Sven Ratzke: Homme Fatale
- Lorna Irvine
- 19 August 2018
Loucher than louche lounge lizard impresses
There can't be many shows at the Edinburgh Festival where the lead singer offers to pimp out his band members. Yet this is the case for Sven Ratzke, the impish cabaret crooner who is a bizarre hybrid of Blixa Bargeld and Charles Aznavour. With a dramatic sweep of his wrist, he asks everyone in the front row, including a married couple, if they fancy taking home his wonderful musicians. Indeed, it's this unabashed tongue-in-many-cheeks sleaziness that makes the prowling, preening Ratzke such an endearing character.
Working the intimate space like a stadium-bound god, he is as self-deprecating as he is fanciful, a raconteur who transports the small but appreciative crowd to the brothels of Paris, Fellini's Italy and the fleshpots of New York with his gloriously eccentric storytelling and cover versions. In the main though, it's the glammy Sondheim-channelling tease of 'Spinning Arachne' which manages to out-camp Rufus Wainwright, or an epic take on Bowie's 'The Man Who Sold The World' which most suit his soaring whiskey-drenched voice.
Pianist Christian Pabst is possibly the unsung hero of the evening – his shimmering, rolling solos are stunning, and his versatility extends to funk, jazz, disco and even lovers' rock in the unlikely form of a gentle spin on Lou Reed's 'Satellite Of Love'. All very enjoyable, with moments of real goosebump-inducing beauty. However, it would be very interesting to see what the band could do with more contemporary material. Sia and Beyonce through a glam rainbow prism? Now, that would be an upgrade worth hearing.
Assembly Hall, until 26 Aug (not 20), 6pm, £13–£14 (£12–£13).