Doug Anthony All Stars
A hilariously dark return to the Fringe for the Aussie sickmeisters
You have to commend the Doug Anthony All Stars for having the tenacity to make a very long-awaited Edinburgh return. Having been a strong part of the late 80s / early 90s Fringe furniture, their original lineup has altered out of much recognition: whipping-boy guitarist Richard Fidler now has a proper job at ABC Radio in Australia while Tim Ferguson has multiple sclerosis and is in a wheelchair.
But rather than rest on those well-earned laurels for their rude songs and ruder chat, the trio is back (with new member Paul Livingston delivering the fancy fretwork), with full-throated bad-mouthing completely intact. If anything, their new situation has facilitated a fresh impetus, with some exceedingly dark humour wielded largely by Paul McDermott. Livingston gets it in the neck for having the temerity to be in his sixties and still alive while Ferguson is afforded no leeway by his old pal; though in fairness, he is equally fine with mining gags about his own condition.
So, did the profanity match the quality of their previous era? Well, hell yes. Numbers about Ebola (in the tune of The Kinks' 'Lola') and ISIS (using 'YMCA' as its melodic model) are a treat for those wondering whether they would have bothered to write new material, while their gore-drenched back-catalogue is plumbed for the iconic 'I Fuck Dogs'. Even their sober version of the 1950s Irish folk song, 'The Auld Triangle', finds new ways to mock Ferguson as he fails hilariously in his percussive duties on the titular instrument.
In an era when Fringe comebacks largely fall horrendously flat, DAAS can take pride in having produced a return with as much as life in it as the offerings from their halcyon days. Clearly there's less venue-trashing and more medication-swallowing among the gang, but hats off to the Dougs for making a wholly unsentimental return to the Fringe fray.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 14 Aug, 10pm, £15 (£14).