Far from the snoozy pews of sermonic preachings, these 5 snappily dressed young South-African singers filled the cavernous rooves of St John’s church with such a wonderful feel for singing that it felt as if they had summoned the spirit of all Africa & flung into Scotland’s capital. Plucked form obscurity busking the streets of Johannesburgh, they are now touring Britain delivering a well-thought out & eclectic 20-song selection of South- African songsmithery.
The band consist of five singers who perform their musical a capella, & sang to a global audience at the opening ceremony of teh World Cup. Reaching such heady heights was not a coincidence, & their performance is quite simply excellent. Add this to the magnification of their music in the acosutics of a Christian Church, I defy anyone to not be moved by the occasion. FIVE STARS.
This massive venue on The Meadows says a lot about the scale of this production. 3 shows every day seating up to 800 people. This commercial behemoth draws office workers, hen nights, grannies and the curious. A quick headcount reveals a gender ratio of 70/30 in favour of female.
We couldn’t get our premium table as there were people sitting there, the venue having double booked the table. We said to the staff and were moved to another table but with a reduced view. We were also searched on the way in which I found intrusive. Over-priced drinks, Thai food and gaudy merchandise. This is a money spinning juggernaut. There’s a nice outdoor seating/smoking area for use during the interval.
The show itself is a colourful extravaganza with a backing track of cheesy pop and evergreen crowd pleasers like Tina Turners “Simply the Best”. The costumes and dancing are well appointed but it’s a shame they need to mime the words. The ladyboys themselves are splendid and perform a variety of hits with some funny audience interaction as the pull some embarrassed guys from the crowd for some predictable antics. As you book tables this is ideal for an alternative girlie sing-along but perhaps those seeking a dose of Thai culture should look elsewhere. THREE STARS
All the way from Australia comes Michael Griffiths to bring us his alter ego, “the most famous bitch on the planet” – Madonna to the festival, upstairs in the plush Playhouse Bar.
Playing with his baby grand piano, with his dapper smart shirt, braces and slick hairdo, he reads and sings Louise Ciccone’s diary and back catalogue with panache, style and feeling, whilst drinking out of the finest china known to mangina!
Any decent Madge fan will get his Gaga gags: on royalties: “if you can’t resist the delicious rush from stealing music – then steal gagas” meow!
He’s got style, that’s what all the guys n dolls say, Michael is a fantastic cabaret act, he’ll l ‘take you there’, go see. FOUR STARS.
If you are looking for some music throughout the Fringe, I can’t do much better than point you in the direction of the Tron Church. This year is the first time that the PBH free fringe has moved into the realms of music, taking over the iconic church at the heart of Edinburgh & the Royal Mile. Where 50 years ago, 8 pubs opened their doors to comedian & amateur dramtics on the fringes of the more high brow Edinburgh International Festival, so a decade ago the Frre fringe grew up as a cheaper alternative to the financial leviathan that the Fringe had become. Here, instead of paying out thousands of pounds, a performer plays for free & passes a bucket around at the end of the performance, with the venue happy with the till receipts from the bar.
In the same fashion, Dave Shand has organised some of the best young acts in Edinburgh, mixed with musicians drawn from all over the world, filling an all-day programme of hourly performances. Its an eclectic mix, from one men acoustic acts to to the full-on soft-porn of a Burlesque show. Here’s some of the highlights which Dave kindly picked out for us;
Midnight – Fri 9th / Fri 16th / Sat 17th / Fri 23rd / Sat 24th