Get ready for Neu! Leith!

Posted by in July's Magazine

Question: What do Brian Eno, Motorhead, David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Public Image Ltd, Joy Division, The Fall, Magazine, Teardrop Explodes, Primal Scream, Aphex Twin, Stereolab, Negativland, Oasis, Radiohead and Edinburgh’s own postpunk icons the Fire Engines all have in common?

Before I come to that here’s a tall and mostly true tale. Back in 2010 myself and a precociously talented young poet called Michael Pedersen met by chance, over a poem or two, the way these things happen, and having taken a liking to both him and his extended coterie of young makars and musos he coaxed me out of my post Rebel Inc cultural semi-retirement and we hit on the idea of launching a regular poetry, film and music showcase in Edinburgh.



First we needed a name. Something a bit leftfield, on the margins of avante garde, something that stood out, set the tone of what would follow, and reflected where we were coming from. After chewing it over we eventually decided on the name Neu! Reekie! replete with double exclamation marks. The exclamation marks were important. The name was clearly a play on Auld Reekie, our fine city’s historical and odoriferous nickname, but bringing it up to date. Neu! – pronounced Noy! – is German for New. Having an outward looking European inflexion was important to us.

There was another less obvious layer to the meaning of Neu! Reekie! as befits all things poetry. The Reekie part of the handle was a tribute to the larger-than-life Leither and incomparable genius of verse that was my good pal Paul Reekie. Paul had died earlier that year aged just 48. We wanted his attitude and presence to be part of what we were doing. A guiding light. The Neu! part of our name was hat tip and homage to the groundbreaking experimental German noisemakers of the same name, a favourite band of both Michael and myself.

To go back to the opening question the named artists have all acknowledged a debt to the band Neu! The list is far from complete. If I’d named all the artists influenced or inspired by Neu! it would have filled this entire article. Seriously. Not just individual bands or musicians but entire genres of music from punk and post punk right through to techno and electronica proudly trace their lineage back to the sound of early 70s Krautrock bands, especially Neu!, Can and Kraftwerk.

To put Neu! into perspective David Bowie’s acclaimed Berlin trilogy of Low, Heroes and Lodger – in my humble opinion the greatest three in a row ever, up to and including Stokes, Stokes and Gray – were heavily influenced by the sound of the early Neu! albums. Heroes itself is a direct nod to the Neu! track Heroon Neu! 75. It has even been claimed that Bowie originally asked Michael Rother to be his main collaborator on the Low album. Rother was in an early line up of Kraftwerk. After Neu! he co-founded the Krautrock supergoup Harmonia which included Brian Eno.

I could go all fanboy here and gush lovingly about how the first three Neu! albums released between 1972 and 1975 changed the face of music as we know it and deserve their place in the pantheon of modern music’s hall of key influencers alongside say Chuck Berry, Karlheinz Stockhausen, David Bowie, The Sex Pistols or Public Enemy. I’d then suggest those of you who don’t already know and love the music of Neu! to check out their back catalogue. However, I can go one better than that.

Michael Rother, the sole surviving member of Neu! is coming to Leith on 12thAugust. Not only will he perform a set of classic Neu! and Harmonia tracks at our newly refurbished Leith Theatre – as part of the Edinburgh International Festival’s Light On The Shore series of concerts – it will be to headline one of two Neu! Reekie! festival shows at the venue.

In case you didn’t catch what that means to us let me put it this way. After seven and a half years, where we’ve put on almost 200 shows all over the world, we’re finally going to have Neu! at Neu! Reekie! And it’ll be here in Leith, on our home turf. Even typing this out for The Leither is giving me goosebumps. Stoked doesn’t even begin to cover it.

In conjunction with EIF we’ve put together a line-up we believe is worthy of this occasion. The mighty Fire Engines, no strangers to these pages, will perform for what will be only the second time in the last 10 years. The legend that is Lydia Lunch – poet, musician, author, actress, filmmaker and mind-bending provocateur – will also be on the bill. We promise an unforgettable August evening in Port Sunshine.

For the landmark appearance of Michael Rother performing Neu! at Neu! Reekie! I’ve been learning to speak German since March of this year. So when Michael and myself introduce them on the famous Leith Theatre stage I’ll do my bit in German. Good Europeans that we are!

Es wird ausgezeichnet sein!




PIC CAP:The bold Williamson at Wide Days music convention

PIC CREDIT: Jannica Honey


Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *