Sorry. I’m a bit late with this. The gig was last Friday evening, and I was supposed to write it up and post within 24hrs. But first of all I had a bit of a cider hangover (thanks Bruv, Gordon & Ali), which took out Saturday. Then I ended up working all the way up on the Cumbrian coast on Sunday (took me so long to get back I missed the World Cup Final). And finally I got an email from Michael Hann on Monday morning saying that The Graun wouldn’t be using the review even if I sent it! So that kinda took away any sense of urgency I might have had.
The Bow Bar is turning into a veritable honey trap for Spillers of late. Last month’s victim was Tatanka Yotanka who braved the throngs for a couple of swift pints prior to Barb Jungr at the Queen’s Hall, while I bolted for the door just in time to see Coriolanus at The Playhouse. Conversation ran the full spectrum from what ails to Grauniad, to the art of cabinetmaking and the joys of London life. Anyway, here is our round up of some of what we saw in Edinburgh 2013.
The Beijing People’s Art Theatre had a unique take on staging Shakespeare, employing TWO heavy metal bands (Miserable Faith and Suffering, death metal but turned down from 11 on this occasion) in their production of Coriolanus. I had studied the play for the Irish equivalent of the A levels, and it seemed an odd choice for the Chinese Ministry of Culture to get involved in. what the implications of political power being exerted from the bottom up, and there is a telling comment about the difficulty in reasserting power once it has been ceded to the people. An entertaining evening, somewhat tempered by a lack of any menace in a 100 strong chorus.
The Summerhall venue had a terrifically varied programme this year. Song Noir by Pumajaw brought a Lynchian approach to cabaret from Pinkie McClure and John Wills (ex-Loop), the highlight was an inspired take on the Peter Gunn theme with Maclure taking Mancini’s riff while Wells conducts a mash-up of what could be Dazed & Confused era Jimmy Page v The Prodigy. One of sport’s great rivalries forms the backdrop to Jamie Wood’s Beating McEnroe, an entertaining and immersive story of bitter defeat as tasted by his six year-old self. The yin and yang of Wood’s battles with his older brother are projected – sometimes literally – onto the epic Borg/McEnroe clash. A dollop of slapstick and the help of some only too willing members of the audience make for a startlingly bonkers finale with loss avenged in Wood’s inimitable hands-on fashion.
Pippa Bailey’s Biding Time (Remix) is a beguiling multi-media exploration of the battle between art and commerce. First performed in 1987, it has been revived and remixed in a collaboration with Louise Quinn (and A Band Called Quinn), film-maker Uisdean Murray and Grid Iron’s Ben Harrison and benefits enormously from advances in technology over the last quarter of a century. Music and sound production are delivered to the audience via silent disco headphones, making the experience unworldly yet hyper-real. Louise Quinn’s songs and performance are strong in their own right and the production benefits from the story’s parallels with her surreal experiences in the music industry. I understand that this production will be touring next year, so it may be coming your way.
Off to the Scottish National Gallery on Princes Street where you can still catch the Peter Doig exhibition until the 3rd of November. Doig has been fairly and squarely reclaimed for Scotland on the basis of being born and resident in Edinburgh until the age of three but in truth he’s been elsewhere for most of his life; Trinidad and Canada before art school in London and then retracing his steps back to Trinidad, painting all the while. The exhibition title ‘No Foreign Lands’ reflects that journey and, coming as it does from fellow Auld Reekian (“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveller only…”) Robert Louis Stevenson, it bolsters the Scottish connection.
The show is of works from the last ten years in Trinidad. Doig works a lot from photographs of scenes that resonate with him so there are quite often various versions of, or excerpts from the same subject and this show is a chance to see a few pairings of these which is a bonus. Doig is a figurative, painterly painter who revels both in the medium and the depth of art history at his disposal, happy to quote at will from a range of other artists. If you have even the most cursory knowledge of painting over the last century and a bit you’ll soon have at least half a dozen names in your head as points of reference and the notes by the paintings are not shy of listing them either. Mine were Gaugin, Rothko, Bacon, Manet, Caulfield, Hopper and Jasper Johns for starters. This isn’t to suggest that the work is simply derivative, a better analogy would be with sampling in music; a painterly riff here, a structural backbeat there, a high class guest on backing vocals.
An enjoyable show and certainly recommended if you can get there in the next eight weeks. Many large scale pieces which range from decoratively atmospheric to deeply engaging. A room of hand painted posters for film shows from which you can trace the graphic tendencies of some of the larger stuff, plenty of his working out in the form of sketches and photographs. It may be his method of working from an already captured image but the most moving of these works have that veiled quality of a moment of dreamtime, the kind of sepia distance in which you feel you are reaching back to engage with something already lost to you.
Barb Jungr at Queens Hall was a night approaching perfection. She’s been touring her ‘Stockport to Memphis’ album set for much of this year and I’ve caught it in various smaller venues. Here we and accompanist Simon Wallace were blessed with a fabulous grand piano, a beautiful acoustic and Barb singing with the freedom and inspiration that comes from being on top of your game. One of those nights where audience and performer conspire to make the silences as important and moving as the songs. Here’s Barb talking about Stockport to Memphis.
Tatanka’s reason for being in Edinburgh this year in particular was to support the young folk from Shatter-point Theatre who were breaking their Fringe duck and presented eight nights of improvised comedy under the name of A League of Ordinary Gentlemen – What Happens Next? A well tested format of building an hour long show from audience suggestions was given added momentum by youthful vigour, irreverence and liberal silliness. Highlights included the pirates from Jersey chancing on the land of the Beyoncés, captured here in glorious Dimmovision by TYTV.
That concludes the report from the Edinburgh jury. Join us next year for some art, larks and of course beer.
1: sunny afternoon (much to the relief of the host).
2: invitees who sent their apologies for absence.
3: barbeques lit at once to keep this lot fed.
4: RRers in attendance.
5: long-suffering spouses / other adults who put up with the motley crew you see here.
6: empty wine bottles in the recycle bin this morning (don’t even ask about beer bottles!).
7: vegetable kebabs left uneaten at the end of the day (everything else got wolfed).
8: kids running free round the DsD garden.
9: hours the event lasted before the last of us crashed out.
My thanks to saneshane, DaddyPig, gordonimmel and their families for the wonderful time I had – I dunno about anyone else …
Therefore, huge apologies if my vigilance to the cooking detail to mean I was a less-than-attentive host to our guests.
And my even huger apologies (as well as my undying love and admiration) to DsMam for the unflappable way in which she dealt with an invasion three times bigger than she was expecting – my fault entirely.
There was just one detail missing: we failed to exchange the contractual-obligation CD-Rs necessary for the event to be granted fully fledged RR Social status. *** That doesn’t mean there was no music: oh no no no. Here’s one from an album played on the day that Shane and I have discussed several times over the years. ***
But I digress – I humbly submit to the committee that there were sufficient alternative goods and chattels changing hands for official Social standing to be approved. Can we vote? Let me count the hands . . . . .
It happened over a month ago. Abahachi was in Edinburgh to simultaneously prevent the decline of modern civilization and uphold standards in the field of understanding ancient ones. You guessed it, he was putting staff and lay about students through the mincer as external examiner. Who needs Michael Gove – although the Prof did lead me to believe that Persia may not be his chosen subject.
Now this is all very thirsty work, so the Prof, having previously been thwarted in attempts to find the beer, saw fit to engage the services of a specialist. Nobody in their right mind ever walks past the Bow Bar on Victoria Street and IMHO it is just as much a cradle of civilization as the Persian plateau: no TV, no piped music, no hen/stag parties – just beer and whisky.
Strong beer merged seamlessly with strong opinions on everything from a shared affinity for Deutschland to Nile Rodgers, and the art of hot & cold smoking. The cultural summit was sealed with a communique confirming Giorgio Moroder as our favourite track on Random Access Memories and the exchange of gifts – Karl Bartos CD for the Prof, nice bottle of home brewed beer for the Llama.
I’m going to be in Edinburgh at the beginning of June – unfortunately only during the week rather than at the weekend – and was wondering whether anyone was likely to be free for a quick drink on the evening of Tuesday 4th or Wednesday 5th June (nothing too heavy, as I’ll have to be serious and academic the next day). Obviously the main reason for asking is that I have hitherto failed to find any decent beer there, and hence was hoping that some local knowledge might help…
I saw a mention of a forthcoming Peter Doig exhibition in the Grauniad last year, and now finally it’s been announced – August 3 to November 3 at the Scottish National Gallery. I’m a huge fan and will certainly be visiting Edinburgh to see the show, so I’m wondering whether any RRers will be going too, and whether we can get a Social organised. Indicate your interest in the comments!
I’ve already got my ticket for this – it was only £13! – and I was thinking it would be really great if some of you others could come too! It’s a Thursday, so not very good for a social, but we could have a drink beforehand at least.
Darrell Scott is an American singer-songwriter in the Americana mould – you may know him from tfd afasarae You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive. Danny Thompson is a bass player best known (to me) for his work with Richard Thompson (no relation) and the Pentangle; but he’s played with loads of other people as well, and he plays in many styles. Darrell and Danny made a live album a while ago, and here are a couple of tracks to show you the sort of thing.
So, on the assumption that the noise they’ll make will be similar to that…here’s where you can book!