Edinburgh's Hogmanay Concert, Princes Gardens, Edinburgh

Crowds, cocktails and celebration
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The Independent Culture

Perhaps the most spectacular aspect of this year's celebratory Hogmanay events in Edinburgh was that they went ahead at all. Twice this decade now, the 31 December festivities the city's other international showpiece event, after August's various festivals has been cancelled due to inclement weather, and many commentators speculated that last year's eleventh-hour call-off due to high winds might have been a blow from which subsequent years wouldn't recover.

Yet Edinburgh's Hogmanay has returned once again, and the crowds have come with it. Indeed, there appeared to be no discernible decrease in attendance as tens of thousands of warmly-wrapped revellers swigging home-made cocktails from plastic bottles thronged Princes Street, awaiting a view of the midnight fireworks above the castle and bottlenecking around the event's various smaller stages.

While these platforms showcased an array of lesser-known Scottish lights in the build-up, however including the highly-regarded Fife folk-rocker King Creosote and the somewhat novelty thrill of the Red Hot Chilli Pipers the main concert on Princes Street Gardens' Ross Bandstand stage remains the main focus of the evening. It reaffirms the strong state of the Scottish popular music scene, in fact, that two of the three big-name bands booked to appear there were from north of the border.

Sadly for 2007's X-Factor winner Leon Jackson (a local boy from nearby Whitburn), a bout of tonsillitis meant that he couldn't add his name to this line-up by opening proceedings as planned.

While most party-goers, even those in a semi-ironic mood, might not have been disappointed by this one lone cancellation of the night, the main stage's actual openers, Idlewild, were not so well-known to the bulk of attendees. The literate rock outfit inspire either wild loyalty or only vague recognition in their home audience, and managed to combine the two into warm appreciation here.

Edinburgh's final band of 2007, however, were a far more unifyingly rabble-rousing affair. With their crowd already winter-proofed against the misty drizzle by a large collective quantity of alcohol, Leicester's Kasabian appeared to understand the significance of this particular party to a Scots audience, and delivered an accordingly furious set.

The electro-glam stomp of the opening "Shoot the Runner" declared them a far more raucous band than this event usually accommodates (the likes of KT Tunstall, Texas and Scissor Sisters have been highlights in recent years), with their singer Tom Meighan somewhat metrosexually outfitted in fitted black jeans and shirt, and high-heeled brothel creepers taking pains to emphasise his Irish roots in an effort to join in the Celtic abandon unfolding before him.

Their set was largely cut from a similarly energetic mould, with the strident "Cutt Off", "Empire" and "The Doberman" doing enough to negate guitarist Serge Pizzorno's bland drug-eulogising throughout "Me Plus One".

The moment at which this became a truly special event rather than just a good gig, however, came with the surprise introduction of Oasis's Noel Gallagher on stage three songs from the end. A friend of Kasabian whose girlfriend is from Edinburgh, Gallagher didn't have to do much but wave and strum his guitar, although his taciturn presence very kindly refusing to steal any thunder from his hosts energised the crowd even further.

The post-bells set from Dumfries's Calvin Harris was a different beast, a loose-limbed house-funk which played to all the partygoers who had foregone a night of clubbing in favour of braving the weather.

Harris is a no-nonsense, all-action performer, although his continual motion during such signature tracks of the past year as "The Girls" and "Acceptable in the 80s" might have been simple evasion of all the half-full beer cups splashing around his feet (a term of enthusiastic endearment in these parts, believe it or not). His sarcastic dedication of every song in the second half of his set to Leon Jackson ("this one's for you, comrade"; "this goes out to a special guy...") was cause for much amusement, though a bit cruel given that the recuperating reality star had been unable to join us amidst such an uplifting start to the new year.

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