As a poet I’m always excited to be exposed to an exponent of mine art ancient art which I have never come across before. I was delighted, then, to find myself sat down in Edinburgh’s Playhouse immersed in the poetry of the seminal 20th century polymath, Frederico Garcia Lorca. Poet, musician, playwright & lover, he grew from humble rustic beginnings to become one of the most beautiful poets to elucidate the culture of Spain. Alas, his life was cut short by the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), his outspoken liberal views making him the target of the Fascist murder-gangs on 19 August 1936.
His story, & of course his wonderful creative muse, made him a perfect choice to be included somewhere in this year’s war-themed EIF. Giving himself the job of truly elucidating Lorca’s lyrical genius, flamenco genius Paco Pena has weighed heavily on Lorca’s reclamation of Andulusian folklore & songs, & converted them into a wonderful two hour show. While his group strummed guitars & clapped their way through the material, a man & a woman danced elitely to the music, & i really did feel as if I was sat in an olive grove, the fire burning, the wine flowing, & the panorama melting into the sunset & teh Meditteranean Sea.
An excellent addition to the show was the epic visual projection at the back of the stage, which showed in grimy shadowy detail scenes from the Civil War. Then occasionally, Lorca’s poetry would be read out in English, its translated text shimmering in & out of the backdrop. This is perhaps the most powerful performance of poetry I have ever seen, & I know Lorca would wonder at modernity’s ability to eke out the ambrosia of his soul.
Reviewer : Damo Bullen
Wed 27th August
The second half of the performance.Ravel. Piano Concerto in G major. I had been so engrossed in my conversation with the old master that was sat next to me, Tthat I hadn’t noticed that a Grand Piano had taken center stage. Aside from African hand drums, piano is my second instrument and now was my chance to see Jean-Yves Thibaudet in action. As he took to the stage, the audience’s applause nearly took the roof off. To have this close a view of this genius at work really was a blessing. The almost psychic link between pianist and conductor as the piece began with a crack of a whip and then the skill and dexterity of the fingers that brought Ravel back to life. I was amazed ,inspired and very very entertained. What also amazed me was the pianist’s ability to perform this dramatically complex piece without sheet music. The atmosphere of the Usher Hall was multi-orgasmic as the concerto reached its climax. I was speechless.
This wasn’t a Master Class. This was a Professor class.
Divine Loved Every Moment.
Rebecca Pilcher is one of Edinburgh’s hardest working Rock Stars, with her long blond hair and her eye’s of blue. She cuts a very striking presence with her guitar and when she plays that guitar,she plays it with a Rock n Roll intensity that instantly grabs your attention. Accompanied on percussion by Kyle Hamilton. Ms Pilcher’s songs are sung so soulfully. Most of her set were originals,with themes of unrequited love and heart ache,with lyrics that are well crafted.and drawn from romantic endings. The beautiful rock star then blessed us with a rendition of Pinball Wizard,From The Who’s album Tommy. This was the first time that I have heard the song sung by a lady and It Rocked.
Keep your eye’s peeled for one of Rebecca’s gigz,because with a talent as hot as this,she ain’t gonna be on the Free Fringe circuit for very long. FOUR STARS
On my maiden visit to South Australia in 2000, I was working my clairvoyant and healing magic at the Spiegeltents first outing at The Adelaide Fringe. Shooglenifty and Tam White (God Bless his soul) were playing on the same bill together, with both bands heralding from Edinburgh. It was on that night that destiny called, & tt was while dancing to Shooglenifty’s brilliant Celtic groove that I met and had the first kiss with a Lady that I would share the next four years with.
So when I found out that Shooglnifty were to be the house band of Club Spiegel, the club night that follows “La Clique,” a further ripple of excitement moved through me. Memories of that life-changing experience were brought back…Spiegel is like a Tardis of memory and Divine never forgets.
Shooglenifty performed a magical set tonight, invoking the Celtic fires of dance within the audience with the well-crafted musicianship that has ensured their place on the world stage. The groove and chemistry that this band presents reaches deep into the soul and dance can be the only outcome.
Tonight this handsome band were joined on stage by the gifted and beautiful voice of Kaela Rowan, lamenting our hearts in unison with our dancing feet, and what a winning combination this proved to be. A FIVE STAR performance.
8, 15 & 22 Aug 2014
Encounter the National Museum of Scotland (NMS) as never before with some late night entertainment. Especially for the Fringe Festival, the NMS opens its doors ‘after hours’ for adults (18+) to experience the grand opulence of the Grand Gallery while sipping wine, see special exhibitions, live snippets of festival shows and creative events. For three nights during August you can see all this in a not-so-average festival venue.
From the main entrance on Chamber Street we found the Brasserie was still open for nibbles, dinner and drinks, a brisk stroll upstairs lead you to the bustling and vibrant Grand Gallery. The Main Stage was slap bang in the middle of the space so standing room was at a premium; visitors lined the balcony above to obtain a better view. Queues for the bars either side of the vast hall added to the congestion, the above average prices for below average fizz, wine and bottled beer failed to deter the thirsty visitors. The word ‘BAR’ was projected across the wall for ease of navigation. If you wanted to explore the other areas of the museum you had to leave the drinks behind, which for me, took some of the shine off the evening. There would have been something deliciously naughty about wandering through atmospherically lit exhibits, whilst sipping on a glass of vino. But it was understandable that they were keen to avoid any drunken Ming vase mishaps!
The museum was divided into several performance and activity areas for the night. The aforementioned Main Stage had a varied bill including a trombone quartet, capella singers, comedy tap dancers and a taki maori haka experience – an eclectic mix indeed! Music and chatter echoed around the cavernous Grand Gallery atrium. Old school 50’s Jazz played between acts taking the party people back in time, along with some of the artefacts surrounding us. Over in the Auditorium we were treated to some hypnotic Mongolian grunge and ‘comedy, magic and science’ courtesy of the affable Oliver Meech. The diversity of the acts tied in nicely with the spirit of the museum itself.
My personal highlight of the evening was upstairs in the Event Space. Here we could don white gloves and handle ancient Egyptian artefacts, participate in art & crafts and have our photo taken by the wonderfully silly team from Photo Bubble Booth. Hats, horns, moustaches, goggles, masks, and myriad other accessories littered the floor. You were given eight seconds between photos to dress up as daftly as possible and strike a pose – great fun! Plus it was a nice memento to take away from an enjoyable evening.
Visitors were able to enjoy free entry to the exhibition Ming: The Golden Empire, usually costing £6.50/£8. This special exhibition was an overview of the legacy of the Ming Dynasty, ruling China between 1368-1644. There were also an occasional surprise acts popping up around the site. Too much to experience in only three hours. As darkness fell the atmosphere definitely improved, those inevitable ‘Night of the Museum’ scenarios seem to be more possible! Alas the T Rex failed to move even after a large glass of vino tinto! FOUR STARS
The Cowshed, Edinburgh
Yesterday Avo I saw a Godfather and God-daughter song-writing team that look set to blow Adele out of the water. All original compositions penned by the brain-child behind the street-review Blog ‘themumble.net,’ Mr Damo Bullen plays Bass, who with drummer, Mr Luke Grifiths, provide a very funky rhythm section. Then along came the very, very cute Al Roberts on rhythm guitar and Roy Saunders on melodica & mandolin completing a sonic template for the amazing voice of Kae-Lei Stowell.
A Fourteen year old with an amazingly powerful vocal range that brought tears to my eyes. This always happens when I experience Genius. For a girl to have such realised gift at the age of 14 I am confident in saying that Kae Lei Stowell gave the best vocal performance I have witnessed this Summer season and feel blessed to have been moved by such a fine performance of Rock n Roll.
The Cowshed,in the Cowgate has the perfect dance floor all dusty and strewn with straw. With a band as good as this, I was hooked immediately, and the funky moves began. A new band,original songs and with such an impassioned, evolving soul Diva as Kae Lie Stowell leading the quartet. How could they go wrong. FIVE STARS
O’Neill’s performance was strong and energetic from the start. He erupted onto the stage wielding an electric guitar, a wealth of musical knowledge and a keen sense of humour, all of which he shared forthright and throughout the show with an excited audience. Despite the shows title ‘History of Heavy Metal’, this show is not only for lovers of heavy metal music, but for all. O’Neill is both informative and entertaining in his deliverance, and if his knowledge and his passion does not draw you in his witty jokes and charismatic energy will. When a performer enjoys doing their own show so much its hard not to enjoy it with them and in this case it’s evident how much O’Neill enjoys fusing two of his passions, Heavy Metal Music and its life span and his own art form, stand up comedy.
When I said this show was for all I meant it. I went with two of my counterparts who like myself were never big on Heavy Metal, however we left the venue after the performance with a new found understanding, or for want of a better word curiosity, for a music genre and its disciples, a warm feeling as though we’d been welcomed into a new community and sore sides faces from laughing for the best part of an hour. We are all in agreement that for this show Andrew O’Neill with his magnetic enthusiasm, passionate knowledge but mostly his whimsical personality and performance has earned himself all FIVE STARS.
Reviewer : Dermot Nelson
This is how it should be done.I joined a couple of friends waiting in a Que. The elevator doors opened and we stepped inside and down we went. Imagine being transported back to Andy Warhol’s art factory in 1967.
Only Andy had borrowed a Tardis to travel into the future to persuade Lux Interior, Poison Ivy, Nick Knox and Aphex Twin to collaborate with The Velvet Underground in an immersive cutting edge art project that was multi media and packed to the rim with everything that would captivate and engage my pleasure buttons. The spirit of Andy Warhol was very present. He was smiling. And like me. He, loved it. FIVE STARS
Reviewer : Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert
The British love a good impersonator, the ability to emulate to a tee some famous figure off the telly. However, to do this with the unbelievably beautiful, million-single selling singing voices of the the world’s greatest ever divas takes some doing – yet Christina Bianco pulls it off with an ear-shattering ease. Joining her (in drag) is her taller, more hairier equally as powerful a singer, Velma Celli. They clearly share chemistry on & off stage, & seem to love every second they spend singing together.
The show consists of a wide choice of costumes, & an even wider selection of Divas both dead & alive – Gwen Stefani, Cher, Shania Twain, Billie Holiday & many more all get the Bianco treatment throughout the 70 mins of this pulsating, ear-trembling, soul-quivering show. Velma is more than just a comedy side-kick, & her diva exit towards the end of the show is absolute genius. I, & just about everybody else in the audience, were completely blown away by the bacchanalian energy of Bianco & Celli, which coomplled many to stand clapping in ovation at the end of the show. A well worthy FIVE STARS.
Reviewer : Damo Bullen