LeithLate - various venues, Edinburgh, Thu 13 Jun 2013 (4 stars)

LeithLate - various venues, Edinburgh, Thu 13 Jun 2013

LAW / Photo: David Scott

Sterling art and music evening based on and around Leith Walk

If there’s one criticism of LeithLate, it’s that there’s not enough time to take it all in. With performances and exhibitions taking place in 17 venues on and around Leith Walk, three hours is nowhere near enough time to get a taste of everything. You either have to be very selective, formulating a strict strategy for fitting in everything you definitely want to see, or just cast yourself to the wind and see where you end up.

With this latter strategy in mind, The List started off in the Brass Monkey Leith, watching a programme of short films from ECA animation undergrads. While there were some admittedly striking images on screen, those with dialogue generally suffered from being screened in a busy bar environment, although some – especially Ainslie Henderson’s ‘I am Tom Moody’, featuring the voice of Mackenzie Crook – still succeeded in conveying a certain level of poignancy.

From Brass Monkey it was a quick jaunt across the road to Elvis Shakespeare, where three-piece White Lightnin’ were just tuning up for a set of bluesy surf-punk. It was a suitably rambunctious and ramshackle soundtrack to a spell spent flicking through eclectic 7” singles and inhaling the heady old-book smell.

A short stroll up to I Heart Cafe landed us just in time to catch the second half of the Rally & Broad/Words Per Minute spoken word cabaret night. Rally & Broad’s Jenny Lindsay delivered sharp, efficient verses sprinkled with knowing local references, and some archly passive-aggressive scolding in-between (‘It’s alright, I’m a teacher – I’m used to no-one listening to a word I say’). Guest performer Vahni Capildeo was slightly less charismatic, falling prey to some classic spoken word stereotypes (most notably overwrought, portentous symbolism).

A couple of doors down, the Settlement Projects – a charity shop stocked with an eclectic range of artistic odds and ends – was the venue for an installation by artist William Darrell. Among looming aluminium ventilation shafts, a widescreen TV played a reel of Darrell’s short films: amusing sequences of Darrell trying out some adventurous home-made inventions, including an underwater breathing apparatus and an umbrella/bicycle hang-gliding contraption. Both were charmingly unfit for purpose, but the reactions from passersby as Darrell road-tested them in public were the real result.

The Travelling Gallery was parked further down the street, offering a glimpse of the Turquoise Heid exhibition, featuring works by Jock Mooney and David Shrigley. Shrigley’s ultra-short one-minute films were the highlight, with ‘Headless Drummer’ and ‘New Friends’ displaying the artist’s trademark grisly humour.

The main body of LeithLate now concluded, it was time for the official afterparty at Pilrig St Paul’s Church, where ­- proof of the night’s success [organisers reckon they could have sold out the church venue three times over] - many an unhappy reveller was turned away from the door. Inside, the line-up kicked off with dark, dubby R&B singer LAW, whose production (by kindred spirits Young Fathers) was satisfyingly textured, but whose cold, near-animatronic stage presence resulted in a lack of connection with the audience. Indie foursome TeenCanteen did a great line in unpolished garageband twee-pop, easy to dance to but at risk of becoming grating in a longer set. It was left to headliners Sparrow and the Workshop to get the lively audience really moving, though – after a set of swaggering alt.country-rock songs (largely lifted from latest album Murderopolis), they finished with their now traditional rendition of ‘I Feel Love’, setting the stage for DJs from The Egg to soundtrack the rest of the night.

Our reviewer only managed to see a fraction of the events on at LeithLate 2013. Were you there? If so, let us know your reflections on the night in the comments below.


LeithLate is a multi-arts festival that takes place across multiple venues in Leith, showcasing the very best in emerging artists, musicians, poets and filmmakers.