Peter Straker: Black Magic
Showtune singer thrills but picks wrong songs at Edinburgh Festival Fringe
This article is from 2014.
Peter Straker is British musical theatre royalty, partly through his talent-breaking role in Hair in the late 1960s and partly through a hard-working career which has continued to stretch on over the decades. Following on from his recent Fringe appearances performing Jacques Brel, this latest show is the Straker rock 'n' roll 'n' musical standards compilation set, and it often feels strangely smaller than his huge talents. For example, a version of 'Sympathy for the Devil' misfires with cultured gentility instead of raw sexuality coursing through its veins, and 'It's a Kind of Magic' works best in context as a tribute to Straker’s old friend Freddie Mercury, whose pomp he doesn’t match.
Yet his locally-sourced band of Edinburgh musicians are good, although perhaps somewhat mismatched with a man whose voice demands either an orchestra or as minimal a backdrop as possible. In this context versions of Hair's 'White Boys' and The Rocky Horror Show's ‘Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch Me' are more suitable rabble-rousers, while on Brel's ‘If You Go Away’ illustrates the virtuosity of a voice which is a thrill to listen to, no matter the wisdom or suitability of a few of the musical choices.
Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 24 Aug (not 11, 18), 6pm, £14–£11.50 (£13.50–£10.50).