Reviews & features: Music

746 reviews

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Beats North

18 Aug 20143 stars

A touching theatre double-bill that reminds of the power of music at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

In this double-bill of plays by Ishy Din and Luke Barnes, Al and Jack are two young northern men trying to find their way into adulthood. Jack prefers Bonnie Tyler and Meatloaf to football, and needs to make sure his ragdoll – a hand-me-down toy from…

Rhythmic Circus: Feet Don’t Fail Me Now

14 Aug 20145 stars

Joyous show fusing superb musicianship and slick dance routines raises the roof

It’s impossible to know for sure, but the final song in Rhythmic Circus’ set might just be the most joyful five minutes at this year’s Fringe. Admittedly, we’re already in a very happy place by the time they play it, having spent an hour in the…

Jonny & the Baptists: The Satiric Verses

19 Aug 20143 stars

Catchy, political songs from musical comedy double act at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Musical comedy double act Jonny & The Baptists (aka Jonny Donahoe and Paddy Gervers) got an unlikely publicity boost earlier this year. After setting out on their 'Stop UKIP' tour and releasing a video on YouTube, the party sat up and took notice…

Interview: Rachel McCrum and Jenny Lindsay talk poetry at the Edinburgh Festivals 2014

15 Aug 2014

Poets are popping up all over the capital this august, including Luke Wright and Hollie McNish

Between the crowds, the queues, the small-hours bedtimes and the daytime drinking, moments of poetic transcendence don’t necessarily come high on the August-in-Edinburgh agenda. But those familiar with Edinburgh’s dynamic live literature and spoken word…

Song Noir: The Director’s Cut

19 Aug 20143 stars

Pumajaw successfully conjure late night glamour of film noir at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Song Noir's theatrical trappings – moody lighting, video, a series of pre-recorded spoken word interludes – are neglible, adding little depth to the already moody and profound songs. Through a mixture of classic covers, with cinematic associations, and…

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Ute Lemper with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra

19 Aug 20144 stars

Stellar interpretations of Weill and Brecht at the Edinburgh International Festival

What a treat. Ute Lemper is the peerless interpreter of the Weimar songbook, making her cabaret competitors look like greasy lightweights. And the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, conducted by American Lawrence Foster, have the most fun with these lush…

Simon Thacker’s Ritmata

19 Aug 20143 stars

Tight-knit ensemble pulsing with internationally inspired energy at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Hardly surprising for a group bearing an Italian name that means rhythm, Simon Thacker’s Ritmata is a tight-knit ensemble characterised by an internationally inspired pulsating energy. For their Made in Scotland show in Summerhall’s Café, their…

Rayguns Look Real Enough: Hall of Fame

15 Aug 20144 stars

Fast and funny mashed up rock classics at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

With Ray Gunn’s tiger outfit and Luke Reel’s electric shock goth hairdo, this rock duo look like Calvin and Hobbes hit middle age and formed a band. Pulling melodies, tunes, rhythms and lyrics from across the decades, the pair have put together a…

I Do, Do I

17 Aug 20144 stars

Musician Greg Sinclair creates profound nonsense with kids at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Is I Do, Do I even a kids’ show? Well, yes and no. Edinburgh-based cellist and actor Greg Sinclair’s multi-layered, deceptively simple offering is actually for anyone – there’s nothing aimed directly at children here, although its free-thinking…

Albee Vector the Sound Collector

15 Aug 20144 stars

Engaging storytelling adventure for all the family at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

In the already thrilling surroundings of the Hispaniola, littered with caged skeletons and other Treasure Island artefacts, Greenlight Theatre create a level of entertainment of which even RLS would approve. Albee Vector and his love, Andromeda, are…

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Rubberbandits: Continental Fistfight

15 Aug 20144 stars

Irish hip-hop trio nail winning formula of outrageous songs at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

If you’ve never come across the Rubberbandits before, then do not be put off by their awkwardly succinct website bio: ‘We are hardcore gangster rappers from Limerick city in Ireland’. Yes, they do come from ‘stab city’, talk with an Irish accent so…

Symphony by Ella Hickson, Tom Wells & Nick Payne

17 Aug 20143 stars

Three delightful theatre pieces exploring growing up and falling in love

Individually, Ella Hickson, Tom Wells and Nick Payne have seen their fair share of theatrical success. Hickson's had a number of hit plays since her 2008 Fringe debut, Eight, brought her to nationwide attention. Payne's Constellations recently won the…

Camille O'Sullivan: 10

15 Aug 20142 stars

An inoffensive Edinburgh Festival Fringe show of cover versions camouflaged in glamour

Camille O'Sullivan has become one of the mainstays of the Edinburgh festival. This year marks her tenth at the Fringe and in that time she’s racked up an impressive collection of five-star reviews and sold-out shows. Backed by a trio of musicians, she…

Movin’ Melvin Brown: The Tap-Dancing Preacher

18 Aug 2014

Gospel music with a little hot shoe shuffle at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Melvin Brown is almost part of the Fringe furniture, and as such has to constantly re-invent his shows for new and returning audiences. This latest outing finds Brown in preacher mode, singing gospel songs and clearly lighting a fire under the more…

Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2014 interview: Beardyman

15 Aug 2014

The beatboxer extraordinaire discusses his new creation, Beardytron 5000, and his first ever TED tal

Beatboxer Beardyman has spent the last few years working on a bespoke system (‘two laptops, loads of buttons, knobs and touchscreens’) to translate sounds from his brain to his listeners’ ears. He reasons it’ll forever be a work-in-progress but he…

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Musician Greg Sinclair on how his favourite aspects of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2014

15 Aug 2014

The award-winning artist and performer is in town to perform his kid-powered recital I Do, Do I

My first Edinburgh festival experience was … Desperately collecting as many fliers as possible on the Royal Mile when I was a wee boy. Edinburgh’s unique selling point is … Its beauty: architecture, landscape, people, culture. I am likely to be…

Ready, Steady, Ceilidh

15 Aug 20143 stars

Lively kids' introduction to ceilidh dancing at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

As a lively and entertaining introduction to ceilidh dancing, Ready, Steady, Ceilidh will give great satisfaction to 5-year-olds and up, including their parents. The short 40 minute show is structured around the mock rivalry of the MacReds and the…

Darling Ghost

15 Aug 20143 stars

Dark avant-garde musical cabaret is fascinating to witness, despite not always cohering

As the doors open you are greeted by four wind musicians at the front, a pianist with horns dressed in period costume and two women seated at a table to the left. Darling Ghost is hard to categorise; think free jazz meets Tori Amos or Regina Spektor at…

Lady GoGo Goch

14 Aug 20144 stars

Frankie Fox combines music and theatrics to explore her Welsh heritage at the Edinburgh Fringe

Performed mainly in Welsh and a smattering of English, Lady GoGo Goch blends traditional and contemporary song with theatrical performance and live instrumentation to create a fluid, intense, and ultimately trippy exploration of Welsh culture. Funny…

Edinburgh International Festival 2014 interview: Jonathan Mills on his Sandakan Threnody

15 Aug 2014

The outgoing artistic director of the festival discusses his WWII memorial piece

Back in March, Jonathan Mills announced the theme for this year’s Edinburgh International Festival. He wanted the programme to look at the relationship between conflict and culture – how war and political unrest leave their mark on art. It probably…

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Delusion of the Fury showcases Harry Partch instruments at 2014 Edinburgh International Festival

14 Aug 2014

Ensemble musikFabrik present music-theatre with song, glass bells and a goat

Consider a picture of Ensemble musikFabrik playing the music of innovative 20th-century composer Harry Partch. It is not immediately clear what is happening. Is this a kinetic sculpture or other art installation? Should they even be touching these giant…

Beefheart 'n' Cheeze - Henry's Cellar Bar, Edinburgh, Sun 3 Aug 2014

14 Aug 20144 stars

Orange Claw Hammer pay tribute to avant-garde weirdo rocker, Captain Beefheart

Captain Beefheart has become synonymous with avant-garde rock. An innovator who rejected the boundaries of genre, an explorer who blasted into the sonic soundscape. 1969's *3Trout Mask Replica*2 has become the go-to album for lovers of the weird and…

The Hibrow Hour

17 Aug 2014

Multi-media arts for smart audiences including Alison Jackson and Jonny and the Baptists

The Hi-Brow Hour, which takes over an afternoon slot at Summerhall for the third week of the Fringe, is more inclusive than the average show. Not only are the individual events be recorded, they are being streamed on BBC Arts Online and shown at Odeon…

Edinburgh International Festival 2014: exploring death camps through music

15 Aug 2014

Holocaust survivor Samuel Pisar and the Pavel Haas Quartet among contributors to EIF's music strand

Bernstein’s Kaddish Symphony The man who wrote West Side Story also wrote this sweeping, tense work for a narrator, choir and orchestra, his tribute to Kaddish – a hymn traditionally sung in the synagogue at times of mourning. Holocaust survivor Samuel…

King Creosote, RM Hubbert and Withered Hand all set for Queen's Hall Edinburgh Festival dates

14 Aug 2014

Three gigs from high-profile local acts during 2014 Fringe

Picked from Scotland’s current embarrassment of musical riches, three heavy hitters in the singer-songwriter and virtuoso-folk category play the Queen’s Hall. First up is Fife’s prolific King Creosote, aka Kenny Anderson. He’s having a busy year…