NEU REEKIE 37

Neu Reekie 37

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Other commitments have forced me to take a forced hiatus from the last two Neu Reekie events so I was really looking forward to this one. Beautiful sunshine and new Scottish hopefuls The Merrylees announced as -relatively- last minute headliners only compounded my anticipatory feelings in a positive way. Unfortunately the former combined with meeting  members of the latter all mixed with a gin and tonic forced me to miss the first third of the show as the new seating set up –in place for the Fringe- didn’t encourage latecomers.

 Once installed in my seat my evening proper began with the poet Helen Ivory performing several short poems from her collection ‘Waiting for Bluebeard’. Some of the pieces were so short that the audience were unaware that they had finished so there was a hesitation in their applause. Unfortunately this caused some nervousness in Ivory who didn’t seem too comfortable in her role as a performer which was unfortunate as her poems seemed quite compelling and exploratory of another world. It was a slightly hesitant performance but her confidence in her work lay undiminished.

 Next up was Ross Hogg’s animation piece ‘The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat’ narrated by Gavin Miller-who also introduced the showcase. It was a short concise and skilfully executed piece.

 The first of the evening’s impressive line up of musical acts Gareth Sager-formerly of the Pop Group and Rip, Rig and Panic- then begun a set which sounded at times like an avant-garde exhumation of Johnny Cash and I mean that in a good way. Flying against the rules of standard musical structure but still within its boundaries he incorporated an irreverent ‘could have heard  a pin drop’ rendering of Rod Stewart’s ‘I Don’t Want to Talk about it’ and the Velvet’s ‘Pale Blue Eyes’ alongside equally impressive originals all played out against a backdrop of Warhol’s ‘Sleep’. A talent who understands where music can go and where it can take you, it was a highly emotive set with moments of fragile beauty set against gut wrenching torment.

Second of the musical line-up was Craig Lithgow and the Mutineers who arising from the remnants of former house band Emelle put on a fiery set full of cut and thrusting acoustic and electric guitars, frantic rhythms, memorable melodies alongside insightful and incisive lyrics. It was the perfect build up to the headliners of the evening, The Merrylees.

 From their opening number which was all Bowie flourish and, thanks to the introduction of a trumpet player, Scott Walker drama it was clear that the interest and plaudits surrounding this band are well deserved. Their playing was tighter than a gnats twat-as it was so endearingly but succinctly put to me-but particularly of note were guitarist Simon Allan’s guitar contributions which had a touch of Bert Weedon about them and seemed to be playing a counterpoint melody different to Ryan Sandison’s vocals which dripped like honey. Add to this a powerhouse rhythm section and even their very own Bez type figure who did his own brand of freaky dancing which almost ended in an impromptu strip but fell short of going ‘The Full Monty’; actually the dancer is not part of the band but merely an over enthusiastic friend . Bowing out with a soaring version of ‘Ghost Riders in the Sky’ it was a stunning set  confirming as a band it would seem they have a very promising future ahead of them and it is about time Scotland showed its musical muscle again. Perhaps not dancing out of time in a singlet on stage though!

 So my return to the Neu Reekie fold was every bit as good  I imagined it would be. Unfortunately I missed the opening acts but I have no doubt they were just as good as those that followed. Keep an eye out during the Fringe for events featuring founders Michael Pedersen and Kevin Williamson and clear a space in your diary for August 30th when the next official Neu Reekie returns

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