From the many festivals to the colossal concerts at the Castle and Murrayfield to the fabulous six-week Christmas programme and more, it’s been another jam-packed year in the Capital for those who like to get out and enjoy themselves – and to think, there’s still the gargantuan beast that is Edinburgh’s Hogmanay to come. We asked some notable names from the Capital to give us their cultural highlights of 2015.
IAN RANKIN, CRIME WRITER
I’ve been trying to keep track of various purchases, so I can tell you I bought twice as many albums as books this year (100+ versus 50+).
My album of the year is Matador by Gaz Coombes. I also really enjoyed The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s Musique de Film Imagine, Kathryn Williams’ Hypoxia and The Sovereign Self by Trembling Bells. My book of the year is The Last Pilot by Benjamin Johncock. Other books I really enjoyed include Jenny Offill’s Dept of Speculation and Jonathan Coe’s Number 11. My favourite film of the year – no contest – was Mad Max: Fury Road.
JAMES DEAN DIVINE, AUTHOR
My wife, Trish, and I went along to see James Morrison on his return at the Queen’s Hall in November after his much publicised self-extraction from mainstream music. We’d been to see him a few times before and really enjoy the energy the guy throws out along with his incredibly powerful music. We were surprised at how a young man with the world at his feet could suddenly drop it all and go into exile.
He was nervous for the first couple of songs as this was his first gig for a long time, but the crowd were incredibly supportive, cheering his every utterance. The sound was brilliant, his new songs are going to become classics and his voice is improving with age. Becoming a father has worked wonders for him.
DANIEL SLOSS, COMEDIAN
Summerhall is a venue that continues to blow my mind. Myself and Tom Stade were filming a sitcom in January and we needed a hospital, an office, a boardroom, a dungeon, a Second World War bunker, a room with cages, a desolated landscape, a nursery, a pub and several other ridiculous set-pieces... Summerhall had every single one of them.
The place is huge and amazing. And it’s a miracle that we didn’t get arrested at any point considering we were constantly walking round this building with replica assault weapons (it’s a very ridiculous sitcom) and no-one batted an eyelid. Mental place, lovely staff.
RADIO FORTH BREAKFAST HOST ANDY ‘BOOGIE’ BOUGLAS
Seeing Fat Boy Slim at T in the Park at Strathallan in July in the King Tut’s Tent.
I’ve been to T in the Park about a dozen times but had never seen FatBoy doing his thing before.
Watching DJs perform live on stage is a growing art (the likes of Calvin Harris and David Guetta are appearing on the main stages at festivals around the world). The light show, the visuals and how Norman Cook interacted with the audience was a master class from the original festival headline DJ.
Incredible light show, video, lasers and some of the best tunes from his amazing back catalogue. Brilliant.
LUCY RIBCHESTER, NOVELIST
A first, but sadly also a last for me, my event of the year was Sylvie Guillem’s farewell tour, Life In Progress, part of the festival. It was an incredible year for dance, both in the Fringe and International programmes, and this really kicked things off with fireworks. Guillem, 50, has danced with Paris Opera Ballet and London’s Royal Ballet. There’s a lot of hype about various dancers and you do always wonder whether they’ll live up to it, but in Guillem’s case, within minutes of her opening it was clear there was something incredibly special about the quality of her expression.
The more dance I watch the more I find older dancers more interesting than younger ones. There’s a concentrated emotion to their movement – you could see it last year on Pina Bausch’s Tanztheater Wuppertal too. I hope Guillem dancing to 50 will inspire others to stay longer on stage.
ELLE EXXE, POP SINGER
My highlight event of 2015 started in the early hours of 1st January at the Waverley Stage for Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Street Party. Young Fathers absolutely smashed it before Twin Atlantic took to the stage to give one of their best performances to date. The clock struck 12 for an epic fireworks display followed by Edinburgh’s whisky-fuelled hearty rendition of Auld Lang Syne before Twin Atlantic returned to finish what they’d started. Our New Year celebrations always make me proud to be an Edinburgh lass.
TONY BLACK, WRITER
I saw James Grant, the frontman of the recently reconvened Glasgow supergroup Love & Money doing a solo gig at The Queen’s Hall in May. He did a few of the group’s old hits, but mostly it was stuff from the excellent new solo albums. He’s a raconteur and a real wit in between sets, so you always get more than your money’s worth with Grant. Such a great voice too – real depth, and possibly our most skilful songwriter today, so always someone I try to catch when he’s in town.
DEAN OWENS, MUSICIAN
I love the old school feel of the Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats record. It’s out on the Stax label and definitely has the spirit of Otis and a little touch of Sam Cooke about it, plus dare I say it even I hint of old Dexy’s. He sings like a demon on this new record. There’s great brass and harmony vocals going on and the record has a real live vibe. Sounds like it could have been recorded in an old Honky Tonk.
LORD PROVOST DONALD WILSON
Edinburgh’s Lord Provost is the Chair of the Tattoo Board. He said: “I’ve been lucky enough to experience the magic that is the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo year-on-year and the 2015 festival really was the best yet.
“As Chair of the Tattoo Board, I get a real insight into the health and development of the festival and how it is received internationally. I took an influential Middle Eastern sheikh to experience it this summer and he was so impressed, he bought tickets for all of his immediate and extended family to visit again as soon as they could. The feedback from all over the world is amazing and makes you feel so proud of the city, yet there are many local people who are yet to give it a try.
“If anyone wants to know what it’s all about and why it has such a fantastic reputation, do give it a visit in 2016. The Tattoo is thinking of expanding to take in the Gulf and even China, but the legendary place to experience the Tattoo will always be Scotland’s Capital.”
POLLYANNA MCINTOSH, ACTRESS
Tangerine is my film of the year and my family Christmas movie, though there is nothing “traditional” about it.
It’s set on Christmas Eve in the hot sizzle of LA’s sun-soaked, horn-honking streets where the only snow is street-grade or doughnut frosting but the spirit of friendship, forgiveness and family glows like a warming fire.
Taken on a trip with ordinarily marginalised, outsider characters its universal themes bring up what we hide, what we seek and where we find shelter when we’re lost.
Vivid, exciting, raw, kinetic, uproarious, filled with humanism and humour; it had me enraptured from the first frame.
Oh, and it’s shot on iPhones with added filmic apps and looks gorgeous.
Inspiring to me as a first-time filmmaker, as an actress and as a film lover, I will be hooting, hollering and hugging with my sisters watching this one again over the holidays.