Neu! Reekie 31

Neu Reekie 31

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There seemed to be a bit of a buzz in the air surrounding this one and the fact it sold out well in advance merely confirmed this. Certainly there was a definite crackling energy in the foyer beforehand where old faces on the scene stood beside younger and more recent converts and by the time we were allowed into the hall a sense of expectation hung heavy in the air.

Not wishing to disappoint co-founder Kevin Williamson introduced what he considered to be one of the most important pieces of poetry from the ‘80’s –by way of his concession to a Thatcher tribute/comment- and we were off into a fantastic Old Grey Whistle Test performance of John Cooper Clarke’s ‘Beasley Street’. This spoke volumes about an era of poverty, unemployment and poor social conditions which sits uneasily with recent media portrayals and rewritings which have tried to say that this was a time of prosperity and cultural growth when for many the opposite was true.

 This topical and impressive start led us neatly into a Canadian piece of animation by Norman McLaren which started off like one of those, once seemingly sophisticated but nowadays relegated to the status of ancient relic, early computer tennis games. It gradually worked its way into an ever evolving Test Card with a mind of its own with colours and signals colliding whilst being accompanied by a soundtrack which descended into malfunctioning android drones. The overall effect was like being electronically tickled and I mean this in a good way!

 First live act of the night was punk poet Jock Scot. Accompanied by a double bass and a salacious, sardonic delivery affirming his role as poet meets witty raconteur. The effect was like Lou Reed’s ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ being transferred from the back room of Max’s Kansas City to the foot of Leith Walk. The wild side of the Walk Inn if you like! The now non-existent bridge on Leith walk was given some worthy attention in its very own poem as was former Fire Engine and current Jesus! Baby singer Davy Henderson, in a reading of ‘Nectarine No. 9’.

 Aidan Moffat had a tough act to follow but somehow he more than admirably held his own with a set which included a song called ‘This Morning’ about the horrors contained within the world of daytime television accompanied by his rhythmic strumming at an autoharp. The rich tonal timbre of his delivery was constantly effective and re-assuring even when approaching the subjects of polygamy and Fern Britton.

 To round the night off the musical duo Panda Su performed a beautifully haunting set including impressive new single ‘Maps’. Meanwhile a pair of randy pandas copulated excitedly on the screen behind them though obviously not the love shy pair which currently reside at Edinburgh zoo as there has been little success in coaxing them into any such frolicsome behaviour.

 So Neu Reekie 31 finished on a subtle note then and it seemed to flow very cohesively and be over very quickly. Conversely enough number 32 had already taken place in Glasgow before Friday’s event so it will be down to Neu Reekie 33 at the end of May to carry the burden of trying to surpass this one.

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