A razzle dazzle of a line-up, Queen’s Hall’s landmark birthday was celebrated in true style, with a programme of events curated by Edinburgh’s Neu! Reekie! team, classically combining spoken word with music. Literally illustrated by acts such as Aidan Moffat, Hannah Peel and Will Burns, Holly McNish and Steve Mason, there is a clever juxtaposition of both here, and all dynamically concluded with a set from local Leith drum band, Harbingers Drum Crew.
We snuck in just in time firstly for Hollie McNish’s smut poems, which were novel for the mere reason that there was live illustration surrounding her poems and it’s themes, mostly motherhood, genitalia and the headlines concerning David Cameron and pigs a couple of years back. Astute and evocative in her style, her poems often arouse a snigger or a gasp. Hannah Peel also performed a cover track, whilst playing her music box, offering an angelic sound to Cocteau Twins track, Sugar Hiccup.
And then we had Aidan Moffat for more smut I guess and much profanities during his rather disjointed set. Performing spoken word about the secrets he discovers in his son’s room as well as the intolerance people who love dogs have for those who don’t, there is no real thread throughout the set, and to conclude it he sings Where You’re Meant To Be, the track from the documentary starring Moffat. Aside from seeming unrehearsed and oddly compiled, the set excretes much laughter and lives up to the standard Aidan Moffat gig.
Hannah Peel, this time with the vocal instrument, Will Burns, took to the stage one more time to awe-impress us with her co-ordination and technical savvy, as she hit some knobs, faders and keys, as well as some strings to perform stunning tracks from collaborative album, Chalk Hill Blue. Juxtaposing synth and poetry there is a rather pleasing fusion of old tradition with modernity, and it certainly whets my musical appetite enough to want to check out more from this Northern Irish multi-instrumentalist.
Steve Mason’ s psychedelic set was made even more surreal by his insistence in playing Beta Band’s Dr Baker, taking several attempts to get it anywhere near right. Mostly performing tracks from his 2019 album, About The Light we were treated to some pretty new tracks and a fantastic set, despite the hiccup. And, well to finish it all off with a visceral drumming crew that put the en into energy just wrapped it rather nicely, reminding the crowd of the variety and vaudeville elements that culminate a Neu! Reekie! night, as that what it was really. Just with the added luxury of being in an Edinburgh institution and a swanky venue, and the whole evening of ents being illustrated by Tom Morgan-Jones.
Photos courtesy of Kat Gollock
Neu! Reekie! will also be at Coastword Festival on 24th May with another great line-up of music and spoken word