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Seeing in the New Year with a bang

Gary Flockhart joined 100,000 very merry revellers in the Capital for a night of frenzied partying to rival any Hogmanay celebration on the planet

THEY say the best parties are often those of the unplanned variety - yet Edinburgh managed to make a right good knees-up of its extravaganza Hogmanay bash.

More than 100,000 took to the streets of the capital for the countdown to what was arguably the biggest and best Hogmanay party on Earth - a night of frenzied partying to rival any of the other global celebrations.

With a line-up featuring New York bands Blondie and the Scissor Sisters, the city put the embarrassing washout of last year firmly behind it to see out 2004 in style.

Some 8000 ticket holders gathered at Princes Street Gardens to watch the bands, while many of those without tickets partied on Princes Street.

As the Gardens began to fill up with cold but very merry revellers from the four corners of the world, Edinburgh band Aberfeldy opened the sold-out gig at 10pm.

These twee indie popsters are tipped for big things in 2005, and it’s not hard to know why.

Led by main vocalist Riley Briggs, the talented five-piece performed a short but impressive set comprising songs from their critically acclaimed debut album, including the insanely catchy Heliopolis by Night.

Admittedly, Aberfeldy probably had the hardest task of all to start the party rolling, but, like every good band, they came up trumps.

Despite the crowd’s high spirits, the victims of the tsunamis across Asia were not forgotten. At 10.45pm, just after Aberfeldy’s set, there was a minute’s silence for the disaster victims.

Shortly after, headliners Blondie took to the stage, sending the crowd wild.

Rolling back the years with an electrifying performance, singer Deborah Harry roused the crowd in the run-up to midnight with a show that she fronted wearing a kilt.

The 59-year-old pop icon belted out all the band’s classic anthems. The familiar sounds of smash hits such as Atomic, Hanging on the Telephone and The Tide is High had the crowds dancing in the Gardens and, no doubt, far beyond too.

The veteran rocker, said she was "thrilled to be back in Edinburgh", and when she draped herself in a Saltire flag towards the end of her set, the crowd went predictably wild.

Blondie left the stage just three minutes before the traditional countdown to 2005, after leading the crowd into a mass singalong of Auld Lang Syne.

Come the midnight hour, a short but dazzling display of pyrotechnics was launched from seven hills across the city.

Then it was out with the old and in with the new as Blondie’s fellow New Yorkers, Scissor Sisters, arrived to up the tempo again. Hits like Take Your Mama Out and Filthy/Gorgeous kept the Gardens rocking until the wee small hours.

Scissor Sisters have good reason to love it here, and singers Jake Shears and Ana Matronic made no secret of it. Their infectious blend of funked-up disco rhythms, glam-rock and camp cabaret made them stars here before they’d even conquered their native New York.

Matronic told the crowd she wanted to make them into "the most delicious shortbread", and moments later, stilt-wearing dancers dressed as giant scissors joined the band on stage.

Sexy, stylish and undeniably cool, Scissor Sisters proved the perfect choice to close this year’s Hogmanay bash - as evidenced by glowing smiles on the faces of the buoyant thousands heading off to first-foot.

From start to finish, this gig was a fantastic way to bring in the new year - proof positive that nowhere does Hogmanay quite like us.

Mon 3 Jan 2005




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