Reviews & features: Music

656 reviews

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I Am, I Am

15 Aug 20124 stars

Highly entertaining slapstick minstrelry from promising troubadour comedy duo

For ones so young it's obscene how much confidence these duelling acoustic troubadours from Cambridge have. With their genre shifting ditties and punning rhymes I Am, I Am are most obviously comparable to The Flight of the Conchords but their very…

Eat, sleep and breathe: Hot Dub Time Machine

29 Jul 2012

Aussie DJ/ VJ Tom Loud shares his tour habits ahead of his Fringe appearance

What time is breakfast? Early! I lost the ability to sleep in when I turned 30! No matter how late I stay up, (often VERY late, my show finishes at 3am) I’ll be having breakfast before 9am. I make up for it by taking disco naps before I perform. Tea…

Archie Shepp - Summerhall, Edinburgh, 1 Aug 2012

15 Aug 20124 stars

Avant-garde fire may be toned down, but 75-year-old Shepp still honks a mighty blues

'I continue to listen gamely to Archie Shepp (who is wearing a beard now) in the hope that one day it will all cease to sound like 'Flight of the Bumble Bee' scored for bagpipes and concrete-mixer' wrote Philip Larkin in 1966. One can relish the poet…

Peter Straker’s Brel

15 Aug 20124 stars

Belgian chanteur Brel’s life explored in song, costumes and storytelling

Jamaican born Peter Straker has been involved in British TV, music, and theatre for decades – he’s been in Doctor Who, collaborated with Freddie Mercury and starred in Hair and Phantom of the Opera amongst other things. In this latest show however, he…

Temper Temper: The Pain of Desire

12 Aug 20125 stars

Weimar rock ‘n’ roll from an unforgettable performer

The edges between live concert and theatrical performance bleed together in this full band show instigated by creative director Wendy Bevan. It begins as we await outside, the sound of piano flourishes being prepared echoing through the…

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Lach: Up The Anti!

12 Aug 20123 stars

Witty rock and roll renditions from the legendary NY anti-folker

Think of one man. Add in that he’s masterfully strumming a guitar, singing with a deep, gravelly vocal or producing a commendable Bob Dylan impression. Then factor in that, despite an on stage humility, he’s kind of a New York legend. Enigmatic…

Chris Difford and Norman Lovett: It's All About Me!

12 Aug 20123 stars

Squeeze singer and Red Dwarf comedian in inexplicable team-up

Quite why Chris Difford of highly-successful 70s and 80s pop group Squeeze has chosen to embellish his partial spoken word life story with the presence of miserablist comedian and former Red Dwarf actor Norman Lovett is never explained here, so we can…

Gagaku, the ancient music of Japan, comes to the Edinburgh International Festival

11 Aug 2012

One-off performance to showcase the world's oldest orchestra tradition

If you think Western classical music is ancient – and let’s face it, even Bach dates back over 300 years – it’s a mere youngster compared with gagaku. The music of the Japanese imperial court, which gets a very rare British outing as part of the…

Eat, sleep and breathe: The Vocal Orchestra

11 Aug 2012

The beatboxing group's Robin Bailey shares their touring habits

What time is breakfast? Normally around 10am as we tend to have gigs that go on quite late into the evenings, but earlier brekkie in rehearsal periods. Tea or coffee? Coffee for sure, preferably latte. Smoking or non-smoking? Non-smoking…

My Robot Heart

10 Aug 20123 stars

Stylish, likeable one-woman show with live band

This charming one-woman show slathered with well-observed social satire about wardrobes, Morrissey, and the rules of the playground asks an important question: ‘If it’s only physiologically possible to be in love for 12-18 months, then what on earth…

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Five reasons we love Temper, Temper

8 Aug 2012

Wendy Bevan and her Lynchian, Weimar-esque compatriots performing at Fringe 2012

1. Should Marlene Dietrich, Scott Walker, Antony Hegarty, Laurie Anderson and Nick Cave ever cross space and time to meet at a gig it would be this one. Temper Temper’s sound fuses muscular, glittering blues with old, dusty jazz. 2. More than a gig…

Twonkey’s Kingdom

7 Aug 20123 stars

Absurdist and ramshackle entertainment from Paul Vickers

‘We’ve all taken a bag of ecstasy and tried to book a skiing holiday, haven’t we?’ If you say so, Paul Vickers, renowned Edinburgh musician and maverick, and key-holder to the frankly baffling kingdom of Twonkey (it rhymes with ‘wonky’), who is a small…

Tom Thum: Beating the Habit

7 Aug 20123 stars

Beatboxing Aussie seems to have swallowed bagpipes, decks and a didgeridoo

Part of Australian acrobat-dance-variety show the Tom Tom Crew, 27-year-old beatboxer Tom Thum now brings his solo show to the Fringe. With the ability to conjure up a large variety of unusual sounds – bagpipes and a didgeridoo all show up — the Aussie…

Rock

7 Aug 20124 stars

Rabid account of US punk movement from one man and a cellist

Long before Kurt Cobain moved to Seattle, sold his ass and lost his soul, the clouds of the American punk rock movement were gathering, rumbling and occasionally transcending. From the poetic beat riffs of Gregory Corso through to the narcotic and…

The Beast

7 Aug 20124 stars

With uke and loop pedal Bowden commands a spellbound crowd

Stuart Bowden wants to tell you a story about a beast. His name is Winslow and he lives on the edge of town, just a short helicopter ride away if you happen to have a helicopter. Winslow is a little awkward and a little lonely, one of his prized…

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Eat, sleep and breathe: Ali McGregor

7 Aug 2012

The opera singer turned cabaret diva puts a distinct twist on modern rock and pop hits

What time is breakfast? 6am with my two-year-old or 8.30 if my wonderful husband is on duty! Tea or coffee? Neither. Unless you have chai, which cafés rarely do here. Smoking or non-smoking? Non smoking. Unless it’s 3am and I should know…

Five electronica composers at the 2012 Edinburgh International Festival

6 Aug 2012

Terry Riley, Laurent Garnier, Craig Armstrong, Abel Korzeniowski, Isao Tomito and Ryoji Ikeda

So the Edinburgh International Festival can be regarded by some as... how does one put this delicately... highbrow? Scholarly? Of course that’s not the Festival’s fault. That’s the fault of us lowly plebeians who refuse to dive into the deep immersive…

Amanda Palmer & Neil Gaiman bring joint live show to Edinburgh Fringe

6 Aug 2012

Singing and reading from musical and literary couple

‘Amanda taught Neil to love the festival,’ speaks the Palmer/Gaiman marital unimind (in fact hallowed fantasy author Gaiman emailing on behalf of himself and his ex-Dresden Doll and Fringe mainstay spouse). ‘He used to come to Edinburgh and do the book…

The Blanks' Big Break

6 Aug 20123 stars

A capella comedy from the Scrubs quartet, with some non-musical filler thrown in

George, Paul, Sam and Philip are best known as nervy lawyer Ted’s all male a capella quartet from the TV series Scrubs. Now billed as The Blanks, in their Fringe debut they don’t let you forget it. Combining stand-up, sketches and frankly impressive…

7x7th Street

4 Aug 20124 stars

Interactive sounds sculptures create a musical promised land

Seven and seven is, well, a very magic number indeed in Jean Pierre Muller's walk-through collaboration with musical icons including Robert Wyatt, Nile Rodgers, Archie Shepp and Terry Riley. Free-associating ideas based around the number seven (days a…

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Fringe by the Sea 2012: Five ingredients for the ultimate seaside experience

1 Aug 2012

North Berwick will host Kate Rusby, Neil Innes and more on 6–12 August

Take a break from the buzz of the city and join in the thrill of the seaside. For the 5th year running, Fringe nge by the Sea returns ns with an eclectic mix of music, comedy, theatre, film, authors- in-conversation and, of course, the…

Interview: Archie Shepp - Edinburgh date for avant-garde firebrand

31 Jul 2012

The legendary sax-man talks bagpipes, gospel and reggae before his Summerhall show

Archie Shepp came to prominence in the mid-1960s as a leading light of the black avant-garde, playing with Cecil Taylor, Bill Dixon and Don Cherry, among others. John Coltrane sponsored Shepp's contract with Impulse! records and invited him to play on…

Aussie musicians Daniel Holdsworth and Aidan Roberts on Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells For Two

29 Jul 2012

The pair aim to recreate the album in its entirety live on stage

Surely everyone has heard at least something from Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells – even if it’s just in the soundtrack to The Exorcist – but two Australian musicians, Daniel Holdsworth and Aidan Roberts, know it better than most. It’s a truly iconic…

Canadian pianist Chilly Gonzales prepares for first Fringe shows

29 Jul 2012

The multi-talented musician is set to blend comedy, music and spoken word

‘The world that the Fringe represents is a world I’ve always been conscious of,’ says omnitalented raconteur, pianist and friend to Canada’s finest alternative musicians, Chilly Gonzales. ‘But to be honest, I’ve always chosen consciously not to go…

Detour's Ally McCrae on late-night Festival music series Circa

29 Jul 2012

The gigs will feature performances and DJ sets from Twilight Sad, Lady North, Churches and more

There are many locals who could see the Edinburgh Festival far enough, and don’t need another unicycle with ukelele cabaret act. But many do like the fact that August brings with it extended opening hours. Gigs can go on til 5am if they like, a detail…