Pianodrome

Leith Theatre
Saturday 16th November, 2019


Off to the old Leith Theatre we went. For those who don’t know it, it’s a fabulous old building from the 1920s, with tiered seating and a huge ballroom, which has been given a new lease of life after falling into disrepair in the 60s. Well here we are, with less than 60 days before we usher in the 20s again and the place couldn’t be livelier.

Folk have arrived for the early opening time for the Moon Party, which is a bit unusual for Edinburgers, who tend to come late and not want to go home after! What’s the fuss about? Well the Pianodrome is the world’s first amphitheatre made entirely from up-cycled pianos. It’s a 100-seater amphitheatre constructed from over 50 discarded pianos, it promised an immersive night of live music, DJ beats, projection art and glow-in-the-dark performances set within the Pianodrome that is installed in the main auditorium of the Leith Theatre.

As soon as you step foot into the circular construction you can see that everything, seats, steps, chair backs etc are all made from wood salvaged from the old pianos. It has been built as a sculptural interactive amphitheatre. The event we went down for was the ‘Moon Party’ which was the official launch party of Pianodrome’s ‘resonancy’ at the venue, which will run from 12 November – 8 December 2019. This event is jointly produced by LeithLate & Pianodrome. It is part of the LeithLate19 events programme, supported by City of Edinburgh Council and Baillie Gifford.

An event, nested in another event, joined on to another event, a musical Ménage à trois, covering jazz, world, folk, light performances by Think Circus. And the evening rounded off with DJ, Joseph Malik on the 1s and 2s. We were greeted by Martha at the box office and the welcome couldn’t have been… more welcoming! She told us that the Pianodrome was actually an interactive sculpture before the performances started at 9. So go and get stuck in, and be sure to stop by the Merch’ store, where there were some mighty fine t-shirts and some complimentary glow sticks and UV paint & sparkles. All glittered up, we grabbed some drinks from the delightfully kitch, shabby-chic bar and went to settle in. Worth noting was the attitude of all the staff, from security to bar staff to all the punters, everyone was happy, smiling and ready for a fun night.

A hush came over the auditorium/Pianodrome as the first musicians took their places. Lizabett Russo, a humble Romanian songstress and musician, supported by guitarist Graeme Stephen, who created sounds, using samplers and loops to great effect to fill the place with haunting melodies, which captivated all. I couldn’t put my finger on where exactly the music sounded from but at times it seemed middle eastern, Icelandic and even Japanese, supported by strong folk roots.

After a brief intermission the Chris Lyons Gypsy Jazz Quintet kicked off. I was particularly impressed by the trumpeter but the ensemble, who were all obviously accomplished musicians, failed to connect with the room until their energetic finale song. I was disappointed this wasn’t followed by more of the same. By now the place was really buzzing and it was a great place to connect with your fellow audience members. Everyone was really open and friendly, sharing an appreciation of the performances.

Lights dimmed for the Lunar performances by Think Circus. Juggling with light-up batons and a glow-poi, which morphed into a double act, which I have not seen before. Their creativity was a great segue into the DJ for the last couple of hours.

I can’t emphasise just how good DJ Joseph Malik was. The tunes he was playing out were eclectic, wide-ranging and covering multiple genres. He kept the musical narrative tight and full of energy. Malik had everyone up dancing, not just mindlessly moving to beats, but actually listening to the music and it felt like everyone was fully appreciating his 2-hour set. I will be digging out my dancing shoes any time I hear he is performing in the future. Really danceable and a wonderful way to bring the Moon party to a close.

Ian Clark

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