Anna Meredith (4 stars)

Anna Meredith

Anna Meredith at Edinburgh Park / Picture: Jess Shurte

Glorious set at the International Festival from Scotland's exciting contemporary composer and band of virtuosos

'Are you warm enough?' asked Scottish composer extraordinaire Anna Meredith to a sold-out International Festival crowd seated in the all-new and well-ventilated Edinburgh Park arena. Stood behind a podium comprising laptop, electronic keyboard, glockenspiel, a couple of drums, and her iconic clarinet (all of which she juggled in nearly every number), the South Queensferry-raised artist seems to be in her element. 'The drinks should help with that: thank you to those poor people!' she said, referring to the venue staff running around from chair to chair.

Accompanying Meredith were virtuosic bandmates (Tom Kelly on tuba, cellist Maddie Cutter, Jack Ross on electric guitar, and drummer Sam Wilson) who managed to create the illusion of a full orchestra. Everything was thought through, from the outfit choices (head to toe white with swirling black parallel lines which could also be seen on the stage design) to the geometric light projections dancing around behind them (shapes are said to be a big inspiration for Meredith's writing).

The orchestral instruments added more dimension to familiar tracks with intricate guitar loops played at unimaginable pace and dissonant sirens created by sliding notes on a cello, while the bass-like sound of Kelly's tuba rang loud in the pit of your stomach. At 75 minutes, the set covered a large amount of Meredith's discography (predominantly her 2016 SAY Award-winning debut album Varmints and 2019's Mercury-nominated FIBS), balancing louder and softer moments without skimping on her signature chromatic build-ups heard in the likes of 'Nautilus' and 'Sawbones'. Cutter took centre stage with her cello for one particularly beautiful yet transient piece while a surprise pop-inspired medley at the finale (complete with Abba choreography) was the light relief this audience needed.

Meredith's reputation now precedes her, being equally renowned for classical compositions and commissions for film, TV, adverts, and installations as well as for her critically-acclaimed genre-bending solo albums. The standing ovation proved that her music (although challenging to some) ought to be experienced live with its array of eclectic instrumentation and excitable finger pointing. Anna Meredith is dancing to the beat of her own drum (literally at times) and it's nothing short of glorious to watch.

Anna Meredith performed at Edinburgh Park, Friday 20 August.

Anna Meredith

  • 4 stars

International Festival favourite Anna Meredith returns to Edinburgh to perform her second album accompanied by her live band. After winning the 2016 Scottish Album of the Year award for her debut Varmints, Meredith’s latest release  FIBS  is a bright crossover of pop and orchestral tropes. Featuring synthesisers, electric…