My name’s Kev Yule and I’m the Barn’s Technical Manager. I’ve been in this position since January 2014 so have seen many faces come and go over the years (staff, artist and audience). I love the diverse nature of what the Barn does and along with the flexibility of the space, it really keeps me on my toes as we have everything from shows on the stage, on the floor, audience at either end, fairs and exhibitions, AV installations, multi speaker sound diffusion installations and everything else in between.
I’ve also overseen various projects to improve the technical facilities at the venue which has been satisfying to be able to build upon what we can offer and it’s always nice to have visiting artist come back and be impressed with where things have got to.
I’ve been asked to pull together some of my favourite memories of shows that we’ve had on over the years so here goes…
This one was too hard to just pick one!
Lau - We were extremely lucky to have Lau play with us as part of their 10 year anniversary tour in 2017. I loved the way the gig mirrored the band’s development from a fairly straight up trad band to the genre straddling act that they are today. The first half of the concert just had Martin, Kris & Aidan set up at the front of the stage, huddled round one microphone with all the rest of the stage draped off and minimal lighting to keep it very intimate. They played all the early pieces with a level of virtuosity that was humbling and inspiring to watch. Then for the second half of the performance the drape came down and we were treated to a full live set of all the electronics and more experimental songs that has come in their later albums ranging from the tenderness of “Ghosts” to the all out stomp of “Far from Portland”.
Fred Morrison - If you’d told me 20 years ago I’d be raving about a gig which was just a solo bagpiper I’d have struggled to believe you but here we are. We’ve had Fred Morrison through twice since I’ve been at the venue and he’s a joy to work with and a phenomenally talented player. From the beautiful deft touches on slow whistle airs to some of the most technically amazing pipe playing I’ve ever heard (there were actually moment in the set where you could hear the audience guffaw in unison and the ridiculousness of what he was playing).
Rich Hall - I’d always been aware of Rich Hall from various appearances on panel shows over the years and had always quite liked what I’d seen but this was the first time I’d ever seen him do a full live stand up show and I was really impressed. He had a nice mix of straight stand up along with some songs in the country music style of his Otis Lee Crenshaw alter ego. This show was in January 2017 so was just after certain political developments in his native USA and his deadpan observations on this were very enlightening and amusing.
Elizabeth Schilling has been through the Barn with two shows since I have been there and they are always something a bit left of field but she always carries these off with no pretence and she’s one of the nicest people you could meet. From rolling around a giant ball to moving around the space under a sheet of felt she never fails to be innovative, exciting and unconventional.
Northern Flyway - I could have put this in the music section as well but it’s definitely across genres. This piece incorporated visuals, music and field recordings, developed by Inge Thompson and Jenny Sturgeon and based around the ecology, folklore and sounds of birds. Inge and Jenny are joined by Sarah Haynes lending some beautiful singing, flute and keyboards and Jason Sighn bring layers of texture with beatboxing and electronics. The piece is a stunning mix of folk tunes and songs along with beautiful visuals and experimental electronics, really recommend catching this when it goes out on the road again.
There’s so many other memorable things that I could have mentioned here but just not enough time but some other highlights have included the sublime Julie Fowlis, Sons of Kemmet bringing some crazy jazz, McGoldrick, McCusker, Doyle showing what three of the top players in the world of folk can do, Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5 getting everyone to “Cross the Road”, Phil Jupitus being hysterically funny and a thoroughly nice chap, Liz Aggis being extremely weird, while we’re on weird, Sound Festival shows always keeps me on my toes with various requests like “can’t we mic up this person scrunching up paper”, Joan Cleville Dance bringing joyous abandonment to contemporary dance and the list could go on and on.
I’m sure that once we are open again we will be hosting a wide variety of more memorable gigs in the years to come but in the meantime I’ve done a playlist of some of my favourite acts that have appeared at the Barn over the years which you can find on Spotify.