Mogwai to headline 2018 Edinburgh International Festival

A host of top indie bands including Mogwai (pictured) will perform at the reborn Leith Theatre. Picture: TSPL
A host of top indie bands including Mogwai (pictured) will perform at the reborn Leith Theatre. Picture: TSPL
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Mogwai, Django Django, King Creosote, The Pastels and The Vaselines will be among the Scottish indie, pop, folk and rock acts taking to the stage of Leith’s reborn theatre when it returns to the Edinburgh International Festival’s line-up for the first time in 30 years.

Organisers have announced they will be staging a show at Holyrood Palace for the first time as part of a programme which will have several signature events commemorating the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.

Hundreds of young people will get starring roles in two huge free events to be staged in the grounds of the royal palace and in Festival Square, with the latter opening the event.

Lothian Road will be closed by to traffic for the second time in four years to accommodate an EIF curtainraiser, which will this year be masterminded by Scottish composer and musician Anna Meredithand is expected to attract an all-ticket crowd of up to 20,000.

The former Scottish Album of the Year winner is joining forces with 59 Productions, the groundbreaking animation firm behind recent opening events, and the Imperial War Museum, to create Five Telegrams, a sound and visual spectacular inspired by telegrams sent by young soldiers during the conflict.

The war anniversary will also be marked in the palace forecourt, when the British dance artist Akram Khan choreographs a spectacular dance sequence tackling themes of identify, migration, connection and hope. Kadamati will be staged to coincide with an international cultural summit at the Scottish Parliament.

Khan, who is Bangladeshi descent, will be performing his last ever solo show, Xenos, which will honour the memory of the 1.5 million Indian men who were mobilised as colonial soldiers during the war.

Meredith, who was brought up in Edinburgh, will also be appearing in Light on the Shore, the line-up of shows being staged at Leith Theatre, which was a regular EIF before the venue fell into disrepair in the late 1980s.

It also played host to major pop and rock acts in its heyday, including Mott the Hoople, AC/DC, Thin Lizzy and Kraftwerk.

The city council recently earmarked £1 million to help pay for a major revamp of the building to allow it to stage shows throughout the year.

The Scottish Government is supporting the Light on the Shore programme at Leith Theatre with a £190,000 grant from its Festivals Expo Fund.

The venue will host a dedicated showcase of Scottish bands and musicians to coincide with an exhibition charting the history of home-grown pop and rock at the National Museum of Scotland. The EIF said a full line-up of events in the “unique season of concerts and events drawing together bands, orchestral ensembles, curators and festival organisers” would be announced at the beginning of May, when tickets will go on sale.

However it has been confirmed that Hidden Door, the event which temporarily reopened the building last May, will be curating its own EIF night as part of Light on the Shore. The line-up will also feature events put together by Edinburgh-based arts collective Neu! Reekie!, who have lined up The Pastels and The Vaselines.

Glasgow’s Celtic Connections festival will be bringing acts like Quebecois stars Le Vent du Nord and Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis to Leith. Bothy Culture and Beyond, the latest tribute to the musical legacy of the late Martyn Bennett, will be staged at the Playhouse to accommodate the acclaimed Grit Orchestra after the success of its recent show at the Hydro in Glasgow.

EIF director Fergus Linehan, who has admitted there is increasing uncertainty over the impact of Brexit on the city’s flagship cultural event, has unveiled a series of major French theatre and opera productions for his fourth festival.

The West Wing star Anna Deavere Smith’s solo show will tackle the United States’ so-called “school-to-prison pipeline”, while American singer-songwriter Annie Clark, who is better known as St Vincent, will be appearing months after performing at the Oscars.

The EIF will mark the Scottish Government’s Year of Young People by offering a platform to the largest number of young musicians in its 71-year-history, with 600 different performers from 50 countries due to appear across its line-up. Hundreds of concert tickets will also be given away for selected shows.

The Festival will host the semi-finals and finals of the Eurovision Young Musicians event. The final will be staged in the UK for the first time since the inaugural event in 1982, will be produced by the BBC and screened live across Europe.

The National Youth Choir of Scotland will have a special residency, while the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland is in the line-up, along with leading youth orchestras from Canada and the United States.

Among the classical stars given top billing are Edinburgh-born mezzo-soprano Catriona Morrison, who shot to fame after becoming the first British singer to win the BBC’s Singer of the World competition last year, and Ayrshire-born violin sensation and long-time EIF favourite Nicola Benedetti.

More than 2750 artists will be travelling from Sri Lanka, Rwanda, Germany, India, Ireland, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Poland and Hungary to perform at the Festival, which runs from 3-27 August.

Mr Linehan said: “One of the joys of working in the Festival is the opportunity to welcome the world to our country and to our city – and then to have a great party. We’re celebrating different cultures, showcasing Scottish culture, and telling many stories through many different languages.”