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Since Yesterday, Leith Theatre, Edinburgh

  • Published in Live

En route to the Leith Theatre I was caught up in a downpour. Never before have I looked in envy upon someone wrapped up head to toe in what looked like a wet banana. Why am I telling you this? Because it's my excuse for showing up ridiculously late to the Since Yesterday event, an event that ended up being something a little bit unexpected.

Unfortunately, I only caught the last two songs of The Van T’s act. What I did see however, was a band that gelled well, rocked well and thanked well (expressed extreme thanks for being involved in the event several times.) I have not followed the progress of The Van T’s but will be sure to keep them on my radar.

As I waited for Sacred Paws to gather themselves upon the stage, I had a look around the venue. It has only been a few months since I last attended an event there, that being Hidden Door. The large bar area was opened up to the public – I’m sure this was not on offer to us previously. Tonight’s entertainment was brought to us as part of the Light On The Shore with Edinburgh Gin Seaside. Thought I’d support that – so I participated by having a Gin and Tonic.

What can I say about Sacred Paws? Singer/guitarist Rachel Aggs is so completely likeable, you can’t help but smile throughout the set. She welcomed us in with her smile and I thought how rare it is to be addressed with such enthusiasm. Hers was the kind of stage banter that makes you feel like she’s talking to a small group of mates. Easy. Open. Silly and fun. Shoeless dancing, shimmying, hopping, the girl gets into it and looking around me, I could see more than just the usual head bopping going on. Halfway through the set, Aggs and drummer/vocals Eilidh Rogers treated us to their original band of two. It was so clear we were getting down with their post-punk poppin' indie attitude. Sacred Paws should be seen in the flesh – as much as I enjoy their music through my headphones on a crowded bus, experiencing their live show is a joy.

I wasn’t entirely sure what the rest of the night would unveil. Even after reading the info on The Edinburgh International Festival website, I think you would be hard pressed to predict how it was to fit together. The event was created to ‘celebrate the music of women-fronted Scottish bands and the new generation of musicians who are challenging the gender balance.’

The house band comprised of girls on keyboard, drums, guitars, bass and sometimes cello. They handled the quick changing genres with impressive dexterity. The Twinsets with Rachel and Gaye Bell were up first, looking relaxed and happy to take the stage. 'Walking On The Sand', written by their father, brought many smiles to the crowd. The Ettes followed and what a force! They introduced one of their songs by explaining that they wrote the song age 17 in a bedsit in Leith and here they were, performing it at the international festival.

Lungleg’s Jane McKeown belted out a mighty fine 'Kung Fu On The Internet'. Most of the acts were pretty quick, with only one or two songs to make their mini sets. I filed this one under ‘check her out when I get home’ as this was new to me. Having grown up in deepest darkest Nebraska, much of this hour was a revelation.

As the night progressed, I whirled around and took in the crowd behind me. This was one of those rare opportunities where I could have brought along my 18 year old daughter (if I had one), and my mother (if she weren’t in the States). Something for everyone? Seldom does a music event cater to such a variety of people. This made it even more exciting – the knowledge that celebrating women in the Scottish music scene had brought out people that might not usually venture into the venue or out for a night of tunes. It was apparent that many were having mental jaunts down memory lane and it was touching to see how affected many were by what was happening on stage.

Strawberry Switchblade were the final act in the string of female talent. By their second song they were warmed up and feisty. They had the crowd La la-ing along to 'Since Yesterday'. Again, the crowd were happily singing along and hey, if this was your first experience of them then what a great little introduction.

Bossy Love finished off the night with attitude and a black jumpsuit – a staple in many a performer’s wardrobe this season.  


Mogwai, Leith Theatre, Edinburgh

  • Published in Live

The music strand of the International Festival continues at the Leith Theatre with a blast of post-rock from Mogwai with support from Rev Magnetic.

Rev Magnetic are a project of Mogwai collaborator, Luke Sutherland. They have a similar use of dynamics to Mogwai in their songs often beginning quietly and building to a wall of distorted sound. The vocals are sometimes quiet and clear and sometimes processed to produce a robotic sound. The performance is notable for these contrasts of loud and soft, clear and distorted, simple and processed. A notable stage presence is Audrey Bizouerne who brings energy to the stage with a clear high vocal and a gusto to her bass playing that makes it seem like a lead guitar at times. The vocal arrangements are quite complex but when they work they produce an almost grand, choral sound. There is probably a lot of development to come from this band as they clarify that sound but it will be one worth following.

Mogwai follow and are greeted with great enthusiasm by the Leith crowd. Their stage set uses long coloured light boxes either side of a central gap which can sometimes appear like an abyss and sometimes like the gaps in parting clouds letting in the light. This abstract light show accentuates the moods of their music but never becomes too proscriptive in its interpretation.

The opening is the soft chiming of ‘Heard About You Last Night’ which acts like a call for the attention of the audience and then develops into a blissful dream of the previous night’s action with the occasional black regret of episodes best, but not, forgotten. The set continues with a mix of tunes but the early part is heavily from their most recent (non-soundtrack) album ‘Every Country’s Sun’ which they are just finishing touring. ‘Party In The Dark’ is an up-tempo celebration where the use of echo creates reverberations like the voices of a thousand strong choir. Other numbers have an even more ethereal effect with ‘Don’t Believe The Fife’ feeling at times like a grand deep ocean exploration submerged under a kilometre of water with the muffled, echoing of notes bouncing off caves and rift walls on the sea-floor.


A Mogwai gig is an opportunity to be enveloped in their sound starting quietly but often building to huge, trouser-flapping volumes. Theirs is music to stimulate the imagination. It’s like being a 12-year-old kid who has the gates of Jurassic Park opened for them and told to go play with the animals. Mogwai often have limited edition prints available at their concerts and, for this one, the picture of Godzilla breathing down fire on Edinburgh Castle seemed a perfect starting point for many of the imaginings that this gig brings to mind. The sound is often majestic but somehow never takes itself too seriously.


‘Coolverine’ follows with a stately intent and then there is the attacking discord of ‘Old Poisons’. The closing numbers are some favourites from earlier albums. Their version of ‘Remurdered’ is the epitome of the wandering slow-build of volume in Mogwai’s music to a climax in a grand layering of musical textures. The numbers build to a prog-rock length with the final encore of ‘My Father My King’ which could have scored the Mongol Horde thundering in their tens of thousands across the Steppe. A gig that in more than one way was a blast.

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