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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…


Primal Scream back on tour

November 25 2016

Primal Scream are back out on tour again, and playing some unusual venues. Having had to cancel a host of summer dates due to Bobby Gillespie’s accident – they missed out on several European and UK festivals and gigs when he fell from the stage and injured his back – since late summer the band have been back doing what they do best, playing incendiary shows to promote their new record. They’re at Kilmarnock’s Grand Hall tonight, followed by The Alhambra in Dunfermline tomorrow. Those gigs follow The Ironworks in Inverness and Motherwell’s Concert Hall earlier this week. Relatively backwater venues in the grand gigging scheme, but the fact Primal Scream are playing places usually ignored by touring acts is typical of this most untypical band. That approach mirrors lead singer Bobby Gillespie’s attitude to songwriting: keep moving on, never stand still, explore new avenues. Their latest single Feeling Like A Demon Again is a simmering synth pop anthem which delves into areas previously untouched by Primal Scream. It’s released on the band’s own First International label (through Ignition Records) and is taken from their critically acclaimed 11th studio album Chaosmosis, which was written and produced by Bobby, Andrew Innes and Bjorn Yttling. Recorded in London, New York & Stockholm, critics agree that Chaosmosis is the freshest sounding album the band have ever made. The ten songs that make up the album are by turns angry and euphoric, personal and political, sounding like the distillation of so much that has come before plus a shot into the future. The exhilarating first single Where The Light Gets In features a duet with Sky Ferreira. Other guests on the album include Haim on backing vocals, good friends of the band since playing with them at Glastonbury two summers ago and Rachel Zeffira from Cat’s Eyes. Guest musicians aside, Primal Scream are never deflected from their traditional “write songs first then present them to the band” approach. Bobby Gillespie says: “We work more like artists than a rock band – jamming with a whole band to write songs is not our way. “We’ll have tracks full of riffs and ideas, which Andrew and I will work up together, putting one thing with another to create a song. We work very instinctively – we go with what feels right.” At the same time, Bobby is urging his audience to recognise that while Chaosmosis is a record written in the shadow of hard times, it’s not overtly political. “The current political climate is deeply upsetting and we’re aware of it and opposed to it and we’d like to see something different,” says Gillespie. “It can sound an angry record, but it’s also quite a personal record. I want to write about real situations, things I feel strongly about. But I also think the music’s becoming clearer … the lyrics are clearer. “We’re better at letting things flow. Whereas 20 years ago it was f*****g painful trying to make a Primal Scream record, it was like hell. I’m clearer-headed now, I’m better expressing my feelings and what I want to say. “I’m trying to make sense of my life, of the world and I’m trying to put it into a pop song.” Collaborations and some clear influences put aside, the band has admitted: “we could try and be cool … but at the same time, we always loved the Stylistics or Tina Charles. “The history of pop music is in our DNA.” Try and pinpoint them further, and the nearest for this record you’ll come is Siouxsie and the Banshees. “We loved those records when we were teenagers, songs like Happy House or Spellbound, because they were great pop songs, but there was something dark and twisted about them as well. I think this record has a similar attitude. “Art, politics, music … the people I love are the people who care about something, who care about beauty,” says Gillespie. “That’s what we’re trying to do here. And this album is beautiful.” www.alhambradunfermline.com

UK & World

Edinburgh reveals line-up for Hogmanay street party

October 28 2011

Primal Scream, Bombay Bicycle Club, Friendly Fires and Mark Ronson are the stars of this year’s Edinburgh Hogmanay celebrations. Along with a world-class line-up for Scotland’s flagship street party, organisers have also ensured a traditional Scottish presence with Celtic superheroes Peatbog Faeries together with Capercaillie. And for the first time Edinburgh has teamed up with Citylink Buses to offer late-night transport home from the party to Dunfermline, Kirkcaldy, St Andrews, Dundee and Perth and Kinross. Primal Scream will perform their Screamadelica set along with other greatest hits, supported by Bombay Bicycle Club. The Cuban Brothers bring a world music aspect and are joined by Fringe sell-outs Frisky & Mannish completing the headline acts for four of the five stages along Princes Street. Scottish up-and-coming alt-country band Kassidy, X-Factor’s Jade Richards and Radio 1 DJs Jaymo & Andy George are also there. Organisers are keeping another surprise up their sleeve with a ”sensational” indie headline act for the Waverley Stage to be announced in early November. Over 80,000 revellers from around the world are expected to enjoy the party, with giant screens, outdoor bars and the countdown to the midnight moment. Tickets and registrations for all events are available at edinburghshogmanay.com.

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


Sex secrets of man’s closest primate relative reveal rules of the mating game

March 4 2011

Man’s closest primate relative has been found to indulge in bisexual relationships and scream louder when mating with a high-ranking member of their group. Bonobos, a sister species of chimpanzees, are already known to use sex for social as well as reproductive purposes. A new study by researchers at St Andrews University also suggests that females of the species produce copulation calls as a way off showing off high-powered relationships. Psychologists who were studying vocal communication in apes observed female primates mating with males and other females. Researcher Zanna Clay explained, “During mating events females of many primate species produce loud and distinct vocalisations known as copulation calls, which are considered to promote the caller’s reproductive success. “Female bonobos are unusual amongst the non-human apes in terms of their heightened socio-sexuality. We found that female bonobos engaged in frequent sexual interactions with both males and other females, while producing copulation calls in both contexts. “However, during same-sex mating calls were always given by the lower-ranking partner, while the likelihood of calling increased with the partner’s rank, regardless of the partner’s gender. Our results highlight the social significance of sex in this species and suggest that copulation calls in bonobos have undergone an evolutionary transition from a purely reproductive function to a more general social function. “Like humans, sex among bonobos is not only used for reproduction, but it is also important in friendships and bonding, and keeping close to those in power.” Results of the study are published in science journal Biology Letters. Photo by Flickr user LaggedOnUser.


Scottish talent set for Edinburgh’s Hogmanay party

October 8 2013

A host of Scottish bands are to perform at this year’s Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations. Mercury Prize nominees Django Django, Chvrches, The Rezillos and King Creosote are among the acts to play at the 21st annual street party in the capital. Organisers expect about 80,000 people to attend the event. The acts announced so far will perform on the Waverley Stage, with further performers set to be announced when the full programme is published next month. Councillor Steve Cardownie said: ‘Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Street Party is renowned the world over as being the place to be at New Year and I’m delighted that this year we have such a strong contingent of Scottish artists who are going to help kick off 2014 with a bang.” Previous headliners include Simple Minds, Primal Scream, Biffy Clyro and Blondie. The party traditionally ends with a performance of Auld Lang Syne and midnight fireworks from the ramparts of Edinburgh Castle. Pete Irvine, director of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, said: “Scotland’s big year starts here and what better way to launch ourselves into the New Year than with a showcase of Scotland’s musical talent here in the home of Hogmanay. “Edinburgh’s Hogmanay will once again be the best New Year party on the planet this year with a strong Scottish flavour – whether you’re from Scotland or much further afield, come and join us to welcome 2014.”


Fife care home choir looking to raise more than smiles

December 21 2013

The Matthew Fyfe Care Home Choir is releasing a Christmas CD of their favourite songs and selling it to raise funds. The residents’ choir, named the Combovers, was developed because music is an excellent therapy for people with dementia. The choir brings joy and laughter to the whole house and it is clear that singing has a huge positive effect on some of the service users. Audrey McIvor, a member of staff who runs the choir, said: “I really enjoy seeing the smiles and delight on the service users faces when they sing. “They are able to focus on the music and remember all the words fluently, which is sometimes very difficult to achieve in conversation. “But most importantly it creates the biggest smiles you would ever witness. I feel proud and fulfilled to be able to stimulate and encourage our service users and share their happiness. “Families have been very supportive and the service users take the choir very seriously.” Rosyth recording station, Substation, who have worked with bands such as Primal Scream and Nazareth, donated a recording session. The Substation crew visited Matthew Fyfe with all their equipment and turned their lounge into a professional-looking recording studio. The CD costs £4.

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.


Huge Jam In The Park music festival planned for Dundee

April 24 2013

Dundee could host a huge open-air live music festival, with around 26,000 people over two days watching some of the UK’s top bands at Camperdown Park. Jam In The Park, which will be run along the lines of the Radio 1 Big Weekend, could see two massive tents holding a total of 12,000 paying customers, plus 1,000 “VIP guests” each day over the October holiday weekend. With their local connections, The View will undoubtedly be among the acts being sought by the organisers. An application to the city council to host the event has been received from event organisers JAM Promotions and is due to go before the licensing committee next week. If successful with the application, the organisers are aiming big, naming the likes of Primal Scream, KT Tunstall, Amy MacDonald, The Fratellis, Average White Band and Paloma Faith as among those acts they would like to attract to Dundee. A spokesman for JAM Promotions confirmed they have been working with city council officers and police, fire and ambulance services on the proposal and hope to have their application rubber-stamped by the licensing committee on Thursday May 2. A Dundee City Council spokesman said: “An application for a public entertainment licence has been received and it will be considered by the licensing committee in due course.”

Motoring news

Join the queue for littlest Audi Q

November 9 2016

Audi’s relentless release of new models continues with the launch of its smallest SUV. The Q2 goes on sale in the UK next week with prices starting at £22,380. There’s an extensive selection of petrol and diesel power trains as well as the option of front or Quattro four-wheel drive. More models will be added to the range later on, including powerful SQ2 and RSQ2 versions. Aimed squarely at a younger audience, the Q2 has bolder, sharper lines and a different shape to Audi’s bigger SUVs, the Q3, Q5 and Q7. Although it’s clearly meant more for buzzing around cities than growling across farmland, cladding and skid plates lend it an aura of ruggedness. Audi is also offering a range of vibrant colours to deepen the Q2’s appeal to youthful buyers. The interior is as plush as you’d expect from Audi, justifying its price hike over similarly sized SUVs like the Nissan Juke and Honda HR-V. The materials are high quality – softtouch plastics, leather on higher spec cars and brushed aluminium trim elements all blended into a smart-looking package. As standard, drivers get a seven-inch infotainment screen on top of the dashboard. It’s operated through Audi’s rotary dial system that’s far more intuitive and easier to use when on the move than rivals’ touchscreen systems. Among the many options is Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit – a 12.3in screen that replaces the manual instruments behind the steering wheel. Overall, the Q2 is 4.7in shorter than the A3 hatchback, but Audi says there’s enough leg and headroom for two adult passengers in the back. Boot space comes in at 405 litres – 50 more than you’ll find in the A3 hatchback and rival Nissan Juke, although it trails the Mini Countryman by the same amount. To begin with, the only diesel option is a 1.6 litre with 114bhp, although a more powerful 184bhp 2.0 litre unit will be added to the range soon. Similarly, the petrol engine range is limited for now but will be expanded by the end of the year. The 1.4 litre, 148bhp unit offered now will be joined by 1.0 litre, 114bhp three cylinder turbo and 2.0 litre, 187bhp options – the latter coming with an S-Tronic automatic gearbox. When it arrives the 1.0 litre petrol version will be the cheapest model in the range with a price tag of £20,230. Courier Motoring has yet to get its hands on the car but early reviews have been very positive and Audi looks to have yet another winner on its hands. jmckeown@thecourier.co.uk