Music and arts journalist and broadcaster Nicola Meighan takes a look Paisley’s popular The Spree festival, which is back with another brilliant line-up this September.
In 2012, Paisley’s cultural stomping ground was shaken up thanks to a new music, arts and comedy festival called The Spree. Since then, it’s revelled in the town’s history, landscape and architecture, bringing homegrown stars like The Twilight Sad, Paolo Nutini, Justin Currie and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra to Paisley Abbey, and global icons like Martha Reeves and Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi to Paisley Town Hall.
The Spree’s kaleidoscopic crowning glory is its glorious Salon Perdu Spiegeltent in the town centre, which has become the festival’s lively, yet cosy and intimate home in recent years, hosting – among many others – The Bluebells, Arab Strap, The Rezillos and Kathryn Joseph, and all of 2022’s shows will take place under its picturesque canvas.
This year’s programme reflects Paisley’s touchstones of tradition and innovation (Highlands and Islands folk rock favourites Tide Lines play on September 1), its folk roots (Fife’s Barbara Dickson and Rab Noakes – both enduring collaborators and friends of Gerry Rafferty – are set to bring their treasure trove of songs to life on September 7), and its punk exuberance (Glasgow pop livewire Clare Grogan and Altered Images are live on September 9, replete with a new album under their belts), and the town is set to sing out with Scottish music, old and new.
Elsewhere on 2022’s eclectic bill, there’s a chance to see three of the UK’s most influential and best-loved songwriters joining forces. Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub), Bernard Butler (Suede, McAlmont & Butler), and James Grant (Love and Money) will take to the stage on September 5, performing work from their seminal back catalogues, and no doubt some surprises too.
There’s more indie / classic ‘90s kicks thanks to Ocean Colour Scene’s Simon and Oscar who come armed with ‘The Riverboat Song’, ‘The Day We Caught The Train’ and myriad gems on September 2 – and their band’s deep-seated love of ‘60s counter-culture resonates throughout that weekend, as local charity LNP Productions’ ModStuff bring their all-dayer on September 3, featuring an array of Northern Soul and Mod acts, along with – of course – a Scooter ride out.
For far-flung kicks, West African / Saharan collective and Grammy Award winners Tinariwen are set to raise the Spiegeltent roof with their unmissable fusion of trailblazing world music and soulful desert blues on September 4, which is their only Scottish date this year.
True to its name, The Spree offers a dizzying wealth of music, but there’s also the popular comedy strand which welcomes multiple Scottish comedy award-winner Susie McCabe. A former construction worker who started out in stand-up as a dare, McCabe brings her glorious musings to Paisley on September 10 (alongside Manchester rock rabble Slow Readers Club), weaving narratives as rich and colourful – and entertaining – as Paisley itself.
Nicola Meighan is a music and arts journalist and broadcaster (The Herald, STV, BBC Scotland). She presents the Afternoon Show on BBC Radio Scotland, every Friday, 2-4pm.
Find out more about Paisley’s rich music story with our film below.