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Cinema

Frank Sidebottom The Home of the Retrospective

MUSIC MUSINGS

The music scene in Scotland's Central Belt. We check out some gigs, and the occasional piece of recorded music. The emphasis here is heavily on rock, indie and electronic styles.

Edinburgh Fringe 2018: Pussy Riot: Riot Days @ Summerhall

N.B. Pussy Riot’s show runs between 10th-19th August 2018. The choice of support band varies between dates - The Ninth Wave (whom I have covered below) on the 10th and 12th, Rapid Tan on the 11th, Estrons from the 13th to 18th and Swoon on the 19th.

The much-anticipated arrival of iconic Russian activist group cum music collective Pussy Riot in Edinburgh came very close to falling through. Member Maria Alyokhina was stopped by border guards on her way out of her country on the grounds that she had refused to serve a spell of community service for her participation in a previous protest. However, she managed to get around this via travelling by car through Belarus (where the border security is reportedly more relaxed) and taking a flight from Lithuania. She arrived in Scotland’s capital in good time for their first of ten shows.

Link to an article in The Guardian dated 9th August 2018

Their support last night came from The Ninth Wave, a Glaswegian band who sound a lot like Echo & the Bunnymen and other 1980s post-punk/new wave/gothic outfits. Featuring two lead singers (one suitably androgynous male - Haydn Park and one female - Millie Kidd), they did their thing decently enough but didn’t quite set the world ablaze. Haydn livened things up a bit at the end by pretending to hang himself with his own mic lead (yes, really) but I had hoped for something more truly radical considering the headliners.

Pussy Riot’s set, on the other hand, was as incendiary as a hand grenade. They are pure punk in mentality. Their music mixes electronics, saxophone and impassioned spoken word monologues. The video feed alternates between lyric translations (from their original Russian into English), filmed footage (including of their protests) and cartoon-like drawings. All of these aspects come together to tell an eye-opening story of their fight against Russia’s corrupt Putin-Orthodox power hegemony, along with Maria Alyokhina’s own spell in prison with fellow collective member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova as a result of their impromptu performance inside Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow.

Above all, Pussy Riot are very much aware of their own iconic status beyond the borders of their own country (or countries, since they are joined by Kiryl Masheka from the Belarus Free Theatre company). They are an icon, a symbol of standing up for freedom of expression. The crowd’s closing cheers were some of the most ecstatic and sustained that I have heard in a long time. While technically-speaking, their music isn’t the best in the world, the experience of being in their presence was truly inspiring - a rare illuminating beacon of hope and resistance against a darkening world.

Do go and catch them before they return to face the inevitable backlash from the authorities. If you are standing near the front, however, be warned - you will get drenched in water thrown from the stage!

Watch a video:

Rating: ☆☆☆☆

Tickets are available from the following link:

Edinburgh Fringe 2018 logo

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THEATRE

Prehistoric at Summerhall

COMEDY