweeney was not just a man with bloodlust but a once-decent victim of injustice. Angela Hardie, one of the departing graduates, is revealed as having a beautiful singing voice as Johanna, Sweeney's lost daughter. It is invidious to single out individuals since all the performers are at the top of their game supported by the band under MD Hilary Brooks, who take on the vagaries of Sondheim's music with brio. Probably best known is The Ballad Of Sweeney Todd, which interweaves the action. Part of the fascination of Sondheim's work is to see how the same song can be used in different ways to underline the change of mood as the action gets blacker and the music gets edgier. Sweeney Todd runs until June 12 get your tickets quickly.

Angus & The Mearns

Bon Scott joins icons at Kirriemuir gallery

April 30 2016

Scottish rock legend Bon Scott joined a “pantheon” of stars including Keith Richards, Bob Dylan — and Oor Wullie — at an Angus art exhibition. Kirriemuir’s 10th annual celebration of Bon and AC/DC, Bonfest, kicked off in rebellious style with a host of bands on Friday night. A permanent tribute to the former frontman, who died tragically in 1980 as the global phenomenon was just beginning, will be unveiled in his home town this afternoon. And the rock icon has now been immortalised as a piece of pop art. Artist Robert McSpadyen was approached to frame Bon in technicolour screen print, a format he has used to encapsulate the essence of stars such as Lee Marvin, Ava Gardner and Shirley MacLaine. Mr McSpadyen, 43, is a member of Glasgow Print Studio and creates prints which reflect his own pop cultural and cinematic preoccupations and obsessions. A selection of his work is now on display alongside Bon at the town’s Bank Street Gallery, and sales of Bon prints will support the work of DD8 Music, the music-driven youth project behind Bonfest. “I work in screen printing, as that suits the style of the characters I like – brash and bold,” he said. “I stick to working with the influences I have, and Bon fits in with that whole pantheon of rock and roll legends. “Bon and the Young brothers (musicians Angus, Malcolm and producer George) were all from Scotland before they emigrated to Australia, and so were a big part of what you could call Scotland’s biggest band. “It’s only fitting that there’s a statue getting unveiled here.” Gallery owner Susie Clark said she is “delighted” to host a first-of-its-kind artwork. “Robert is building a shrine to a deeply personal pantheon of the late 20th century's sharpest icons,” she said. The Bank Street Gallery exhibition runs until June 10. This year’s Bonfest sees the evening gigs played in a big top on the town’s south side. Last night’s headline band was the all-female quintet BACK:N:BLACK, supported by Reddog, and The Ruckus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDOeDSlvn_U This followed a day of live music around the town’s pubs and a re-enactment of the AC/DC video Long Way to the Top by German band Bon: The AC/DC Show on the back of a vintage vehicle. Today, the statue of Bon will be officially unveiled in Bellies Brae at 1pm by special guests Mark Evans, Mary Renshaw, Tony Currenti and Bob Richards. BON The AC/DC Show is tonight’s featured act, supported by Ferus Cane and The Smokin' Bugler Band. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eIVtTi0_5QI Mark Evans played bass on four Bon-era albums and will give a talk and Q&A about his time in the band at 1pm tomorrow in Kirriemuir Town Hall. Former AC/DC drummer Tony Currenti will play tomorrow night, performing the entirety of the High Voltage album with Pure/DC. Mary Renshaw will also appear and discuss her book about Bon, entitled Live Wire.

Angus & The Mearns

“It’s hard to believe it will be 42 years between lorry trips” — AC/DC legend to recreate famous video in Kirrie

March 17 2018

It remains one of the most famous videos in music history. AC/DC, complete with bagpipers, played ‘It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock and Roll)’ on the back of a flatbed truck down Swanston Street in Melbourne in February 1976. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-sUXMzkh-jI Lead singer Bon Scott displayed his prowess on the pipes in a nod to his Scottish heritage in the historic video alongside bandmates Angus Young, Malcolm Young, Mark Evans and Phil Rudd. Former AC/DC bass player Evans has now agreed to take part in a re-enactment for the first time in 42 years in Scott’s hometown of Kirriemuir at this year's BonFest. Evans will be stepping back in time on a truck with German band ‘Bon: The AC/DC Show’ at the annual rock festival which celebrates the late singer. “It’s hard to believe it will be 42 years between lorry trips,” Evans told The Courier. “I can’t wait to get back to Kirriemuir. “My last visit was to help to unveil Bon’s statue at Bonfest 2016 so I am looking forward to returning for Bonfest 2018 to celebrate in true Scots’ fashion. “I’m a fifth generation Aussie with no real ties to Scotland but from the moment I set foot in Scotland in 1976 with AC/DC I have always felt at home and I always will I’m sure. “It’s going to be a blast joining ‘Bon: The AC/DC Show’ on the back of the lorry traversing Kirriemuir in Bon’s home town. “It will be a real experience for sure - lots of joy but I am certain that it will be very poignant also.” Evans said he suggested pipes for the song and Scott told him he used to play in a pipe band and went off to buy a set of bagpipes. “So into the studio Bon went with the pipes and I can’t quite describe the noise that came from a very proud Bon and his pipes but it was obvious he was a tad out of touch,” he said. “George Young asked Bon: ‘I thought you said you played in a pipe band?’ to which he replied: ‘I did play in a pipe band - I was a drummer!’” This year’s 13th annual BonFest takes place for three days and three wild nights over the weekend of May 4-6. Festival chairman John Crawford said: “The organisation team are always looking for new ways to improve the festival and enhance the experience for our guests. “What better way to do that than having an original member of AC/DC’s It’s a Long Way to the Top video taking part in the re-enactment 42 years later? “We have an incredible line up this year which includes current AC/DC drummer Chris Slade and his Time Line band along with a host of top class acts in the main arena. “With free live music during the day and the main arena gig at night BonFest is quickly becoming a mecca for the global ACDC fan base.” AC/DC have not performed the song live since Scott’s death in 1980 out of respect. They last performed the song with him on December 17 1979 at the Hammersmith Odeon in London.

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

Audi’s Q2 was one of the first premium compact SUVs on the market. It sits below the Q3, Q5 and the gigantic, seven seat Q7 in Audi’s ever growing range. Although it’s about the same size as the Nissan Juke or Volkswagen T-Roc, its price is comparable with the much larger Nissan X-Trail or Volkswagen Tiguan. Even a basic Q2 will set you back more than £21,000 and top whack is £38,000. Then there’s the options list which is extensive to say the least. My 2.0 automatic diesel Quattro S Line model had a base price of £30,745 but tipped the scales at just over £40,000 once a plethora of additions were totted up. Size isn’t everything, however. In recent years there’s been a trend of buyers wanting a car that’s of premium quality but compact enough to zip around town. It may be a step down in size but the Q2 doesn’t feel any less classy than the rest of Audi’s SUV range. The interior looks great and is user friendly in a way that more mainstream manufacturers have never been able to match. The simple rotary dial and shortcut buttons easily trounce touchscreen systems, making it a cinch to skim through the screen’s menus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eQ5p5Z7-Ek&list=PLUEXizskBf1nbeiD_LqfXXsKooLOsItB0 There’s a surprising amount of internal space too. I took three large adults from Dundee to Stirling and no one complained about feeling cramped. As long as you don’t have a tall passenger behind a tall driver you can easily fit four adults. At 405 litres the boot’s big too – that’s 50 litres more than a Nissan Juke can muster. Buyers can pick from 1.0 and 1.4 litre petrol engines or 1.6 and 2.0 litre TDIs. Most Q2s are front wheel drive but Audi’s Quattro system is standard on the 2.0 diesel, as is a seven-speed S Tronic gear box. On the road there’s a clear difference between this and SUVs by manufacturers like Nissan, Seat and Ford. Ride quality, while firm, is tremendously smooth. Refinement is excellent too, with road and tyre noise kept out of the cabin. It sits lower than the Q3 or Q5 and this improves handling, lending the Q2 an almost go-kart feel. On a trip out to Auchterhouse, with plenty of snow still on the ground, I was appreciative of the four-wheel drive as well. The Q2 is expensive – though there are some good finance deals out there – but you get what you pay for. Few cars this small feel as good as the Q2 does. Price: £30,745 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds Top speed: 131mph Economy: 58.9mpg CO2 emissions: 125g/km

Angus & The Mearns

Bonfest brings pilgrims to rock Angus

August 18 2014

Kirriemuir rocked over a weekend that saw Angus once again seal its place in the heart of AC/DC fans from across the globe. An influx of hundreds for the annual Bonfest commemoration of baker’s son Bon Scott who went on to become the dynamic front man of the legendary rock group, before his untimely death in 1980 aged just 33 saw pubs and shops in the town enjoying bumper trade as the community welcomed visitors from as far afield as Moscow. The main sell-out concerts took place in Kirriemuir Town Hall, with ex-AC/DC drummer Chris Slade among those on stage. Bon Fest organiser Graham Galloway said the event had once again been a massive hit. Dedication to the band and enthusiasm for the Angus event are typified by German fans Melanie Zilch and Melanie Pfueffer, making their latest pilgrimage to Angus in a growing love affair with the wee red town. They have been coming to Kirriemuir for several years, the first time on a tour bus from Frankfurt, and said the welcome was one of the main attractions of Bonfest. “One part of it is obviously Bonfest, because we love the music, but the other part is definitely the people who live here and the AC/DC family from all over the world who come to this,” they said. “Everyone is so welcoming and when you come here each year you meet new friends.” This year’s event was extra special for the women after a chance conversation in 2013 led to them being able to stay in a house on Bon Scott Place a development in the town named in honour of the musician. “Where better to stay for Bonfest?” Melanie Zilch said. Bon Scott Place is also the home to the new Kirrie Ales micro-brewery run by local man Colin McIlraith, whose range of special ales produced for the event proved a huge hit. Stocks of the Fruity Wee Blonde, Bon’s Best and Big Rosie Lager that were on offer at a pop-up shop on Bank Street, set up with Peel Farm at Lintrathen, went down a treat with the fans of the band. “We didn’t know how things would go but we’ve been really pleased with the response,” Colin said as the last of his stocks flew off the shelves. “It’s been an opportunity to let people taste our beers and hopefully enjoy what Kirrie Ales produces. “We’re quite new and at the moment it’s a small sideline alongside my full-time day job. But it’s been a great weekend.”

UK & World

This student took his Tinder profile to the next level by turning it into a PowerPoint presentation

February 21 2018

Standing out from the crowd on Tinder can be tough, but with the help of Microsoft PowerPoint a British student has managed just that – and gone viral in the process.Sam Dixey, a 21-year-old studying at Leeds University, made a six-part slideshow entitled “Why you should swipe right” – using pictures and bullet points to shrewdly persuade potential dates to match with him on the dating app. The slideshow includes discussion of his social life and likes, such as “petting doggos” and “laser tag”, and “other notable qualities and skills” – such as being “not the worst at sex” and “generous when drunk”.It even has reviews mocked up from sources such as “Donald Trump”, “Leonardo Di Capri Sun” and “The Times Guide to Pancakes 2011”.Sam told the Press Association the six-slide presentation only took about 20 minutes to make and “started off as a joke”.However, since being posted to Twitter by fellow Tinder user Gracie Barrow, Sam’s slideshow has been shared tens of thousands of times across social media.So, it’s got the seal of approval form Gracie, but how has the slideshow fared on Tinder? “I’d have to say it has been pretty successful,” Sam said. “Definitely a clear correlation of matches and dates beforehand to afterwards.“Most of the responses tend to revolve around people saying ‘I couldn’t help swipe right 10/10’ but I’ve had some people go the extra mile and message me on Facebook.“Plus some people have recognised me outside, in the library and on dates.”A resounding success.


Richard Burton’s ex-wife Sybil Christopher dies aged 83

March 14 2013

Theatre producer and nightclub founder Sybil Christopher, the woman Richard Burton left to marry Elizabeth Taylor, has died at 83. Welsh-born Ms Christopher was Sybil Burton when Burton, her first husband, left her for Taylor in 1963. She left California for New York, where she opened a nightclub in 1965 with backing from famous friends like Julie Andrews and Leonard Bernstein. The club, called Arthur, became a celebrity hangout and turned Ms Christopher into a post-divorce success story. She married Jordan Christopher, the lead singer of the club’s house band, in 1966. Ms Christopher founded the Bay Street Theatre in 1991 with two partners and was its artistic director for 22 years. Ms Christopher, who is survived by three daughters, including actress Kate Burton, died in New York City.

UK & World

Actor Sir Christopher Lee dies aged 93

June 11 2015

Tributes have been paid to veteran actor Sir Christopher Lee who has reportedly died aged 93. The star, who appeared in a string of horror films and played a Bond villain in The Man With The Golden Gun, enjoyed a career renaissance playing Saruman in the Lord Of The Rings films. His agent declined to confirm the news, saying only that his family wished to make no comment. He never stopped working and only last year marked his 92nd birthday byreleasing a heavy metal version of the Frank Sinatra classic My Way. It was one of seven tracks on an album called Metal Knight he recorded with an Italian band called Rhapsody Of Fire. Two years ago he was honoured with a fellowship from the British Film Institute presented by his friend Johnny Depp. Depp, who has worked with Sir Christopher on several Tim Burton projects including Sleepy Hollow, sneaked into the awards ceremony to surprise his friend. Sir Christopher has amassed more than 250 screen credits, including his vampire appearances, his role as sinister Lord Summerisle in The Wicker Man and his collaborations with Burton. He has often said that his title role in Jinnah, about the founder of Pakistan, is one of his favourite portrayals.


Doctor Who audioplay sees Churchill fighting Nazis on city streets

February 26 2018

Doctor Who, Winston Churchill and the author of James Bond will have a shootout with some Nazis outside the McManus gallery. Or at least they will in a new audio play about the famous Timelord, written by Tardis-obsessed author Iain McLaughlin. The play's action takes place during the Second World War and sees the former Dundee MP Winston Churchill team up with Lieutenant Fleming – who may or may not be the creator of 007 – and the ninth doctor, who was portrayed on screen by actor Christopher Eccleston. At one point, Churchill whiles away the time by reading a copy of The Beano – a publication writer Iain used to edit. Iain, who has written the play as part of a wider series called the Churchill Years Volume Two, said: "Churchill goes on a night-time car chase through the city centre as he tries to escape Nazis, before having a shoot-out on Trades Lane. "He also commandeers an office in a large sandstone building at the head of Reform Street, where he is visited by the Ninth Doctor. "Ian McNiece plays Churchill in the story and there is a Lieutenant Fleming, who may or may not be James Bond’s creator Ian Fleming. "There is even a scene of Churchill reading a Beano, probably in the Beano Office. It was a little self indulgent but, why not?" The play is filled with links and references to Dundee, according to writer Iain. DC Thomson's Meadowside building, one time home of The Beano and current  headquarters of The Courier, is acknowledged as the large sandstone building at the top of Reform Street. Winston Churchill, the prime minister who led Britain out of the Second World War, was MP in Dundee for more than 14 years. He was elected in 1908 on a Liberal Party ticket, but became unpopular in the city for a number of reasons, according to historians. Further to this, James Bond author Ian Fleming's family hailed from the city, his paternal grandfather having been born in a Victorian slum in 1845. Robert Fleming attained a scholarship at Dundee High School, before setting himself up as an investment trust manager after a brief spell as a clerk in Baxter Bros jute mill.