Experimental Music Love

August 23, 2008

Fringe Reviews III

Filed under: Edinburgh Festival — by Free Edinburgh Podcast @ 1:21 am
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Even more reviews of Fringe shows, even though it’s pretty much all over now. Oh well. Go to http://edinburgh.threeweeks.co.uk/browse.asp?uid=2070271453&cnt=all for more things and stuff.


The Fires of Edinburgh
Nick Keir
Edinburgh is a perfectly lovely city. You only need to climb to the top of Arthur’s Seat and gaze down upon its grand landscape to realise its beauty. But an hour of doting songs with basic chords and cringe-worthy lyrics is not a suitable way to celebrate the nation’s capital. Nick Keir would seem to be better than this gig’s worth, having a real emotion in his voice, and a guitar technique that’s solid if not unbelievably impressive. This is sullied though by awkward attempts to get an audience to join in songs they haven’t heard that lyrics where hearts are “on fire” and emotions run deep as “wishing wells”. I can hear the shudders as you read this.
Diverse Attractions, 19 – 23 Aug, 9.25pm (10.25pm), £6.00 (£4.00), fpp 150.
eml rating 2/5

John Renbourn
NEM Productions
“Something’s working,” says Renbourn after his first few strums. “This is a real good sound!” And the former Pentangle man, and folk legend, is no liar. Even at 64, he still makes it look all so easy, as natural behind a guitar as Michael Phelps in water. Like his former band mate, Bert Jansch, he has St. Bride’s old church building full of music lovers who know only too well the skill of such nimble fingers. Those nimble fingers cannot hide the fact that Renbourn’s vocals have never quite matched Jansch’s however, and it’s clear the best works tonight are the epic instrumentals. It only makes me wish I was around to see Pentangle in their prime.
Acoustic Music Centre @ St. Bride’s, 19 Aug, times vary, £15.00 (£12.00), fpp 155.
eml rating 3/5

Here’s Esther, Are You Ready?
Subie Coleman
Subie Coleman is here to celebrate a “real unrecognised star” with a stylish set of just some of soul icon, Esther Phillips’ classic works. The late star’s presence is felt throughout, with archive clips showing off her stunning voice, and old photos charting the development of a woman in the spotlight from 13 until her 40s. Phillips’ story is told in dignified manner, bringing to light all her unashamed horrors as well as her lasting glories. And though not quite making each song her own, Coleman is an excellent soul singer. This is more than a jazz show though, this is a life story, and it’s one that shall make you leave wanting to fill in every detail.
The Jazz Bar, 21 – 23 Aug, 7.30pm (8.30pm), £12.50 (£10.00), fpp 152.
eml rating 4/5


The Late Show
Neil Masters and Underbelly Productions
It’s that final stretch of the Fringe, and everyone’s tired and sick of all the fliers and rain and the cobbles. But Zoe Lyons is as enthusiastic as the streets outside are miserable, and proves a perky host for a very late night comedy show. Less can be said for the guests though as big name Reginald D. Hunter goes through the motions, aiming for his 20 minutes and no more. In fact, the only worthwhile act on show is Wilson Dixon and his wonderfully amusing country and western ditties. You’ll probably get bigger names than other comedian collections, but be warned; they may not want to be there quite as much as you.
Underbelly, dates vary, 12.40am (3.10am), prices vary, fpp 70.
eml rating 3/5

Gag Hole – Free
Laughing Horse Free Festival
Another free pick of the Fringe, and yet another mixed bag of potential greats and ready failures, all united under the influence of alcohol. The atmosphere is pleasantly relaxed, and admirable host, Winston (real name Mark Smith, but that’s rubbish) is under no real pressure, handling a surreal crowd of Gok Wan lookalikes and girls with pink hair called ‘Socks’ as well as could be expected. The acts are inevitably varied, from the sharp, no-nonsense wit of Chris Martin, to cumbersome musical comedy that just doesn’t work, before ending on the beautifully drunk Benny Boot celebrating his birthday with a spectacularly chaotic set of slurred comedic perfection. Worth it if just for the sheer number of lampshades.
Laughing Horse @ The Counting House, 31 Jul – 25 Aug, 9.25pm (10.25pm), free non-ticketed, fpp 53.
eml rating 3/5

East-West Comedy Summit – Free
Laughing Horse Free Festival
The evening promises a locking of horns between a wise-cracking New Yorker and liberal Scandinavians as two comedy worlds collide. What is delivered however is a mess of tired politics and tired comedy, with one funny Finn in between. American compere, Rich Lyons has more cliches than a football manager in a post-match interview, and the other half slice of stale bread in this sandwich is Riku Suokas, appearing far too nervous throughout, and entirely unable to engage with the audience. Lying between is a fine Finnish meat though, with Tomi Walamies performing a set of sardonic one-liners that just about make this hour bearable. I’d check to see if he’s in anything else first though.
Laughing Horse @ The Argyle, 11 – 25 Aug, 8.20pm (9.20pm), free non-ticketed, fpp 47.
eml rating 2/5

Charlie Ross – Just One Word
Charlie Ross/PBH’s Free Fringe
Flamboyant. Dramatic. Geek. Active. Wise. Charlie Ross is all of these things to various people. But is ‘funny’ an appropriate word to add? Inspired by a text message he sent to all of his friends to describe him in one word, Ross has created an hour long set addressing those answers. And he does seem to live up to all these individual expectations, confirming every suggestion with a charismatic flair that all too easily endears the audience. And yes, you will leave with ‘funny’ on your mind every time you think of Charlie Ross, though you may never be able to watch The Sound of Music in the same way again.
Beehive Inn, 2 – 23 Aug (not 14 or 15), 10.30pm (11.30pm), free non-ticketed, fpp 37.
eml rating 3/5

Paul Ricketts & Buff Wood – Wood Pushers
Up the Arts Comedy/PBH’s Free Fringe
In case you’re wondering, a ‘wood-pusher’ is a common term for someone who works behind the scenes at a theatre. And this is just one of the many roles Paul Ricketts has turned his hand in the course of his varied life, including a frustrated primary school teacher and editor of a pornographic magazine dedicating itself to a particularly small (in several senses) niche market. Ricketts excels as a natural story-teller, with an amusing eloquence that would make you smile even if he was the one telling you your granny’s just died. Oh, and do be prepared for the last ten minutes. Chances are, it may be the last thing you would ever expect.
Nicol Edwards, 2 – 23 Aug (not 13 or 19), 8.00pm (9.00pm), free non-ticketed, fpp 86.
eml rating 3/5

Laughing Horse Free Late Night Comedy Club
Laughing Horse Free Festival
Another late night comedy pick of the Fringe, and one that promises a laugh at least every 10 minutes with the fantastic Andy White bringing his articulate wit to his compère duties. The acts he announces on a show like this may prove to be a different story though. It’s all too easy to go from the sublime to the sorrowful when there are two of those wee small hours to be filled. You may be treated to the best Finnish comedian in Edinburgh right now, Tomi Walamies, or you may get some strange Dutchman who doesn’t know why he’s there. Certainly worth a risk if the Fringe hasn’t got to you by one in the morning.
Laughing Horse @ Meadow Bar, 31 Jul – 30 Aug, times vary, free non-ticketed, fpp 71.
eml rating 3/5

Wha’choo Talkin’ ‘Bout Willis – Free!
Dan Willis
Dan Willis is doing four shows a day at this year’s Fringe, so he can be forgiven for a dodgy throat. What hasn’t been damaged by such a heavy workload however is Willis’ spirit for the festival, and you’d be hard pressed to find a more friendly comedian in the whole of Edinburgh. Willis leaves any cynicism at the door, and only shows passion in his performance and an all-embracing attitude towards the audience. With topics chosen from a velcro covered board, Willis jokes adeptly with amusing anecdotes about violent hecklers and the fears of flying. Probably the only stand-up show at the Fringe where you can leave for the toilet without fear.
Laughing Horse @ Meadow Bar, 31 Jul – 25 Aug, 9.20pm (10.20pm), free non-ticketed, fpp 109.
eml rating 3/5

Carl Donnelly Vs John Robins Vs Predator
Carl Donnelly & John Robins
A little heads up for anyone interested in going – the Predator is just the sound guy in a mask. And he doesn’t tell jokes. Which is probably a good thing, as I hear humour on Predator’s home planet is still on mother-in-law jokes. Carl Donnelly and John Robins have both evolved somewhat beyond, and each have half an hour here to entertain an audience prepared to sit in a damp, dripping cave. Both have similar relaxed, friendly styles, with Donnelly focusing more on life’s little quirks, and Robins showing himself to be an amusing story-teller, even if each story seems to focus on sex. They’ll even let you try on the mask at the end.
Underbelly’s Baby Belly, 31 Jul – 24 Aug (not 12), 7.20pm (8.20pm), prices vary, fpp 37.
eml rating 3/5


Written Off
Cicero Productions
Though Written Off won’t teach you any of life’s lessons, making about as much sense as coffee flavoured chocolate, it will provide a fun distraction from the more serious themes of many plays at the festival. There is a tendency to veer dangerously close to fitting in incredulous situations for lazy comic effect, but it just about manages to stay on the right side of the line which separates harmless frolics to from stupid japes that render all plot lines pointless. Just prepare to suspend your disbelief, and you’ll be entertained as this story goes far beyond its simple premise of two writing partners meeting up for the first time in years ever than you may have thought possible.
The Space on the Mile @ The Radisson, 11 – 23 Aug (not 17), 1.45pm (3.15pm), £7.00 (£5.50), fpp 242.
eml rating 3/5

Stramash at the Store
Edinburgh People’s Theatre
After a quick look round the busy church hall, it appears that I may be the only one under 50 here to see the latest work from one of Edinburgh’s most esteemed amateur dramatics organisations. But this is a play for everyone. Well, everyone who knows what a ‘stramash’ is, and has ever read The Broons or Oor Wullie. It’s 1962 and the King of Norway is over in Edinburgh to visit an old war friend, the manager of a department store. Cue much Are You Being Served style chaos as the employees prepare for such an esteemed guest. It may be too home-grown for some tastes, but its portrayals of every day Scots should charm the locals.
St Peter’s, 2 – 23 Aug (not Sundays or Mondays), 7.45pm (10.00pm), £9.00 (£7.00), fpp 234.
eml rating 3/5


Human Trafficking – Scotland ‘s 21st Century Slaves
In association with the Parliament’s Cross Party Groups on Human Rights and Civil Liberties, and Asylum Seekers and Refugees.  With 200 years since the abolishment of the slave trade in the British Empire celebrated just last year, it is a suitable time to explore the unfortunate reality that is modern day slavery. In these supposedly civilised times, it’s estimated that over 600,000 people are illegally trafficked into the EU every year, and several experts in the field gathered at the Scottish Parliament today to discuss just how big an issue this is. Particulary telling was director of Amnesty International UK, Kate Allen, who brought to light harrowing details of the scale of the problem in Scotland. This was a challenging, thought-provoking debate that effectively brought to light a disturbingly real issue.
Scottish Parliament Committee Room 3, 20 Aug, 12.30pm (1.30pm), free non-ticketed.



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