Movin’ Melvin Brown: The Tap-Dancing Preacher
Gospel music with a little hot shoe shuffle at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe
This article is from 2014.
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 spiritual audience members. Although US preachers are known for their exuberant delivery, Brown is more interested in songs than sermonising, and the only narrative he imparts is a brief childhood anecdote about attending church with his mother.
The rest is wall-to-wall anthems, with a little low-key tap dancing thrown in. The songs themselves vary from well-known religious favourites such as ‘Love Can Build A Bridge’ and ‘Amazing Grace’ (the latter in particular providing an opportunity to close your eyes and lose yourself in Brown’s soulful vocals) to lesser-known tunes.
At one point, audience members are invited onstage to take on the percussion role (tambourine) in a rousing number. But for the most part, Brown is backed by a tight young band on drums, electric and bass guitar and keyboards, giving the ‘service’ more of a gig feel.
Brown is a showman through and through, but although crowd-pleaser such as ‘When the Saints Go Marching In’ are accessible to all-comers, songs like ‘Give My Life to Jesus’ might only hit the spot with the believers in the crowd.
C, 0845 260 1234, until 25 Aug (not 18, 20, 22, 24), 6.05pm, £12.50–£14.50 (£8.50–£12.50).