Glasgow letter from Robert Robertson 06.02.20

Jamie MacDougall held the Tron Theatre audience in the palm of his hand as he adopted the persona of Harry Lauder and took us through the remarkable life of the world's first global superstar.

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Jamie MacDougall performs Lauder

I wrote in previous weeks that I had bought my mum and dad tickets to this Celtic Connections concert for Christmas. What a successful present it was!

As we left the Tron Theatre, my dad commented that it had been one of the most enjoyable shows he had ever seen in his life and I genuinely do not think that was an exaggeration.

Jamie MacDougall, known for his distinguished classical singing career and his presenting on BBC Radio, was simply outstanding as he adopted the persona of Harry Lauder himself and took us through the man’s remarkable life as outlined by this Jimmy Logan ‘play with tunes’ – first performed in 1976. And what a life it was.

It is hard to believe a man who cut his musical teeth singing in Lanarkshire music halls whilst working as a coal miner in Hamilton would rise to become the highest earning international performer in 1911.

Someone recently asked me if Lauder equated to an early 20th century Lewis Capaldi and I had to answer no: he was bigger than that. He was the toast of both the White House and Buckingham Palace and, in more poignant parts of the show, we learn of how he was able to raise a million pounds for the veterans of the Great War after his son was killed on the Western Front.

It was for this effort that he became the first Knight of the Music Hall. From the highs of stardom from Australia to the States, to the lows of losing his son, all Lauder’s emotions are captured perfectly in what is essentially a one-man show – other than the brilliant Derek Clark on piano accompaniment who is subtly brought into the storyline now and again.

I write about a lot of gigs in this column but never have I been more genuine than when I say: if you do nothing else this year, do your absolute utmost to see Lauder.

Jamie is taking this show to Lauder’s birthplace, Portobello, on August 4, and the Ghillie Dhu, Edinburgh, as part of the Fringe August 7-16. Future shows are unconfirmed but likely to be in Straven, Ayr, Perth, Dundee, Greenock, and maybe more!

Mull and Iona

The Mull and Iona Association have announced the line up for their gathering on Saturday February 22. Performers on the evening will be Claire MacAulay, Calum MacColl, Kirsty Netta MacKinnon, Ruaraidh MacLean and Camrie MacInnes, Layla and Cara MacFadyen, and the Mull and Iona Pipers. Doors open at 7pm and, after the concert, Robert Nairn and his Highland Dance band will play 10:30pm till late. Tickets are available from or in person at the Park Bar.

Glasgow Islay

The Glasgow Islay Association will hold their 158th annual gathering concert and dance on Saturday March 7 in the Glasgow University Union with Iseabail MacTaggart in the chair. The concert begins at 7.30pm and the dance at 10.30pm. More information on artistes to follow in the coming weeks.