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What's On at the Edinburgh International Festival

The Edinburgh International Festival kicks off this week, and the Edinburgh Playhouse will be playing host to a wave of contemporary music and dance throughout August. The festival, which is now in its 69th year, showcases some of the most exciting and creative artists in the world, and we couldn’t be happier about the acts taking to our stage this year.


Monday 8th and Tuesday 9th August

Two of Canada’s most uncompromising performing arts groups – The Holy Body Tattoo and Godspeed You! Black Emperor – are coming together for two nights in this dance spectacular. Vancouver contemporary dance company The Holy Body Tattoo was founded over 20 years ago in 1993. Since then they’ve become the punk darlings of the international dance scene. These two Edinburgh International Festival shows will feature nine dancers on pedestals enacting the gestures of everyday life, caught in the machinations of love, war, chaos and death. The soundtrack to the piece will be performed by legendary Montreal rockers Godspeed You! Black Emperor. The end result is a violent, cathartic and horrifyingly beautiful piece that’s not to be missed.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor

Wednesday 10th August

The elusive Godspeed You! Black Emperor will return to the Edinburgh Playhouse stage for their own show following Monumental with The Holy Body Tattoo. If you haven’t heard of the Montreal band yet, then it’s probably got something to do with their legendary anonymity as they notoriously refuse to do interviews or press photos. They also very rarely play live, so this gig is sure to be something really special.  Their music is confrontational and fiercely political as they hit they mesmerise audiences with music that strikes right at the heart of your emotions. Come experience the band that are embraced around the world as an examples of the boundless potential of rock right here in Edinburgh.

Sigur Rós

Monday 15th & Tuesday 16th August

It’s not very often that Sigur Rós come to Scotland, so these rare performances are a chance for fans to see the Icelandic band up close. These concerts will give the band the chance to reveal an innovative new staging as they play us to some previously unreleased songs to their Scottish fans. Epic and ethereal, electrifying and elemental, the Icelandic post-rock giants create songs of transcendental beauty and overwhelming power. Across their seven acclaimed albums, Sigur Rós have forged an unforgettable music that overwhelms audiences around the world.


Wednesday 17th August

Hopelessness is the brand new album from ANOHNI, formerly known as Antony Hegarty, lead singer and songwriter for Antony and the Johnsons who scooped the Mercury Prize for best UK album of 2005. Working with ground-breaking producers Oneohtrix Point Never and Hudson Mohawke, ‘Hopelessness’ collides an uncompromising electronic dance soundtrack with ANOHNI’s soulful, uplifting vocals. This Edinburgh performance will be a mixture of film, dance and live music including tracks like single ‘4 Degrees’, ‘Drone Bomb Me’, ‘Obama’ and ‘Indian Girls’.

Mogwai and Mark Cousins

Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th August

Glasgow’s Mogwai are here for two nights to bring their majestic new soundtrack to life with a provocative documentary by film maker Mark Cousins. These shows are the first live shoes of Atomic in the UK, and will be the only performances to take place in Scotland this year. Atomic: Living in Dread and Promise is a fiery portrait of our atomic age, a powerful, visceral investigation of life and death in the nuclear age. With images of protest marches, Cold War confrontation, Chernobyl and Fukushima, Mark Cousins’ impressionistic film is a kaleidoscope of the appalling destructive power of the atomic bomb, and also the beauty and benefits of x-rays and MRI scans. The film combines rare archive footage with a live performance by Mogwai.


Tuesday 23rd August

Nae Regrets is the epic reimagining of Grit, the final album by pioneering Scottish piper, fiddler and studio Martyn Bennett. This live show brings together an 80-piece orchestra, plus folk and jazz instrumentalists and singers, many deeply associated with Bennett himself.

Martyn Bennett released five studio albums mixing Scottish traditional tunes with hard techno beats. He died of cancer in 2005, aged just 33. His close friend and musical collaborator, cross-genre classical violinist Greg Lawson, recast Bennett’s GRIT for full orchestra for the opening night of Celtic Connections in 2015, and brings it to the stage once again for this Edinburgh International Festival performance.