More Light on the Shore is cast upon the brilliant Leith Theatre with the arrival of Neu! Reekie! who curate this show among several nights. Something of a coup, it would seem to secure the services of one Michael Rother who, when among other projects, formed half of Krautrock pioneers, Neu! The same group inspired Kevin Williamson and Michael Pedersen to form their artistic collective in Edinburgh to promote music and poetry via various events throughout the city in recent years.
In light of tonight’s guests, Williamson has honoured an old promise to learn German if ever a member of Neu! was to answer the call. Bilingually then, we are introduced to The Honey Farm, “potentially the first, only and by default greatest Scottish female rap group of all time”. Politically charged and oozing energy these three ladies from Dunbar burst onto the stage and defy us not to dance.
The Fire Engines add to the ‘Reekie’ in the room.with two sets from their short but bright recording career. Davey Henderson is no stranger to the stage, even barefoot in a pair of bright pink underpants, a woolly hat and hooded foil blanket (Haar Mar Superstar?) In time honoured fashioned he starts In Heaven, evoking Eraserhead. The Fire Engines sound amazing and electrify us with their spiky detuned guitars and tribal rudimentary rhythms. Get Up and Use Me gets us going and Discord does too.
In a second set, Malcom Ross enters side stage to play slide guitar. Aptly this includes a TV Art cover version, pre-dating his more celebrated status in Josef K and Orange Juice.
Meanwhile, Henderson indulges in some nostalgia for this much revered venue where he saw Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel back in… (1975 sorry, Davey!) The blanket is dispensed with as Henderson lies on his back, teasing his tremelo to the max. Despite doing both he protests that “Drinking beer and chatting to the audience are so freakin’ boring!” Never pandering to their own popularity, The Fire Engines deprive us of both Big Gold Dream and Candyskin to leave us wanting more.
Their two set sandwich is filled by Lydia Lunch’s spoken word. A diatribe, wrought from a lifetime of railing against authority is aggressive, targeting her wrath at some in the audience amidst a hail of spit if not actual vitriol. Finally, her more tender thoughts on leaving a loved one who slips away from us. “What do you say to someone who has 30 days…hours…seconds to live?”
By contrast, Rother would also rather let his music do the talking. “Just to let you know I won’t be chatting too much” though his English is undoubtedly better than Williamson’s admirable display of Deutsch. Synth chords overlay a relentless driving Deutsch-Bahn train of classic motorik drumming with a simple two piece-stage set-up, mimicking that of Neu! Rother works through an extensive back catalogue also including Harmonia and his solo work.
Infectiously oscillating and nodding along, the audience includes a Scottish post-punk royalty of the aforementioned Ross, film director Grant MacPhee and Irvine Welsh is said to have been sighted.
For more on the Edinburgh International Festival’s Light On the Shore programme click here.