Reviews & features: Music

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Interview: Cora Bissett and Peter Arnott discuss Edinburgh Festival Fringe show Janis Joplin: Full Tilt

22 Jul 2014

The play stars Angie Darcy as the iconic 60s singer-songwriter and member of the infamous 27 Club

The way in which this part-concert part-play came together is fitting tribute to both the free and easy spirit of the age it remembers, and the wonderfully no-nonsense manner in which the late David MacLennan ran Òran Mór’s A Play, A Pie and A Pint…

Edinburgh International Festival 2014: 10 unmissable programme highlights

22 Jul 2014

Featuring Kronos Quartet, Helen Lawrence and Ganesh Versus the Third Reich

Czech Philharmonic Two concerts from the orchestra conducted by Jiri Belohlavek. The first features Nicola Benedetti as they tackle Janácek, Korngold and Martinu together, while the second has mezzo soprano Bernarda Fink singing the powerful ‘Biblical…

Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2014: 10 strange, site-specific venues

22 Jul 2014

Featuring phone shops, police boxes, rickshaws, caravans and a boxing gym

A boxing gym An amateur boxing club becomes the set for this verbatim theatre piece based on interviews with Muslim female boxers, using a cast of 16–18-year-olds. No Guts, No Heart, No Glory, Sandy’s Boxing Gym, Craigmillar, 226 0000, 18–25 Aug…

Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2014: 5 music highlights

22 Jul 2014

Featuring Withered Hand, Niki King, Asian Dub Foundation and RM Hubbert with Emma Pollock

Withered Hand The self-deprecating Dan Willson (he slagged his own voice off at an Usher Hall anniversary bash earlier this year and says his kids are the band’s toughest critics) gets set to receive the acclaim of others with tunes from breezy latest…

The 20 best shows at the 2014 Edinburgh Festivals

15 Jul 2014

Stuck to know what you must see this festival? Here's 20 suggestions from across the festivals

The James Plays. Edinburgh International Festival. Sofie Gråbøl, Blythe Duff and Jamie Sives are among the actors appearing in Rona Munro’s highly anticipated historical trilogy.

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Interview: Julian Cope reveals unorthodox writing methods and musical influences ahead of 2014 Edinburgh Book Festival date

15 Jul 2014

Rockstar-turned-writer on debut novel, writing under the influence and his Aberdeenshire obsession

‘Write what you know’, goes the Mark Twain mantra for budding authors. So Julian Cope has written a debut novel about 80s and 90s rock stars, football tribalism and Neolithic portals in Sardinia. ‘If you’re going to be an author, people have really got…

Interview: Andy Bell of Erasure on bringing Torsten the Bareback Saint to 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

15 Jul 2014

Erasure vocalist makes Fringe debut with a song cycle about a Dorian Gray-type character

Andy Bell’s Twitter account declares that he is ‘loving 2014 so far’. It’s a productive time for the flamboyant singing half of Erasure, with collaborations aplenty. But he can explain all that. ‘It’s the year of the horse,’ he says. ‘I looked it up and…

Five world-class sopranos appearing at the 2014 Edinburgh International Festival

15 Jul 2014

Featuring Susan Bullock, Claire Booth, Erin Wall, Anna Prohaska and Ute Lemper

Susan Bullock. It takes a rare kind of mental and physical stamina to tour the globe singing Ring Cycle after Ring Cycle. Maybe it’s pure survival tactics that make Wagnerians some of the most down-to-earth singers in the business and Susan Bullock is…

Music highlights from the 2014 Edinburgh International Festival

15 Jul 2014

Including Sweet Mambo, Czech Philharmonic, Ganesh Versus the Third Reich and Kronos Quartet

Sweet Mambo. Five years on from her death, Pina Bausch’s reputation as one of the most important choreographers of our age is only strengthening with time. Tanztheater Wuppertal, the dance ensemble she led from 1973, are carrying on her work and taking…

Shows inspired by key women in history at the 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

15 Jul 2014

Shows based on Jane Fonda, Margaret Thatcher, Bette Davis, Janis Joplin and Zelda Fitzgerald

Margaret Thatcher: Queen of Soho. You’d think there might have been a section of the Fringe programme solely dedicated to the Iron Lady by now. But until then, the true blues can go purple with fury at Matt Tedford’s interpretation of Lady Mags as a…

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Interview: Hackney Colliery Band on their unique sound ahead of 2014 Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival gig

15 Jul 2014

Group blend Afrobeat and Balkan music with contemporary rock to produce new fusion music

For those of you with a passing knowledge of London who may feel somewhat confused by the Hackney Colliery Band’s name, musician Steve Pretty is here to put your mind at ease. ‘There’s no colliery in Hackney,’ he confirms, describing the moniker as ‘a…

Interview: Soumik Datta on the unifying power of music ahead of 2014 Edinburgh Mela show

15 Jul 2014

Musician set for 2014 Mela performance and tour of Scotland with Scottish Chamber Orchestra

Collaboration is at the heart of everything for Soumik Datta. It’s there from his ambitious Edinburgh Mela-commissioned audio-visual production The King of Ghosts featuring the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, to live performances with famous names from…

The unique reworkings of Shakespeare lined up for 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

15 Jul 2014

Shows include Billy's Birthday Bash: Let's Party Like Its 1564, Blind Hamlet and Et Tu Elvie

‘It’s hard to separate the existence of British theatre from the fact of Shakespeare. After all, there isn’t another culture that can boast not only the world’s greatest playwright but one of the greatest writers ever to have lived,’ says Ramin Gray…

Children's show Musical Mornings with Mil’s Trills set for 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

15 Jul 2014

New York songwriter Amelia Robinson on her show that introduces music and instruments to all ages

If helping your little one discover the joy of music and language is high on your list of priorities, but one more rendition of ‘Wheels on the Bus’ might tip you over the edge, then a refreshing wind is blowing in from New York. Singer and songwriter…

Interview: Christian Scott on his signature blend of styles ahead of 2014 Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival

15 Jul 2014

Grammy-nominated musician on customising his own instruments to get the perfect sound

‘I don’t know what it’s not like to be from here,’ Christian Scott says in response to a query about what it means to be a musician from New Orleans. ‘I will say that being born and raised here, I benefitted from the wisdom of a lot of really great…

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The Neutrinos bring live music installation KlangHaus to 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

15 Jul 2014

Show at Summerhall challenges traditional notions of how a gig should be

Despite its name, the new show by dark-hearted art-rock ensemble the Neutrinos is about much, much more than mere music. By keeping the audience in the dark at Summerhall’s already atmospheric Small Animal Hospital and utilising an array of slide…

Interview: artist Michelle Hannah, one half of the band Picana Electrica

15 Jul 2014

The performance artist curates Nightflights & pitches herself as 'the Lidl version of Tilda Swinton'

Michelle Hannah is a Glasgow-based performance artist and one half of the band Picana Electrica. She was recently commissioned to produce the new work ‘Statue’ by the Talbot Rice Gallery as part of Counterpoint at the Edinburgh Art Festival. What’s…

Abdullah Ibrahim and the Mahotella Queens among highlights of Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival 2014

14 Jul 2014

The festival also features performances from Freshlyground, the Bad Plus and Zoe Rahman

Jazz is a living artform, but Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival's programming can be a little too reliant on tribute shows and revivalists. There are always some gems, however, and this year's Mandela Day Concert is a must-see, featuring the great South…

Performers of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2014: Send us your bribes!

9 Jul 2014

Send us free stuff and get valuable exposure for your show

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the biggest arts festival in the world, and as a result, individual shows or performers can sometimes struggle to make themselves heard. In an ideal world, it'd be great if every show could achieve a decent level of…

Jazz, Juliette Binoche and a calendar change on cards for Edinburgh International Festival 2015

8 May 2014

Incoming director designate Fergus Linehan outlines his plans for change at the EIF

Fifteen months before the start of his first event, Edinburgh International Festival director designate Fergus Linehan has taken the unusual step of revealing some of his thinking behind the 2015 programme – as well as sharing details of a few of its…

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War and peace announced as themes for Edinburgh International Festival 2014

18 Mar 2014

Programme highlights includes works involving The Kronos Quartet and Handspring Puppet Company

War and peace, conflict and conciliation are the grand themes being tackled in Jonathan Mills’ final year as director of the Edinburgh International Festival. The 2014 programme, announced today, explores music, dance, theatre and other arts not just…

Ensemble MusikFabrik: A Tribute to Frank Zappa - Usher Hall, Edinburgh, 28 August 2013

29 Aug 20135 stars

Earthy and soaring concert of outrageously good musicianship to nourish the adventurous concertgoer

It takes a certain effort of imagination to accept that the man who wrote a song called 'Why Does It Hurt While I Pee?' was the greatest American composer of his time, but Ensemble MusikFabrik's A Tribute to Frank Zappa, played with the precision of…

In Vogue: Songs by Madonna

29 Aug 20134 stars

Madonna revered and redefined, with camp flair, by Australian star Michael Griffiths

The moment Michael Griffiths, the musical theatre star from down Down Under, sashays on stage for his debut performance at the Edinburgh Festival, we are hooked. With a fabulous flourish he seats himself behind the grand piano and launches into…

Broadway Enchanté

29 Aug 20133 stars

The history of the Broadway musical, via Paris

Broadway – the sugary icing on the grand gâteau of musical theatre. For some the upbeat kitschness of a Broadway musical is a return to childhood. For others, it can be mindbendingly confusing, and the unwavering smiles of an all-singing, all dancing…

Dido and Aeneas/Bluebeard’s Castle - Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, Sat 24 Aug 2013

27 Aug 20134 stars

Oper Frankfurt present a contrasting programme of warm, doomed love and psychological nightmare

In combining Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas with Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle, Oper Frankfurt have created a deeply powerful theatrical and musical experience for their audiences. Both productions are provocative but in quite different ways. While Barrie…