Neu! Reekie 19: Edinburgh – live review

Jesus, Baby!, Alan Bisset, Malcolm Middleton & more.
Scottish Book Trust, Edinburgh.
27th July 2012

A night of “intelligent pop and spoken word to tingle toes and topple charts” was the promise for this show, one which also included the launch of the inaugural single from Neu! Reekie! records. David Marren was in attendance for us & here’s his report.

This was always going to be a big night. From the minute the launch of the Neu ! Reekie record label launch was announced alongside the promise of a live performance by Jesus Baby -featuring the crooning drawl of Davy Henderson- a buzz surrounded the event, swiftly gaining momentum. The queues outside the venue beforehand were the first signals how busy this night was going to be and the subsequent arrival of certain friends of mine who I thought would never be seen dead at such a ”Ëœpretentious’-their misconception not mine- affair confirmed how swiftly word had spread. Somehow there was also a sense that many of these new arrivals were there simply because they were worried they were missing out on something and the fact their discomfort- chatting loudly both over and through the opening animation sequence- was apparent within the first twenty minutes provided confirmation of these suspicions.

The animation sequences are the one part of this night I usually struggle with the most but usually I try and follow and on occasion have been pleasantly surprised. This time the selection included a German production as well as a Japanese short and in an attempt to sex things up a really rather beautiful piece showing two snails in the act of fornication. The ongoing commentary in front of me however was totally unnecessary.

Next up was Alan Bissett- apparently the 46th sexiest man in Scotland although I did question this when I spoke to him later- who gave a sneak preview of his Festival show The Red Glass. It was an amusing and intricate piece and bodes well for the full length piece which will he will be performing from the 15th of August onwards at the National Library of Scotland.

Following this was probably the main reason a lot of people were there on this particular evening; the debut live appearance of Jesus Baby. Preceded by the recorded versions of both sides of the single -Jesus Baby’s number is The Caterpillar Tango whilst the other number is Kevin Williamson’s spoken word-piece over atmospheric backing In a Darkened Room- with some impressive video accompaniments which more than whetted the collective appetites. The live performance however sealed the deal and was undeniably the highlight of the night with Davy Henderson proving that whatever it is he had he still possesses it- I still think the safety pin he was frantically searching for before he went on and that I then gave him played an important part in this however- whilst the rest of the band with their beautiful harmonies and ”Ëœtight as a gnats twat’ musicality were no slouches either.

Due to the build up to this point Malcolm Middleton -former Arab Strap- had a tough act to follow but his atmospheric acoustic set proved more than adequate. It was the perfect breather and change in pace the evening needed -most of the noisy ”Ëœinterlopers’ left not long after the animation so the atmosphere had settled down into something more akin to a Neu! Reekie night- and set the audience up for the house-band Emelle who rounded off proceedings in their usual way.

Neu! Reekie 19 certainly generated the biggest buzz around this event so far and it is good to see the right sort of attention being meted out to such a worthy event. It is a tough night to follow but I don’t fear this will prove too much of a challenge for the organisers as the instincts which have brought them this far seem to be very much still in place.

All words by David Marren. You can read more by David on LTW here. David also blogs at thequotidiantimes.

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