Neu! Reekie 23


A change of venue –or change of anything usually-always manages to elicit a barrage of ‘Oh, it’s not the same as before’ or ‘I preferred the old place’ from Edinburgh’s denizens whenever their former comfort zones are disrupted or shifted about and tonight was no exception. Mainly amongst my own circle this change of venue met with reticence, scathing remarks and a harking back to the very immediate past whilst I actually found the change invigorating and considered it the start of a new chapter as opposed to anything negative.

Admittedly a new venue led to some disorientation- I still don’t know where the ‘official ‘toilets are- but wandering around the empty corridors  and taking in the air in the spacious courtyard I felt added to, rather than subtracted from , the evening. A bit more dressing and curating of the room is also apparently to take place so teething problems- and cynical and, in one particular case, bad tempered companions- aside the night was set to begin.

Opening with the traditional triptych of animation shorts including one piece that involved about three minutes of flickering lights called ‘Flickr’ strangely enough-not the best way to assuage someone in a bad mood I have now discovered- got the night underway to a good start. First up of the poetry acts at the new Summerhall complex was Jenni Fagan and an impressive collection of gritty poems which dealt with very real and geographically appropriate subjects such as cleaning the male latrines at the neighbouring Meadows Bar, a flat she had formerly inhabited at 10 Nicolson Street as well as observations on the number nine being the number of the universe. Her poetry tinged with realism and familiarity struck a chord with the audience and despite its concentration on locality it would transfer well to other areas as lying at the crux of her work is an exploration of the human condition and their circumstances without dressing them up in fancy adjectives.

Next up was more animation –never usually my favourite part of the evening- and my heart sank when I discovered it was going to be an eighteen minute long piece. I actually imagined myself embarking on a twenty minute wander around the corridors trying to familiarise myself with my location rather than endure the next twenty minutes of so called entertainment. The fact it was an interpretation of Ernest Hemingway’s The Old man and the Sea went someway to persuading me to stay however and I am glad I did as I became thoroughly absorbed in the wash of colour, soothing voiceover and narrative. Bravo! To Neu! Reekie- and especially Kevin Williamson who apparently insisted against much resistance to showing this work- for actually getting me to not only sit through it but become totally absorbed and eventually admit I loved every second.

The first of the musical acts was Andrew Eaton-Lewis of Seafield Road who turned in a heartfelt set of plaintive vocals accompanied only by melancholic piano. Following this impressive musical start was one of Davy Henderson’s musical projects, the Sexual Objects. At times sounding like the Velvet Underground’s eponymous  semi-acoustic third album-this is a very good thing by the way- they also turned out an amazing set which even took the time out to namecheck current Edinburgh artist in the ascendant , Kevin Harman.

After two impressive musical acts it was up to the Store Keys to round things off and this they did more than effectively, especially with a blistering assault through Ike and Tina Turner’s ‘Nutbush City Limits which brought the evening to a climactic close.

So that was Neu! Reekie’s housewarming party at their new home and an impressive start to new beginnings. It certainly drew a big crowd-the curious alongside the faithful- and despite the initial misgivings of some at the beginning by the end of the night everyone seemed more than happy with the move. It is all down to Neu! Reekie 24 to retain that momentum however and the signs are that that will not be too much of a problem.

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