EIF 2018: The Light on the Shore music programme

Light on the Shore will be a 16 night celebration of Scotland’s music-making, featuring The Jesus and Mary Chain, Mogwai, Django Django, The Pastels, The Fire Engines, Lydia Lunch, Alan Cumming and more

Article by Jamie Dunn | 02 May 2018

We received a taster of what the Edinburgh International Festival's Light on the Shore contemporary music strand would look like when Fergus Linehan launched the programme for EIF back in March. Today, the full Light on the Shore season has been revealed and it looks to bring an ambitious, diverse and rich selection of Scottish music to Leith Theatre throughout August.

“The Light on the Shore season reflects the breadth and depth of music-making in Scotland across genres and decades,” say Hidden Door, who are one of the Light on the Shore programmers and have been instrumental in turning Leith Theatre into one of the city’s finest venues. “It also celebrates the connections and collaborations found within the music scene in Scotland, inviting artists and organisations to either collaborate, play together, or celebrate the most exciting and influential musicians on their playlists.”

The line-up represents a who’s-who of music talent from these shores. Dozens of artists, bands and collectives will step outside of their usual schedules to perform or shape evenings which span decades and cross musical genres. We already knew some of the acts announced, but the final line-up is wonderfully eclectic.

Kicking off with Mercury Prize-winner King Creosote on 9 August and coming to a close on 25 August with Club Cumming – gregarious Scottish actor Alan Cumming's riotous cabaret night which ran throughout the 2016 Festival – the 16 night season of Light on the Shore promises many delights.

Django Django, supported by C Duncan and Happy Meals, take over the theatre on 10 August, with Anna Meredith and Southbank Sinfonia performing Meredith's SAY-winning album Varmints in full the following evening. Another must-see will be performances from EIF regulars Mogwai, who play a pair of headline shows on 22 and 23 August, while Berlin musical collective s t a r g a z e present Boards of Canada’s first EP Hi Scores on 25 Aug. 

Light on the Shore also brings together some of Scotland’s most daring and innovative festivals to programme their own nights throughout August. Celtic Connections welcome Le Vent du Nord and Julie Fowlis to Leith on 13 August, while Hidden Door presents The Jesus & Mary Chain, Honeyblood and Spinning Coin on the following night.

Edinburgh spoken word and music curators Neu! Reekie! presents two nights. The first features New York no wave legend Lydia Lunch alongside Edinburgh post-punkers The Fire Engines and krautrocker Michael Rother of Neu! (12 Aug). The second sees Jamaican-British dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson alongside Glasgow music legends The Vaselines and The Pastels (17 Aug).

Other highlights look to be singer-songwriter Carla J. Easton’s night Since Yesterday, which includes sets from Sacred Paws, Bossy Love and The Van Ts (24 Aug); an epic Lau Land night, which features Joan As Police Woman, LAU, Nadah El Shazly, Rona Lightfoot and Brighde Chaimbeul, James Holden and the Animal Spirits, Alasdair Roberts and Whitburn Brass (18 Aug); and Karine Polwart’s Scottish Songbook event, which we were told by Fergus Linehan will include tunes by Chvrches, Annie Lennox and The Blue Nile (16 Aug).

Light on the Shore isn’t just a salute to Scottish music, though. By providing cultural figures with a platform in Leith, the season hopes to both celebrate Scotland’s influence while welcoming people from all over the world to witness Scotland’s energy and vibrancy in Leith. “Presenting this project in the Leith Theatre marks the Edinburgh International Festival’s anticipated return to Edinburgh’s cultural nucleus – a part of the city that is home to many of the city’s creative scene,” say Neu! Reekie! “Leith is a cultural mecca and Edinburgh International Festival aims to leave a legacy for the community; opening doors and bringing people together through a unifying love and appreciation of music.”

The full lineup is below

Thu 9 Aug, 7pm – King Creosote with special guests
Fri 10 Aug, 7pm – Django Django + C Duncan + Happy Meals Saturday 11 August, 7pm
Sat 11 Aug, 7pm – Anna Meredith + Southbank Sinfonia present Varmints – Saturday
Sat 11 Aug, 10.30pm – Numbers Showcase + special guests
Sun 12 Aug, 7pm – Neu! Reekie! presents Michael Rother (Neu!) + Fire Engines + Lydia Lunch
Mon 13 Aug, 7pm – Celtic Connections presents Le Vent du Nord + Julie Fowlis
Tue 14 Aug, 7pm – Hidden Door presents The Jesus & Mary Chain + Honeyblood + Spinning Coin
Thu 16 Aug, 7pm – Karine Polwart’s Scottish Songbook
Fri 17 Aug, 7pm – Neu! Reekie! presents The Vaselines + The Pastels + Linton Kwesi Johnson
Sat 18 Aug, 7pm – Lau-Land with Joan As Police Woman + LAU + Nadah El Shazly + Rona Lightfoot and Brighde Chaimbeul + James Holden and the Animal Spirits + Alasdair Roberts + Whitburn Brass
Tue 21 Aug, 7pm – The GRIT Orchestra presents Martyn Bennett’s Bothy Culture
Wed 22 Aug, 7pm – Mogwai
Thu 23 Aug, 7pm – Mogwai
Fri 24 Aug, 7pm – Carla J Easton presents Since Yesterday with Sacred Paws + Bossy Love + The Van Ts
Sat 25 Aug, 4.30pm – s t a r g a z e present Boards of Canada’s first EP Hi Scores
Sat 25 Aug, 10pm – Club Cumming with Alan Cumming