The concept was that the night would be a special event at "Scotland's oldest knight club" (see what they did there?), Edinburgh Castle, showcasing young talents from across the arts and giving people a chance to explore the castle in neon light. It delivered accurately on that description.
Glasgow-based indie quartet West Princes opened, playing the courtyard before the sold-out crowd marched the drawbridge, past the burning crown torches, William Wallace and Robert the Bruce to enter the castle (which it’s worth noting is normally £16.50 to see around, given this event was £15).
All the exhibitions were open and available to stroll through, and seeing the history available to tourists year round was definitely one of the high points in itself. There’s a great new exhibition opened just on the event day exploring how the castle changed hands between the English and Scottish after the 12th century and the invention of the trebuchet. The prize-posession crown jewels were also open to the public, and the old castle jails had been takeover by magicians and singers who entertained the crowd as they walked through.
Likewise, in between exploring you could drop in to magic shows or musicians placed around the castle.
Singer-songwriter, guitar player, pianist, and women of many talents Sophie Penman impressed with her commendable instrumental skills, immaculate voice and poignant lyrics. Penman had won a competition from The List to play in the Grand Hall at the castle, which we thought a particularly good idea. There was a resounding plea for more when the singer finished her set.
If there was anything the event could have improved on, it would have been going a little further in its bookings. The artists were placed a little sparingly around the schedule. They could have done with a couple more musicians, given the depth of the young music scene in the country, and it would have been good to see the booming world of Scottish poetry acknowledged on the programme, especially given the promotion of the occasion as a celebration of youth. Perhaps the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to perform at the castle could have been extended to more young artists, we thought, but all in all it was a night of the highest quality nonetheless.
The closer was the ever-impressive Dundee pop star Be Charlotte, a woman who seems to get better every time we see her, ending the event back in the courtyard after an excellent young marching band covered in neon had led the crowd back through the gates.
Be Charlotte is a certified pop star. Her music is incredibly original, with great instrumentals ranging from guitar to synths, well-written but easily accessible singalong lyrics and a fantastic stage presence. We can’t wait until the artist releases more work - and a shoutout has to go to the team behind the castle sound system too. It was absolutely on point throughout her set.
All in, it was a great night at the castle where stunning views of the city were matched with a rare chance to see one of Scotland’s greatest, oldest landmarks lit up, and see artistic youth entertain.
Yet another success for the Year of the Young People project, and a great one-off event.