4 stars Fortune smiled on New Year’s Day events in Edinburgh this year, from an opening quasi-mystical invitational ritual that opened proceedings to the epic street theatre invocation of the dawn of time itself that closed it. Your Lucky Day was a smorgasbord of thirteen individual events that took place in assorted Old Town venues, but which was given a sense of cohesion by having the audience roll a dice to see where chance took them.
Many of the events were drawn from twenty-first century renderings of folk and roots culture, with bite-size turns from Rachel Sermanni at the Tron Kirk, Shane Connolly and Alasdair Roberts’ take on eighteenth century mummers play, Galoshins, at the Scottish Storytelling Centre and country swing from Stretch Dawson and the Mending Hearts at the Roxy.
Best of all was a sneak peek of Crows’ Bones, a luminous musical collaboration between Lau accordionist Martin Green, nykelharpist Niklas Roswall and the haunting voices of Inge Thomson and Becky Unthank. Their programme of spectral songs from northern lands was given an extra sense of drama by being performed in St Giles Cathedral. Commissioned by Opera North, Crows’ Bones is a must for this month’s Celtic Connections festival.
Ushering all this in at the National Museum of Scotland was Lady Luck – The Cult of Fortuna, a participatory ritual set beneath a huge inflatable altar, where temptresses sporting robes that looked lifted from a 1970s feminist science-fiction film invited onlookers to purge the old year and embrace the new,
All this faux-paganism in live art duo Walker and Bromwich’s latest exploration of public ritual was as quietly subversive as Your Lucky Day’s main body of events. As was too Big Bang, the latest street-art spectacle by Toulouse-based Plasticiens Volants. Using a set of ever-expanding psychedelic inflatables and comic strip projections flashing up a set of epochal events, Big Bang rewound history to tell the story of the universe as we know it. As evolution went backwards, a giant theatre in the sky rolled back the centuries with a sense of immersive grandeur.
With roots in hippy and rave culture, this large-scale meditation on life, the universe and everything had mass crossover appeal without any kind of compromise in artistic integrity. All of which left audiences hungry for the possibility of change very lucky indeed.
The Herald, January 3rd 2013