It is Day 3 of the Hidden Door Festival in Edinburgh and the once abandoned Old Leith Theatre has been transformed into a celebration of art, music, film and theatre. Tonight Spoken Word is taking over the Main Stage with Flint & Pitch curating one of their popular and engaging cabaret evenings. The event is titled Blistering Mischief and is a blend of music and poetry. It is compered by poet Jenny Lindsay, who also takes to the mic to perform her own work in between the wide variety of performers.
The evening kicks off with folk duo Dominic Waxing Lyrical. The band clearly like to play songs which tell stories. Distinct narratives are present in their work and a tune about the writer Susan Sontag seems to go down well with the audience. Jenny Lindsay returns to the stage to introduce the next act and also to recite one of her own poems. The title is This Script and is one of the highlights of the event. The clever wordplay and powerful delivery leads nicely to the first spoken word act of the evening, Michael Pedersen. He is a local poet who co-curates performance/music/film events with Neu! Reekie! Michael is a confident performer and seems at home on the big stage within the Leith Theatre. His storytelling skills are also apparent. He introduces each poem with an extended tale, which eloquently sets the scene for his expressive and animated poetry.
Spoken word artist Ellen Renton has teamed up with guitarist Ross Patrizio to provide a subtle and restrained live soundtrack to her poetry. The collaboration works well and keeps the Hidden Door audience transfixed on the words and music. Their last poem entitled Broken Record, effortlessly highlights how words and music can be brought together in appealing and uplifting methods. Like both Jenny Lindsay and Michael Pedersen who were onstage before her, Ellen Renton has the ability to connect to audiences and does so with sensitive words and vivid storytelling.
After a brief ten-minute break, the Blistering Mischief continues with the standout performer, Glasgow based solo singer/songwriter Heir of the Cursed. Her haunting vocals and delicate guitar playing are perfect for the dusty old venue. As she performers the audience remains silent and focused on her elusive and soaring voice which evokes the sound of Jeff Buckley at his most mesmerising. Headline act are six-piece band A New International. Their music is comparable Jacques Brel at his most extravagant and there is a distinct European feel about their uplifting songs. They close their set with a Polka which has the lead singer leaping around the stage in delight and is a fitting conclusion to an exciting and varied evening of poetry and music.
There is plenty more spoken word at the Hidden Door Festival, which ends on Sunday 4 June. Sonnet Youth, Inky Fingers, Shoreline of Infinity and many others are presenting poetry and storytelling at the Old Leith Theatre on Ferry Road.