Saturday 25th August, 2018
How could I, music aficionado and museum lover that I am, spend a weekend in Edinburgh and not go see Rip It Up? Personal recommendations, BBC documentaries and general curiosity led me to the doors of the National Museum of Scotland. A museum I could happily have lost myself in for days. Sadly all I had time for was Rip It Up, but I shall have to plan a time to return and take in more of the amazing building and its collections.
We were the first people through the exhibition doors, meaning more space to explore and there was plenty to take in. Presented in a roughly chronological order, with nods to the Scottish diaspora, the importance of heritage and language as well as looking towards the future, this is how music retrospectives should be done (take note Bristol, this was a much better effort than yours I am sad to say). Lots of different styles of music were represented and there was a clear effort to tell the stories of female musicians, which I really appreciated. Barbara Dickson, Annie Lennox, Lulu (by gosh she was and is tiny – her costumes show just how wee she is!), KT Tunstall, Sharleen Spiteri, Claire Grogan and Shirley Manson all got nods. The mixture of fan, artist and archive material was well blended – I’ve never seen an NME, Ivor Novello or Brit award up close before and handwritten lyric sheets and postcards home gave a real feeling of being connected to the artists concerned. Clearly the curators had developed real relationships with the musicians involved and the care taken was evident. The talking head videos were well done, adding and enriching the material. What I loved most was that clips of the songs were played in each room, reminding you of the artists you were reading about. We don’t all always remember the name of the band, but we do recognise the chorus or hook line.
Including a small tribute to Frightened Rabbit singer, Scott Hutchison who we lost this year to suicide and the copy of the Runrig CD found as part of the wreckage of the Challenger shuttle disaster was a nice touch and pretty moving, as was the gentle tribute to Alan Longmuir of the Bay City Rollers who also died this year.
The ending of the exhibition couldn’t have been more perfect. A series of large screens showing festival performances from some of the biggest bands. I had to stand at the back, dancing and singing along to Travis, The Proclaimers, Franz Ferdinand and Paolo Nutini. I left with a huge smile on my face.
Well done to all involved in creating Rip It Up, you did a sterling job of bringing a whistle stop tour of Scottish popular music together.