Live at Edinburgh Castle: Holyrood MPs 'staggered' at lack of Scottish artists performing at Commonwealth Games curtain-raiser

The line up will ensure that the BBC concert does not become a vehicle for Scottish artists weighing in on the independence debate

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

The BBC has promised a “glittering array of international music acts” in its big set-piece event next weekend ahead of the Commonwealth Games.

But Scottish MPs have noticed a problem with the all-star concert: it will not feature any of the nation’s leading artists.

The line up for Live at Edinburgh Castle, screened nationwide by BBC1 on 19 July, is dominated by English artists, including Jessie J, Culture Club, Kaiser Chiefs, Ella Henderson, Paloma Faith, Rizzle Kicks and Alfie Boe.

There are more Welsh singers than Scots taking to the stage, with Katherine Jenkins joining the show, which will be presented by the One Show host Alex Jones. Others stars performing at the concert, which costs £60 a ticket, include the US soul legend Smokey Robinson, European operatic troupe  Il Divo, and even a South African opera singer Pumeza.

Pete Wishart, a SNP MP, said: “I’m staggered that the BBC has omitted Scottish artists from the line-up for a major televised show ahead of the Commonwealth Games.”

Wishart, a former member of the Celtic rock band Runrig and a keyboardist for Big Country, said: “The T in the Park festival this weekend is headlined by Biffy Clyro, Calvin Harris and Paolo Nutini so there are plenty of top Scottish acts in town. They couldn’t get one of those?”


The MP said the BBC ought to have been more sensitive about the line-up, which may inflame Scottish opinion, ahead of the independence referendum. “We have to be careful how major events are prepared and scheduled ahead of the referendum,” he said.

The BBC said the Scottish comedian Fred MacAulay would make a “special guest appearance”. The English comic Bill Bailey will perform with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. A BBC spokesman said: “We are broadcasting lots of Scottish acts from T in the Park. Calvin Harris and Paolo Nutini played at Radio 1’s Big Weekend in May. This show is offering something different to the audience.”

Scottish acts including Simple Minds, Texas and Amy Macdonald will perform at BBC at the Quay, a pop-up festival during the Games, staged beside the River Clyde.

A “surprise appearance” is being mooted for the Edinburgh show, which includes the final leg of the Queen’s Baton Relay before it arrives in Glasgow.

The marginalisation of Scottish performers will ensure that the BBC concert does not become a vehicle for artists weighing into the independence debate.

Geoff Ellis, promoter of T in the Park, said that there would be no attempt to stop any artists making comments about the September 18 referendum on stage at this year’s event.

Biffy Clyro, the first Scottish band to close the main stage at T in the Park in 13 years, are backing a Yes vote. Their frontman Simon Neil said: “Scotland has really good oil money, we’ve got renewable energy, we have ways of moving forward and we’re in a strong position to make it happen.”

Jessie J may not have endeared herself to the Scottish audience after saying she was delighted to appear at the Edinburgh event because “I love a deep-fried Mars bar.”

MacAulay said: “This is a really great event to get the party started for the Commonwealth Games, and to get so many great artists on the one stage makes it very special. I hope that, not only the people of Edinburgh but also the whole of the UK enjoy the show.”

Guy Freeman, the Live at Edinburgh Castle executive producer, said: “There is something for everyone at this concert and to see so many different musical performances at the one event will make it really special and unique.”