Edinburgh Gin and the International Festival have indulged us with a rich programme of music titled Light On the Shore this year, which includes an evening with Django Django, C Duncan and Free Love, formerly known as Happy Meals. I had the pleasure of witnessing this gig down at Edinburgh’s new and stunning venue, Leith Theatre.
An insistent siren wail heralds the arrival onstage of Free Love, summoning drinkers from the adjacent bar room, before a bruising electronic beat reverberates through the main hall at Leith Theatre as the room gradually fills with an eager audience.
The Glasgow duo have taken up position at the front of the stage behind their shared electronics rig as they begin to weave melody lines, loops and samples into that thudding beat, concocting an enticing variety of disco-tronica. It’s not long before Suzanne Rodden steps out from behind the rig to boogie at the front of the stage, leaving her companion, Lewis Cook, to harness the musical hardware. Rodden leans into the audience as she alternates her vocals freely between French and English, and soon joins the crowd to sing from the dancefloor, wireless mic in hand, even vaulting onto the bar counter at the back of the hall for a brief acrobatic performance without missing a breath of her vocals.
C Duncan and his three-piece band need a couple of songs for their mellow, loungey sound to puncture the hall’s acoustics, which can tend toward soupy at lower volumes; but soon crisp percussion leads the band out of the murk, creating space in the sound for their urbane, intelligent music to breathe. Friends I’m watching with mention names like Scritti Politti and Prefab Sprout, and they’re not unreasonable comparisons. There’s certainly a distinct whisper of that sound in C Duncan’s neatly woven tapestry.
Django Django eschew spotlights on the individual band members to instead cavort energetically in the darkness beneath dramatic stage lighting and vast projections. There are initially echoes of Kraftwerk as vocoder vocals and fizzing synths tumble over assertive march rhythms, before surf guitars and tight vocal harmonies emerge, hinting at the group’s Beta Band DNA. From nowhere, a few bars of Blondie’s Rapture coalesce from a breakdown, irresistible enough to provoke dancing even from those seated up on the mezzanine level. At the encore, vocalist Vincent Neff takes a moment to remind us it’s a Friday night in Leith, and the venue erupts. The audience bounce with glee, hands aloft, while Django Django lead us into just the type of wild party Leithers are renowned for.
Photo courtesy of Ryan Buchanan.
For more on the Edinburgh International Festival’s Light On the Shore programme click here.