Hidden Door Festival: Anna Meredith + Marnie @ Leith Theatre, Edinburgh 26th May 2017
The Hidden Door Festival is an annual non-profit multi-arts festival in Edinburgh, now in its fourth year. This year it is taking place from 26th May to 4th June in the long-derelict old Leith Theatre, a venue currently undergoing restoration. For more details visit the website: http://hiddendoorblog.org.
One of several bands playing the main auditorium last night was Marnie - the Glaswegian former lead singer of the electronic band Ladytron. As similar as much of her music is to the likes of Goldfrapp, she delivers that uniquely electropop thrill and chill in a solid, and at times magical, fashion. Unfortunately the show last night felt a little reserved and sterile. A combination of the imposingly high theatrical stage and metal cordon didn’t help, especially when combined with a typically aloof Edinburgh crowd (come on guys, move forward just a little!) Even so, it felt like the band could have done a little more to reach out and connect, regardless of the logistics. The spine-jangling music plus impressive peripheral visual show, complete with elaborate lighting rigs impressively bathing the entire venue in an eerie neon atmosphere, combined with some abstract animated projections, did mitigate the proceedings somewhat.
Anna Meredith, with her distinctive blend of electronics, indie pop, prog rock, krautrock and classical music, made more impact. Looking back at the Edinburgh crowd there were clear signs of a loosening up, particularly further into the set. The stage was taken up by Anna (vocals, clarinet, keyboard and drums) plus her motley backing band consisting of guitarist, tuba player, cellist and second drummer, who combined to weave a beguiling audiovisual presence amid the venue’s overwhelming bath of light. Every track sounded not only like a different genre, but a different band, and yet each one displayed consistently impressive and evocative musicianship. The show might not have been in the audacious league of Public Service Broadcasting’s recent run-through of The Race for Space at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall, but I would have to argue that they comfortably outclass the latter musically. Yes, that good.