It’s always slightly strange, settling in for a night of entertainment whilst seated in a church pew. But Neu! Reekie! certainly set out their anti-clerical stall from the get-go, kicking off their Leith St Andrew’s Church event with the animated gut punch of Priit Pärn’s pitch-dark Life Without Gabriella Ferri and James Blagden’s hallucinogenic Dock Ellis and the LSD No-No.
The evening’s first event proper was dedicated to 404 Ink’s exceptional Nasty Women collection – which, by coincidence, I’d been flipping through only the day before. It felt fortunate that I was already well-hooked on it, as its presentation here consisted of its publishers taking turns to read a smattering of sentences from around a dozen of its essays. Though very diplomatic of them, it also felt curiously flat, and I found myself longing for one or two of their authors to read some extended passages themselves.
Poet Clare Pollard, meanwhile, proved utterly hypnotic as she debuted her newest collection, Incarnation. Fully owning its half-unintended thread of motherhood, she closed with the extraordinary Suffer, which read like a grimly hilarious oratory on the conflicting messages about what can harm your baby. (Spoiler alert: turns out literally everything can harm your baby.)
Bill Drummond’s inimitable brand of conceptual art is always refreshing. This night’s intervention was no different, with Drummond shining shoes in the adjoining room as some pleasant folk fiddling wafted up through the main hall. Soon, he announced, he’d be doing the same in Hull, asking for his clients’ darkest thoughts as the only required recompense for their pair of newly-buffed sneakers.
Returning to film, there was the privilege of having three of Scotland’s preeminent animators – Ainslie Henderson, Will Anderson and Iain Gardner – each presenting some of their more light-hearted recent work: Stems, Pigeons Recite New Burns in Alloway and the music video for Looper’s Farfisa Song, respectively. This was followed by the world premiere of Bonnie Prince Bob and Siri Rødnes’ What Was Done, a Comic Strip-style satire about the positive aftermath of a Jeremy Corbyn premiership. Despite swiftly going on to spark controversy, here the film was met only with rapturous applause.
The evening came to a close with a brilliant set from up-and-comer Callum Easter, with the audience dancing in the aisle to closing number Feelings Gone as guest vocals from Leith Congregational Choir showed off the venue’s acoustics to their fullest. Easter’s debut EP, Get Don’t Want, is out now: if you listen to it, I highly advise you do so, wherever possible, in a very large church.
All photos courtesy of Kat Gollock.
For more on Nue! Reekie! and their future events click here.