14 August 2018
I wandered along to the Leith Theatre yesterday evening, to catch the second night of the Edinburgh International Festival’s “Light On The Shore” series of gigs. The line up was impressive: Free Love (formally known as Happy Meals); C Duncan; and headliners, Django Django.
The Leith Theatre has only recently been bought back into use, thanks primarily to crowd-funding for The Hidden Door Festival that takes place in Scotland’s capital around the month of May. It’s a much needed space, as there are currently precious few music venues for artists to perform in, in Edinburgh. So I was rather surprised to discover that the Leith Theatre was directly below the Leith Registry Office, where my late partner and I became one of Scotland’s first civil partnerships in December 2005.
The auditorium is rather splendid. Ample standing space at ground level, and plenty of seats up in the balcony for those who want to pay a little extra. Unfortunately I didn't arrive in time to see Free Love, but made my way towards the stage, as C Duncan began his set. I’ll be upfront here and say that he was the main reason why I was at the gig. Having seen Chris play live at Sneaky Pete’s and The Caves in Edinburgh, I know that he and his band put on a great show. Plus he’s one of the most politest and nicest gentleman that you’ll hear, both on and off stage.
C Duncan’s set contained lots of personal favourites from his Architect and The Midnight Sun albums: Like You Do; The Other Side; Jupiter; and Say. Each track punctuated with an introduction to a specific band member, or a short anecdote. What I hadn’t anticipated though, was the premiere of a new uptempo track entitled Holiday Home. “I only gave that track to the band two days ago,” Chris confided to us. If that’s a taste of what the new album will sound like, that I can’t wait to hear it in full.
In comparison to C Duncan’s dreamy set, Django Django was the complete opposite. A high octane performance that spat out track after track at us. And the audience loved it!
The stage lighting was deliberately set to an ambient mode, meaning that band members often appeared as dramatic silhouettes against the projected backgrounds. The outline of lead vocalist, Vincent Neff, could be seen at times either swinging his guitar around or smashing a snare drum. Synth player, Tommy Grace; drummer, David Maclean; and bassist Jimmy Dixon were all equally animated throughout the whole performance. All helping to work the energy levels in the room up to their maximum.
Obviously tracks from the bands most recent album, Marble Skies, featured heavily. Tic Tac Toe was a particular crowd favourite. However, for me, their reinterpretation of Surface to Air didn’t quite work. It must be difficult for the band to perform this track live, when the recording has such a graceful vocal by Self Esteem. But for a band that I’ve only really encountered on BBC6Music, they demonstrated to me that they are masters of their craft. The evening was rounded off by a crowd-pleasing rendition of Default.
In summary, an excellent evening’s entertainment in a great venue. Full marks to the Edinburgh International Festival for broadening their horizons and making music more accessible for both locals and visitors alike. I hope Light On The Shore becomes an annual event.