Posts Tagged ‘ Neu Reekie ’

JUST AN OBSERVATION

Just an Observation
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Having had a few weeks off writing this column and watching as the world slips further and further into chaos, hatred and meaningless mayhem without comment it is now time to step into the breech once more and ponder as to how we have arrived at such a tortuous and desperate state.
Personally my theory that the fabric of the universe was torn with David Bowie’s passing in January- it still feels as if we have lost some crucial element, almost like there is a colour missing-makes as much sense as anything that has happened since: Brexit, an unelected Prime Minister, not even voted for by her own party, a rise in hate crimes and the horrifying rise of Donald Trump across the Atlantic.
Meanwhile the pound is at its lowest level in living memory- I purchased something online recently and the cost was almost the same in pounds as it was in dollars and was aware there was a time this would have been unimaginable- and the cost of basic living about to rise inexorably. Somehow the government insists nothing major has changed while the media focus on Tesco unable to stock Marmite due to a fall out with Unilever and the arrival of fourteen children from Calais and whether they are actually children at all whips up more frenzied xenophobia
However it turns out that racism was not the main cause for the Brexit vote after all but the austerity measures the Tories –along with the Lib-Dems it must be said- imposed on the nation for five gruelling years harbouring resentment deep in the under-classes whose only means of protest was voting against the establishment imposing them. Well done David Cameron if anyone ever made a pig’s ear-why do pigs always come into it when discussing Cameron- out of being a Prime Minister then it was you.
Meanwhile Theresa May shakes her head and says no more money for the NHS and meets with little opposition or argument.
However what is happening here is nothing compared to the rise of The Trump in America. Unfortunately like Boris Johnson and Brexit before him I have a sincerely bad feeling about this one. The only thing I can say about this Presidential campaign is that it resembles a hate campaign more than a political one. Hillary Clinton would normally not be anyone’s choice as President- in many ways she is as loathsome as Trump- but in this election she is definitely the preferred winner. The whole thing has descended into cheap mudslinging barely worthy of the playground while common courtesies and good manners have been abandoned wholesale.
How did things get this bad?
Meanwhile the dark nights continue to get darker as does BBC2’s excellent crime thriller The Fall with Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan.
Constantly understated and underplayed the tension builds weekly until as viewers we become absorbed in the chilling two-step the lead characters are dancing around each other. Often it feels as if little has happened at the end of an episode until the complexities hit home and you realise how sinuous and compelling the writing and acting both are. Last night Dornan’s character, Paul Spector, basically handed his defence team his get out of jail card whilst still not revealing whether he is faking the amnesia at the core of his defence. By far and away the best thing on TV at the moment- not particularly hard to be honest- The Fall is a lesson in how it should be done.
Certainly the lack of any decent TV has necessitated mpre nights out and tonight is no exception as The Fini Tribe unveil new material at the Neu Reekie Sullivan’s Ascent show in Leith St. Andrew’s Church tonight. This is a fine way to kick off any weekend.
There are also the upcoming PJ Harvey and Primal Scream gigs which promise to give a usually barren and dark filled November some much needed colour and light.
Something else which certainly needs some light shed on it is the reason Inverleith House, deep in the heart of the Botanic Gardens, is being forced to close as an art gallery.
I have been going here for decades and seen many impressive exhibitions including a recent retrospective pop art guru Richard Hamilton. As much a feature of any visit as looking at foliage, plants or flowers to lose this would be a major blow for both the gardens and the art community. I am unclear what will arise in its stead but the last thing needed is yet another café or bric a brac shop. I am doing something I normally never do but adding a link to a petition against its closure that I would kindly ask you to peruse and sign if you agree.
https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/prevent-the-closure-of-inverleith-house-edinburgh-as-a-public-art-space
Thank you!

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JUST AN OBSERVATION

Just an Observation
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Do they know it’s Christmas?
Well maybe ‘they’ do but with only two weeks to go I have managed for the second or third year running-I’ve lost count really- to totally avoid the whole debacle so far. This year however it has been entirely unintentional and despite every advert on TV proclaiming the event, every shop in town marketing itself towards it and even the return of the farcical and totally commercial vehicle Winter Wonderland blighting our cityscape I was still genuinely surprised when someone mentioned it was virtually days away.
I must admit my head had been bothered by other more important things recently including our government’s decision to go to war by sanctioning air-strikes on an already destructed and war-torn Syria. Confusion about what good this is actually going to do added to further confusion that MPs cheered this decision in the House of Commons when it was announced, especially as only a few months ago the SNP were admonished for cheering a speech which set out objectives to help the poor, vulnerable and needy. Perhaps cheering is only acceptable when poor, vulnerable and needy people in other countries who have already had their lives ripped apart are being bombed.
There was something particularly disheartening about watching this boorish display of macho bravado which confirmed to me that those making such important decisions are little more than overgrown schoolboys who have little compassion for civilian lives.
On top of this Donald Trump, who is intending to run for government in the US, thought it wise to announce that all Muslims should be banned from entering the country as they are a danger to Americans. It is beyond belief that such outright xenophobia still exists in a supposedly evolved culture but apparently it does and apparently it has support, cue that Hopkins woman leaping onto that bandwagon in her usual ungainly way.
A petition gaining over five hundred thousand signatures- the highest ever handed to this government- banning Trump from entering the UK has been doing the rounds and he has been decried by Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, and been stripped off an honorary degree by the Robert Gordon University. Personally I don’t think this in any way goes far enough at all and every dry-cleaner globally should ban him from entering and having his hair cleaned.
Elsewhere although I have been moaning about the rain for weeks wondering just when and if it will ever end I must admit most of our grievances were not so bad when I saw what the poor inhabitants of Cumbria have been going through. My heart went out to them when I saw how their community had been wrecked by flooding but was heartened by their spirit in fighting back by banding together in an attempt to salvage what they could and plan for the future only for a second round of floods destroy all their valiant efforts and my heart sank again.
It makes my whingeing about getting wet every time I leave the house seem slightly irrelevant. It looks pleasant and dry enough out there today however but on recent form I don’t expect it to last and still think this is one of the most miserable winters in recent memory; discounting the snow deep ones of 2009 and 2010 of course.
In a vague attempt to try to raise some of my missing Christmas spirit- raising the Titanic would likely be less of gargantuan task- I am going to go along to Christmas Markets in St. Margaret’s House- London Road- and Summerhall over the weekend. On top of this there is also Neu Reekie’s XmasKracker at Central Hall on the 18th featuring with a bumper festive line up including Irvine Welsh, Liz Lochhead, White, Withered Hand and many others in what promises to be a night not to be missed. On top of all that I am also going to the camp piece of froth that is ‘Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’ starring Jason Donovan at the Playhouse next Friday which, by the way, is the real Black Friday and has been for years.I may also take a look at the ‘Street of Light’ on the Royal Mile which looks so impressive every time I pass, although less impressive is the brightest and most prominent lights of all declaring ‘Virgin Money’ which detracts more than a little from the spirit of the whole thing. If that lot doesn’t make me realise that Christmas is here then nothing will!

JUST AN OBSERVATION

Just an Observation
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With the very welcome Indian Summer- actually the only summer we have had this year- drawing to its inevitable conclusion and the first stirrings of winter hovering expectantly in the wings it would be wise to take advantage of the slightly lighter notes before we are cloaked in darkness for seemingly endless months.
Tonight a perfect opportunity to have a good time in aid of a worthy cause presents itself in the form of Sanctuary at Studio 24 where some of Edinburgh’s finest will coalesce both on and off the stage, behind the scenes, in the audience and on the dancefloor at a benefit in aid of those refugees who are stuck in Calais through no fault of their own but are in desperate need of medical assistance and general help.
With a line up including compere Tam Dean Burn hosting a line up including Neu Reekie boys Kevin Williamson and Michael Pedersen, music from Samba Sene and Diwan, Delightful Peoples, The Youth and the Young, Texture and Katherine McMahon. As if this wasn’t enough the lovely Rachel and Corneilius who rocked the floor at Rammed will be spinning tunes guaranteed to keep the dancefloor packed throughout proceedings.
Definitely not a night to be missed and all in a good cause so what is not to like?
Elsewhere the Street in Picardy Place celebrates its eleventh birthday party tomorrow night with a party although I am sure that it was only a couple of months ago I went to their alcohol fuelled opening night. Not that I have ever been very good at counting years and lose several at regular intervals and at my own convenience as many of my friends will attest.
Out at the cinema the new version of Macbeth starring Michael Fassbender is on my to do list for the coming week. Hopefully it impresses more than the hyped up Legend which despite having great subject matter as the Kray twins was only saved by Tom Hardy’s performances as both brothers. Fassbender certainly has his work cut out for him matching some theatrical legends in the part and Shakespeare doesn’t always translate well to the cinema so it will be intriguing to see what this production has to offer.
Right about to sign off and remember tonight Studio 24 and Sanctuary; it is the right thing to do!

JUST AN OBSERVATION

Just An Observation
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I think someone forgot to send the weather the memo that it is now summer!
With the yearly Meadows Festival taking place tomorrow it has almost become tradition that rain and grey skies are obligatory. Although it is always a blessing when the Bongo Players are rained off- this won’t bother me so much personally this year as I am no longer a resident in the area- it is unfortunate that such an event is nearly always marred by the weather. Hopefully the weather forecasts are all proved wrong and it is a glorious day with beaming glorious sunshine and we are all complaining of heatstroke and sunburn but at the moment that seems unlikely. There are some good stalls however among them the Iconic stall which is making an appearance before its Grassmarket base closes down later in the year.
This may be a final chance to see Iconic’s wares in such an informal environment as it is moving into online sales due to problems many shops in the Grassmarket are having at the moment so it would seem it is not just our high streets which are suffering at the moment. It is a shame to see such a great shop go-it will remain open until year’s end- but it would seem Edinburgh Council are not too interested in helping out small creative businesses in their endeavours when it is more profitable to them to encourage stag and hen parties to drunkenly commandeer areas such the Grassmarket with little regard for residents or shop-owners. This is progress apparently.
Tuesday night, of all nights, sees a flurry of activity in the social strata with two major events on opposing sides of the Scottish coastlines. Edinburgh will be alive to the sound of the Fini Tribe, Young Fathers and a myriad cast of others including Andrew Weatherall at Central Hall as part of Neu Reekie’s summer extravaganza. Meanwhile over in Glasgow Patti Smith is performing her seminal debut and all time classic, as well as perennially personal favourite, album ‘Horses’ in its splendiferous entirety. Who would ever have thought boring old Tuesdays could throw up such delights and temptations? Now this really is progress.
The Neu Reekie night looks like being a major Edinburgh event which it would seem anyone who is anyone is attending. Nights of this standard don’t come around very often and it would be a shame to miss it which unfortunately I will as I shall be in Glasgow watching Patti Smith strut her very impressive stuff!
It is unfortunate a choice had to be made but for me it was no choice at all really as seeing her perform this record, which was among a handful which assisted in refashioning rock and roll from its bloated corpulent state in the mid seventies, is a must see. It always never ceases to amaze me the amount of passion, adrenaline and sheer electricity Smith manages to draw from within herself and transmit to her audience. I am expecting big things of this night and don’t expect to be disappointed!
Less than a month on from the General Election it would seem the Tories are only just beginning to show how awful the next five years will be under their rule. Plans to censor all media broadcasts containing all ‘extremist’ views are already afoot despite arguments that this contravenes the freedom of speech act.
Taking away any freedom of expression seems to be a major part of their manifesto and somehow the irony that this is in itself extremist is lost on them. Or perhaps it isn’t at all. Certainly the fact that George Osborne plans to sell off RBS to his city pals at a loss of £13 billion to the tax payers who paid to save it is beyond despicable. In many ways he and David Cameron are worse to me than Margaret Thatcher who although misguided, slightly insane and unhinged seemed to actually believe that she was actually right in what she was doing. These two however are fully aware that what they are doing is wrong and corrupt but don’t seem to care. It is almost as if they are laughing in our faces!
At least Scotland has the voice of 56 SNP MP’s to oppose them at every turn but whether even that is enough to make a whole lot of difference is unfortunately debateable.
Off now to find myself some suitable rainwear for the Meadows Festival although I am also looking out t-shirts and flip flops in case there is a total turnaround in the weather. Here’s hoping!

JUST AN OBSERVATION

Just an Observation
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Whilst it is disappointing that summer seems to be delayed, seemingly in no hurry to get here anytime soon, it is even more frustrating that Simon Cowell and his merry band of annoying Britain’s got Delusions cohorts seem to have moved on from taking over the weekend TV schedules to occupying every night of the week virtually uncontested.
I know it is a pointless question but who actually watches this shit and why is it so popular?
Are we really that vacuous a nation or have we just surrendered ourselves to hours and hours of mundane offerings with little relevance or meaning and why are there so few alternatives? Almost as smug –possibly even more powerful- as David Cameron, Simon Cowell holds court over the proceedings like some latter-day pimped up Nero in Raybans with bog brush hair. Has there ever been anyone more naff and more challenged than challenging?
It really is a sad state of affairs for British television that whole schedules are arranged around this sort of thing simply to find an act for that other TV ‘highlight’ the Royal Variety Show!
A few weekends ago I looked at the TV listings guide and wondered what decade or even century we were living in when I noticed that Sunday night viewing consisted of the sixties stalwart ‘Sunday Night at The Palladium’ on one channel whilst the BBC were showing that bastion of seventies Sunday fare ‘Poldark’ on the other. I managed ten minutes of the latter before realising that French and Saunders weren’t going to suddenly appear and it was a serious attempt at drama.
It is not all bad however and there is a lone piece of genius in the shape of ‘Peter Kay’s Car Share’ which if you haven’t seen then I recommend you catch on BBC iPlayer while you still can. It isn’t often I laugh out loud at comedy but I did to this which although brilliantly observed and well written it was the two main performances and chemistry between Kay and Sian Gibson which really took it to another level.
Things are hotting up-hopefully literally- around this year’s Film Festival which starts on June 17th and runs until the 28th. Attracting most of the interest and attention is a documentary by Grant McPhee Big Gold Dream: Scottish Post Punk and Infiltrating the Mainstream about an especially vibrant and exciting time in Edinburgh’s musical history which precipitated a cultural shift in the city’s landscape which resonates even today. It was a time when many teenage lives, including mine, exploded from drab black and white into vibrant colour even if said colours were more often than not drab black and grey! Rules were broken and rethought about this time and it was probably the first time-in many ways it was also possibly the last- a generation took matters into their own hands and shaped their own futures!
This is a particularly interesting film for me as it is a scene I fell into in my mid-teens and met many of the participants, several of which I am proud to call friends even to this day. From the cast of thousands expect insights, humour mixed with colourful anecdotes and hopefully obligatory bitching from the likes of Davy Henderson, Robert King, Fay Fife. Jo Callis, Edwyn Collins, Allan Campbell and Alan Mc Gee. Also expect some excellent and previously unseen footage from the likes of The Fire Engines and The Scars. It is also good to see the Edinburgh musical scene at last getting the recognition it wholly deserves as usually documentaries focussing on this time and location are more Glasgow-centric. Premiering on the 19th of June at The Filmhouse this is definitely a hot ticket although there is a further showing at the Odeon on Lothian Road the following Saturday 27th.
Other highlights of the festival look to be Amy a documentary about the tragic short life of Amy Winehouse and Imagine Waking up Tomorrow and All Music Has Disappeared which is a fascinating insight into the mind of true musical maverick Bill Drummond. Of course there are bound to be many more films of interest but I will need to study the programme a little closer and give recommendations nearer the time.
This weekend’s highlights include The Design Market at the Fruitmarket Gallery in Market Street which features many talented teams and individuals from the city’s creative hub including the fabulous Tessuti, Workhorse Press, A Pair of Blue Eyes and many others. Tomorrow night sees the Fini Tribe return to Paradise Palms with guests including Scott Ferguson (Robot 84). This a sort of warm up for their big night as part of Neu Reekie’s extravaganza on June the 9th also featuring The Young Fathers, at Central Hall which I am unfortunately going to miss as I am attending Patti Smith’s performance of her seminal album Horses in Glasgow that night. However I will be back in town for the obligatory after party! Can’t miss that now! Can I ?

JUST AN OBSERVATION

Just an Observation
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Well with just under a week to go in the closest run General Election of modern times it seems the heat has really turned up. The lacklustre Conservative campaign is losing momentum and votes while David Cameron’s face resembles more and more a sweaty round cheese well past its sell by date. Meanwhile Labour are still claiming they can win a majority that they obviously can’t- and Ed Milliband sounds more and more like a programmed robot –E2D2- only slightly less human. The Greens and Plaid Cymru are sneaking up from the back while everyone seems to have forgotten about the Lib Dems, including party members themselves. Up here in Scotland however the tension and excitement is more palpable that it has ever been since, oh let’s see, about eight or nine months ago.
It is Scotland this election has focussed on and the phenomenal rise of the SNP who look set to take an overwhelming majority of seats, if not them all. It is certainly a strange thing to hear your nation demonised by Cameron and Milliband as they have been throughout the election campaign-Cameron in particular has spoken of little else warning that democracy itself is at threat when surely this is democracy in action and at its most poignant-when only last September the very Scots now being lambasted were being pleaded with to stay as they were so important to the United Kingdom. Not anymore apparently and the fact they might have a say in the running of the country they voted to stay in is now abhorrent to the very same people. Confused? You will be after the next episode of Soap; to borrow a tag line from the classic late seventies sitcom ‘Soap’.
The media in particular has descended into a convoluted and confusing soap opera and nowhere was it more confusing than the contrasting front pages of the Sun north and south of the border yesterday with the Scottish Sun instructing us to vote SNP to keep the Tories out whilst the English version of the same paper urging its readership to vote Tory to keep the SNP out.
What a difference a referendum defeat makes though as instead of cowering away licking their wounds the Yes campaign seems to have galvanised itself into something even stronger and Scotland rather than re-assuming its role as an errant mistress or embittered and frustrated wife has awoken from its sleepy political slumber and is crying out to be heard. With less than a week to go let’s hope that this newly found strength continues and that the two main parties don’t reach some compromise which silences the Scots yet again. This time I think the voice is too loud and its argument too strong to ignore.
Tonight sees Neu Reekie hold an excellent sounding night of music and spoken word at La Belle Angele featuring The Sexual Objects, The Merrylees and Liz Lochhead amongst a cast of thousands. Well maybe not thousands but close enough. Starting early -6pm- and with such a line up I challenge you to find better value for a fiver anywhere in any city tonight!
On Sunday Spectorbullets , centring on the Gustaf Heden/Russell Burn power axis, are hosting an evening of musical entertainment at The Safari Lounge in Abbeyhill from 8pm. Also offering a host of guests I can’t think of a better way to spend a bank holiday Sunday.
This week saw Nick Cave return to Edinburgh and turn in a totally astounding set which featureD less full on dynamics than his recent tours and let the songs speak themselves. Definitely a highlight of this year so far and definitely a hard one to beat- I reckon Patti Smith performing ‘Horses’ in its entirety in June will give him a run for his money though- a full review can be found here.
Out in the cinema it looks like the next big film for me will be ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ starring Tom Hardy. Not out until May 14th I am already looking forward to this one as I am looking forward to the Teen Canteen hosted night ‘The Girl Effect’ at Summerhall next Saturday (May 9th) focussing on the music of girl bands and in support of Scottish Women’s Aid. More about this next week nearer the time though.

JUST AN OBSERVATION

Just an Observation
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Well that might just have been the summer then! Beautiful sunshine, unseasonably high temperatures and a general sense of joie de vivre all experienced over the last week seem to have been replaced by a chilly haar with the temperature likely to drop to that more familiar to the beginning of March than the end of April or beginning of May. Let’s just hope then that the forecasters have got it wrong and once the fog clears we are left with bright sunshine which extends itself through the next few months and then some.
Likely?
There is always hope!
Certainly things are picking up around town though. Tonight’s opening at The Whitespace Gallery in Gayfield Square ‘The Antifucktarianists’ features work by four Edinburgh artists- Martin Metcalfe, Jade Gemma Cruickshank, Anjila Wilson and Oskar Kickasso – whose work aims to deconstruct the propaganda of the said F***tarianists of this world. Certainly it is a novel premise and one which captures the feelings running high in the run up to possibly the most important General Election for Scotland in recent memory. Not that this exhibition focuses on the upcoming election however as it is much wider world view which lies at its heart. Certainly one to catch whilst it hangs around which won’t be for long so get there this weekend if you can.
Over at the Gallery of Modern Art the Roy Lichtenstein show is still on and if you haven’t seen this most impressive and comprehensive collection encapsulating both the earlier and later works of one of the leading lights of Pop Art-possibly second only to Warhol in being instantly recognisable- then I suggest you do.
There is plenty of time to see this however as it is showing until January 2016 but with tourist season, school holidays and then the Festival on the horizon I can’t think of a more perfect time to go than now. The Gallery of Modern Art and its surroundings are probably at their most beautiful and relaxed during spring making the experience so much more worthwhile and pleasurable.
Tuesday sees Nick Cave return to the Playhouse as part of his latest British tour. Certainly a musical legend this is definitely one of the must see gigs of the season- Patti Smith performing ‘Horses’ in Glasgow in June definitely THE most essential- and as Cave has no new album to promote, unlike 2013’s tour which drew heavily from that year’s excellent ‘Push The Sky Away’ opus, I am expecting a set to draw heavily from his vast and extensive career in equal measure.
Next Friday (May 1st) Neu Reekie are also hosting a musical/literary extravaganza in honour of their launch of a poetry anthology amd double album at La Belle Angele featuring The Sexual Objects ,The Merrylees, Liz Lochead, Michael Pedersen and an equally impressive cast list of thousands more. Well, maybe not thousands but you get the gist; an early start for this one-6pm- and an early finish too making it the perfect start to any weekend.
Out at the cinemas the ‘Final Cut’ of the classic ‘Bladerunner is still showing so that is also a must see in what is already shaping up to be a busy week ahead.
Been a relatively quiet week on the election front this week although it would seem that the SNP led by Nicola Sturgeon-who remains steadfastly cool in the face of all the insults hurled her way- seem to have the establishment on the run. It would appear that democracy is only democracy if it is at the hands of the Conservative or Labour parties and anything voted for by the people-especially those in Scotland who have gone from being so important to the UK when they threatened to leave mere months ago but now that they might have a say in the next government are being demonised beyond belief and recognition- is not democracy at all but holding the country to ransom. Seeing those two main parties running scared and realising their time as overall rulers may actually be up is so encouraging. If this results in a major shift in British politics and those two major parties are no longer able to get their way then this can only be a good thing!
Oh and if you get a chance-I suggest you make one- then watch the short political satire ‘Jim Murphy: Saviour of the Union’-just google it and click on the link- trust me when I say it is excellent!

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