Review: Bjork

A much anticipated event in the gig calendar, Björk returned to Scotland for the first time in twelve years, playing the cavernous SSE Hydro. Her two-hour Cornucopia show is an immersive theatrical production based around her last album, Utopia; it’s her best album in years in my opinion, but its very particular and all-enveloping sound-world has apparently been a little too dense for some fans to penetrate – no worry, Björk is here to pull us in by our ears and eyes with her most ambitious stage show to date. For early arrivals, the auditorium is filled with the relaxing jungle insect and bird sounds that proliferate through the album, before the concert begins with the 17-strong Hamrahlíð Choir from Iceland, led by Þorgerður Ingólfsdóttir, its conductor for some fifty years. Amongst other things, they perform a deeply-moving Vísur Vatnsenda-Rósu, a traditional song which Björk herself recorded with the late Hector Zazou, and may well have learnt whilst a member of the same choir. Their set is dramatic, emotive and fun, and establishes a feeling of community and warmth, no small feat in such a large space.

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Review: Jupiter Rising 2019

It’s a little before 11am on a Saturday morning, and I’m at Jupiter Rising, a two-day festival of music, art, film, performance and dance held in the grounds of Jupiter Artland, the expansive and enchanting sculpture park just outside of Edinburgh. I’m one of a dozen or so people sitting in a small gallery space, held quietly enthralled by a performance lecture by Beatrice Searle, a meditation on how to approach a conversation with a stone which mixes research, readings, rubbings, personal anecdote, folklore and live stone-masonry to tell a moving story centred on the privilege and wonder of seeing something unique for the first time.

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Review: Working On My Night Moves, Fringe 2019

I loved Julia Croft and Nisha Madhan’s last fringe show, Power Ballad – a thought-provoking, uplifting and funny hour that sat somewhere between performance art, stand-up comedy and an improv-noise gig – so I was keen to check out this new work, pitched as a sci-fi exploration of feminist futures.

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Review: Eleanor Friedberger & Jennifer Castle

Our evening begins with touring support care of Canadian singer Jennifer Castle. Despite a contemporary sound on record, live and stripped-back these could be songs from any era, although perhaps most likely the early seventies. It’s a cold wet evening in Edinburgh, but we might be in a bohemian cafe in Greenwich Village. Castle’s delivery and country-folk-inflected guitar lulls us into her world, the songs frequently flowing into each other without pause. Audiences can get naturally chatty at the back when Sneaky Pete’s is full (tonight is a sold out show), but Castle effortlessly holds an already busy venue in an intimate hush.

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Review: On A Sunbeam by Tillie Walden

With On A Sunbeam (named after a Belle & Sebastian song), Walden has created an expansively imaginative universe with the “wow” level of a Hayao Miyazaki film, using it to frame a thoughtful and nuanced tale of romance, companionship and coming of age. It’s the sort of book which feels a little difficult to write about without spoiling any of the gradually unfolding wonder for any would-be reader. We discover this universe page by page, along with the protagonists, and it’s never less than a joy. At over five hundred pages, it’s a densely-packed book that allows for an indulgently slow read, but also has the page-turning pace of a good mystery – the sort of book where you’ll want to keep reading it straight through, but will also be reluctant to finish too soon.

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