Posts Tagged ‘ Edinburgh ’


Almost from the outset of this intriguing show we are plunged into darkness and my guess is that most of the audience were still in the dark as to what had just happened to them throughout this seventy minute experience long after the lights had gone up at its conclusion. This is a good thing by the way, a very good thing!
On entering we are told that we need a safety word, ‘Cut’, if we want to leave the proceedings at any time during the show, or journey as it would transpire; on the night I attended this introduction proved so unsettling that one attendee immediately raised her hand and left before any action even took place. Their loss.
Settling into our seats we are almost immediately plunged into darkness and when they go up we find ourselves on a plane. The lone performer, Hannah Norris, then leads us through the motions of an in-flight attendant but there is something especially creepy about this particular role and performance.
At later junctures we are on a train or trapped behind Clingfilm screens with light reflecting and refracting as a well scored original soundtrack adds further tension to an already intense experience.
At several points Norris moves around so swiftly and silently in the dark I am almost convinced that she is one of two twins, as often not only has her character changed but her appearance seems to have altered slightly. It is this sense of mystique and the loss of one of our senses-in the dark nothing can be seen or observed- that adds another dimension to what is already becoming a guessing game.
Norris uses only minimal props to change from controlling predator to victim- something as subtle as letting her hair out of its pony-tail changes the feel of her character totally- and holds us in her thrall throughout the whole performance.
There is something David Lynchian about this whole show and anyone who is a fan of his work-I am very much in that camp- will find this totally arresting and completely irresistible. It is definitely the most intriguing and original work I have seen in this year’s Fringe where these particular attributes have been very thin on the ground. Definitely recommended for those who want a theatrical experience to remember and think about!
Cut is at Underbelly Med Quad at 19.00 until August 29th



This high-octane, immersive and no holds barred adaptation brings Irvine Welsh’s defining novel Trainspotting back to its home city of Edinburgh. Stripped of its more familiar cinematic sheen it is a gutsy, highly visceral production from the aptly named In Your Face Theatre group who more than live up to their moniker from the outset.
Starting with a rave scene complete with glow sticks and fluorescent arm bands the action is pretty full on from the start. The familiar characters are all there: Sick Boy, Allie, Spud, Tommy, Begbie and a tour de force performance from Gavin Ross as Renton. Never holding back whether it is shit smeared sheets and bodies or full on nudity, this show is definitely not one for the faint hearted.
More compelling than the film version the squalid surroundings-a specially constructed venue- captures the desperation which defines the protagonists and their various habits. Familiar scenes are still there however including the speed induced interview and let us not forget the retrieval of an opium suppository from the world’s filthiest toilet bowl which is even more disgusting without the film version’s Brian Eno ambient track to sweeten the pill.
The cast are all extremely confident and weave in and out of the audience popping up and even exchanging insults whenever and wherever you least expect them to. It is like some beautiful form of chaos at some points.
Definitely a major player at this year’s Fringe Trainspotting is hard to beat in its sheer verve, adrenaline and chutzpah. Irvine Welsh would be more than proud with what they have done here!
Trainspotting is on at 6.00 and 8.30 August 14-17, 19-24, 26-31


Nick Cave

On his first solo outing without Mick Harvey a more stripped back, subtly embellished set was the order of last night’s show at Edinburgh Playhouse from Nick Cave. Opening with a brooding ‘Water’s Edge’, from 2013’s filmic ‘Push The Sky Away’ opus, the set moved through classic choices from all points of his solo career. Intimate in a way that would prove impossible to artists of lesser stature when playing an auditorium holding several thousand audience members the feeling was one of being in a private audience with the man.
The understated opening was swiftly continued with a sedate Cave-the towering Nosferatu figure from 2013’s shows retired throughout the show in favour of a more relaxed figure- seated at the grand piano taking us through ‘The Weeping Song’ then into a definitive ‘Red Right Hand’. Letting the songs speak for themselves the arrangements verged on sparse as Cave’s vocals in turn and sometimes simultaneously whispered, growled, seduced, roared and intimated as the mood required.
A rumbling ‘From Her To Eternity’ a rapturously received ‘Into My Arms’ an emotionally drenched ‘The Ship Song’ a filthy ‘Up Jumped The Devil’ an enthralling and absorbing ‘Higgs Boson Blues’ ‘Black Hair’ and ‘Jubilee Street’ were all major highlights. A rare live outing for ‘Brompton Oratory’ and a stunningly, radically reworked ‘The Mercy Seat’ also hit a spot few other artists can dream of aiming for never mind hitting on target.
This was just the main set and after leaving the stage for a few minutes Cave and his band returned with six encores including a beautiful cover of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Avalanche’ ‘ Push the Sky Away’ ‘God is in the House- with comedic interjections from the audience and Cave himself- before finishing on a resounding and triumphant ‘The Lyre of Orpheus’.
The sound throughout was concise and stripped back but reached climactic crescendos when required. His long standing musical collaborator, Warren Ellis, is obviously a major contributor in this and was justly recognised as such by the audience who gave him almost as loud a cheer of recognition as Cave himself received.
Definitely by the standards of Cave’s live shows this ranks amongst his finest. This time it was about the songs and the vocals and dramatic outbursts were few and far between but were used to great effect when needed. Definitely evidence-if evidence were needed-that Cave is a major player and belongs up there in the pantheon of the all time greats.


Just an Observation

Well with February over it seems to be the end of the self congratulatory awards season for the already self congratulatory entertainment industry. Culminating-I stop short of saying climaxing- with the most prestigious of the lot, the Oscars, this year admittedly threw up a few well deserved winners spread across many notable films although if there was one overall winner on the night then Steve Mc Queen’s ’12 Years A Slave’ probably reigned supreme.
The real winners for me however were Matthew Mc Conaughey and Jared Leto for, respectively, their roles as leading and supporting actor for ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ in two totally outstanding performances- Leto in particular gave the performance of a lifetime- in categories where they faced exceptionally strong competition especially in McConaughey’s case where Leonardo DiCaprio was snapping at his heels with his own winning performance in ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’. There was also the matter of that extremely self conscious selfie which must surely rate as one of the most glamorous and high octane of all time and thus hopefully encourage everyone else to give up this extremely vain and tiresome pursuit.
That was 2014’s winners however and in the interests of being one step ahead my attention has already turned to next years winners and am hoping that Wes Anderson’s latest all star extravaganza ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ will be worthy of a nomination next year. I will let you know as soon after I have seen it today as is possible.
Elsewhere on television this week the excellent BBC2 drama ‘Line of Duty’ took even more labyrinthine twists and turns with its plotlines until it has now reached the stage where I trust no one and believe everyone within the police force is now corrupt to some extent. Certainly the best thing on television at the moment it is surely a contender for winning several awards next year with Keeley Hawes as accused cop Lindsay Denton surely a runaway winner for best actress with an ambiguous performance of depth and emotion; one moment eliciting feelings of contempt the next winning our sympathies. It is definitely a bench mark performance and one that won’t be easily beaten.
Police corruption is certainly a theme very much of the moment with further revelations in the Stephen Lawrence case. My thoughts go out to his family who after more than twenty years are still unable to find any closure regarding his death. It seems the system is failing him in death as much as it did in his too short life.
This week I also attended the Goldfrapp event at the Cameo though inexplicably it was also taking place simultaneously at other venues around the city. Personally I feel it would have been better to concentrate the whole audience into one venue thus creating more of an event or ‘happening’ rather than spreading it around with sparser sprinklings. I am not convinced that Goldfrapp’s stature warrants several venues around a city as small as Edinburgh.
This is a minor complaint though as the show itself- a specially made film for new album ‘Tales of Us’ followed by a synced in live performance which was shown globally- was outstanding. The band’s performance and Alison Goldfrapp’s vocals were virtually pitch perfect and her talent as a live performer remains undisputed. Definitely an advert for the ‘less is more’ campaign there is no need for overt visual dynamics when charisma, style and class are all you need to carry a show.
Things to look out for in the coming weeks include an end of month gig at the Leith Franklin Rock’N’ Roll Club headlined by The Bonnevilles and featuring Geek Maggot Bingo supporting. I have been informed this is one not to miss so I intend not to. More details closer to the time.
This weekend however I intend to enjoy the first fruits of spring and try to avoid the inevitable weekend hangover as I favour a more restrained approach than usual. That is the plan but somehow I never quite manage to adhere to those!
Here to ease into the weekend is a song ‘Clay’ based on a love letter between two Second World War soldiers by Goldfrapp which was a highlight of Tuesday’s show.


Lux Lives and Tav Falco

This Friday sees Valentines Day-that day of schmaltz and slushiness-descend upon us yet again. However if you are no fan of all things fluffy-unless it is faux leopard skin- preferring ‘roses are dead, your skin is blue’ as a romantic couplet to the usual mush then I suggest you embrace your inner darkness and take it for a stroll in your skin tight snakeskin apparel along to Lux Lives,The Valentines Day Massacre in Edinburgh’s Henry’s Cellar Bar where a celebration of the late Cramps genius hosted by Colin Duff will be in full hedonistic, malevolent, primal beating and guitar twanging swing.
Starting five years ago- a mere ten days after Interior’s untimely death from Aortic Dissection- this night has garnered strength to the point as many would be punters were turned away as actually got in last year. There is even a follow up gig the next night -Saturday the 15th- at McChuills in Glasgow for those who can’t make the Friday date.
The line up for both these nights have some common factors-for full details follow the links at the bottom of the page for both shows- and amongst the many bands and artists performing songs the Cramps played and were inspired by are Bucky Rage, The Fnords, The Liberty Takers, Geek Maggot Bingo, Fanny Pelmet and the Bastard Suits and may other suitably named deviant types. A particular coup for this year’s line up is Sterling Roswell who was in the original classic line up of the legendary Spacemen 3.
For lovers of all things Cramps –and let’s face it who with a beating rock and roll heart does NOT love the Cramps- there is even a Lux Lives EP and a special very limited edition box featuring said EP, a specially commissioned T-shirt, a reproduction of the band’s first business card and several other items to be revealed on the night.
Riding in tandem with this event is an appearance by Tav Falco and the Panther Burns at the Edinburgh Voodoo Rooms on February 12th- the Glasgow show already took place on the 9th- and this should tie in neatly with those rock and roll purists drawn to the darker side of things. Renowned for working with Alex Chilton, cream of the Memphis underground and hung with the Cramps during the making of their debut album Songs the Lord Taught Us. All this and the likely possibility of his partner joining him onstage to perform some tango to spice the fires up even further promise a night not to be missed.
So I suggest this week is as good as any to look out your blackest of clothes, lizard and leopard skin prints and embrace the malingering darkness of your soul whilst having your senses assaulted and enthralled by the very basic instinct of rock and roll and get down, down, down with it.

Lux Lives Valentines Day Massacre February 14th, Henry’s Cellar Bar Edinburgh.
Lux Lives in Glasgow February 15th, McChuills.
Tav Falco and the Panther Burns, Voodoo Rooms Edinburgh February 12th.


Just an Observation

Well that is the festivities well and truly over and normal-or abnormal if you prefer- life can resume. It is interesting to hear conflicting views about Edinburgh’s New Year Street Party as the mainstream press are heralding it as the most successful ever with profits exceeding what they expected. However the story from residents and others on the street as well as my first hand experience is a tale coloured from a different palette.
It would seem Edinburgh Council are only interested in promoting financial gain as this is the only way they can assuage their guilt over the crippling losses the whole tram debacle has raised. There was no mention in their report of the river of piss or the mountain of bottles and broken glass which littered the streets at only 9pm-three hours before the bells even rang-I encountered as I made my way across the city. There was no mention again of the bloodied, battered, aggressive and staggeringly drunk groups of people I also encountered at this early time either. That a young girl was sexually assaulted in the Canongate a few yards away from drunken revellers is shocking but it is hardly surprising considering the lack of a police presence which was noticeable passing through the city centre. It was however, according to the Evening News headlines, a great success and plans are afoot to make it even more ‘successful’ next year.
By successful I take it they are talking about profit yet again but only profit which benefits those closest to their own ideologies. I wonder how many small independent businesses actually prosper at this time and how many others simply dread the carnage which accompanies this party which in my opinion has ruined Edinburgh’s Hogmanays which used to be about its populous and not simply tourists.
It would seem that this once historic city which is considered one of the top places in the UK to live is fast becoming a tourist only destination and whilst the Festival and Fringe are essential cultural endeavours I also feel that the Stag and Hen parties which dominate the streets and bars every weekend are not but for some reason something the council are not only hell-bent on encouraging but actively pursuing.
With the January blues in full downward swing I thought I would try my luck with the television schedules and was pleased to see ‘Swedish /Danish drama ‘The Bridge’ is back and its main character Saga Noren still socially inept although she is trying to modify her behaviour with often hilarious results. As far as TV detectives she is possibly the best creation ever with the possible exception of ‘The Killing’s’ Sarah Lund.
The most interesting programme of the past week however has to have been Channel 4’s‘The Secret of the Living Dolls’ wherein a previously little known counterculture was brought to a mainstream audience for the very first time. Described variously as creepy and weird it certainly is a cult that seems to be growing and with botox and surgery part of the mainstream these days it seems new taboos keep having to be created.
This one in particular involves the wearing of a second skin- a rubber like substance referred to as Femskin- a wig and female clothing. At one point one of the ‘dolls’ said this was the closest they would ever get to being one of the beautiful people and I had to laugh as minutes before I had spotted one of them wearing crocs which are not exactly renowned for taking you down that road to the beautiful people. Personally for someone who grew up with icons such as Leigh Bowery this is perhaps a natural step forward and for those who find it creepy and weird well I can only counter that I don’t find it as creepy or weird as those who favour stereotypical uniformity and shopping in Primark. Some may look at these Living Dolls and ask why whereas my initial reaction is why not?
The Living Dolls however may not split opinion quite as much as Channel 4’s other offering this week ‘Benefits Street’ which in a week which saw the Tories plan to slash benefits to pay the deficit –incurred mainly by bankers- whilst allowing the more privileged to remain virtually untouched came across as little more than propaganda. Channel 4 should be ashamed of themselves as the media is always quick to attack those on benefits or from the poorer sections of society and programmes like this only fuel the bias. A more reasoned approach is required showing how difficult life on benefits can be in a society which encourages consumerism and ever increasing household expenses.
Out at the cinema this weekend is the new Steve Mc Queen movie ’12 Years a Slave’ starring Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender and Chiwetel Eijofor which has been garnering a lot of attention prior to its release. A review will be posted on these pages over the weekend.
Although January is traditionally a quiet month it would already appear that February is shaping up to be something quite special. There are already two nights which promise not to be missed and they are ‘Lux Lives’- The Cramps based tribute night with various acts- on the 14th in Henry’s Cellar Bar and a Fini Tribe sound system experience in conjunction with the Rammed crew at the Voodoo Rooms, as part of their new single launch, on the 28th. More details about both of these events nearer the time but for now definitely two dates to save in the diary.


Just an Observation

So the streets are filled with Winter Wonderlands and tacky markets reminding us all that we have to spend money that most of us don’t have. I must admit though as I was walking home last night the fact that so many people were out and the streets were alive-usually after 6pm even Princes Street is pretty much deserted- was an encouraging sight that made me think if a few overpriced burgers and fairground rides can tempt folk away from the television, in the role of one eyed lodger, in their living rooms why is it so hard the rest of the year round?
Co-incidentally I had just attended a media event at the Voodoo Rooms which touched on this very subject as Olaf Furniss, who puts on the live music events Born to be Wide, and representatives of the Confusion is Sex clubnight discussed just how difficult it is to get Edinburgh residents to do anything remotely out of the ordinary or even more worryingly away from that scary place often referred to as a ‘comfort zone’.
Never having been able to locate the latter and fearing predictability in my nights out I have often found myself out on a limb and had to make the journey into the unknown alone as an Edinburgh characteristic seems to favour following the herd like sheep whilst levelling great distrust, hesitancy and disdain for anything new. There is also the matter of laziness and waiting for others to find things for them before they will make the leap themselves and it is a trait which, I hate to say, is particularly attributable to Edinburgh nightlife.
This was confirmed for me last weekend when it seemed the whole city seemed geared up for Joy’s reunion night at Studio 24. In the end event I never bothered attending- I had never really considered it as I personally do not favour revisiting my past- but even people too young to remember the club’s heyday were frothing at the mouth with anticipation about a night apparently ‘not to be missed’. Herein lies the problem with Edinburgh’s clubscene at the moment-believe me there is a big problem with it- in that there is sheep mentality only too willing to follow the crowd with a fear of missing out on something when in reality the only thing they are really missing is the point.
Exactly why so many young people were genuinely excited makes more sense when you consider they haven’t even managed to create a night of that calibre of their own and as in music and fashion they just attempt to follow what has gone before. This makes even more sense just walking the streets when you see so many of them with their heads buried in their phones with headphones on in their own self obsessed worlds, taking no interest and seeking no inspiration from the city, with its own particular vibrancy and rhythms, which actually surrounds them.
Last nights Voodoo Rooms event was essentially a night promoting the welcome return of former Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie star turned visual artist Martin Metcalfe. The artwork itself which features portraits of icons such as Bowie and Siouxsie as well as others of more personal acquaintance will be showing at Whitespace from December 14th. After a surprise appearance with former bandmate Shirley Manson of Garbage last week he is also performing live at Glasgow’s Bar and Fly on December 6th. As a taster of what to expect Metcalfe performed two songs last night rounding off with a rousing version of Jacques Brel’s ‘Amsterdam’ which left the room spellbound.
Elsewhere this weekend there is the 2014 Social Club at the Roxy in support of next years ‘Yes’ campaign for independence. Bands include the wondrous Teen Canteen and the equally wonderful The Merrylees as well as an appearance by Neu Reekie’s Michael Pedersen.
Generally steering away from politics in this column I will make an exception in this instance as the longer I have to suffer the ignominy of a Tory government- most of my adult life I recently calculated and yet in that time the Tories have always had minimal support in Scotland- and suffering the blindsided greedy politics of Lord Snooty and his band of old Etonians then the more in favour I am of breaking away.
It would seem that we are all on a countdown until Christmas now whether we like it or not. As I have never embraced it until the last minute and then usually under force I will carry on regardless until that moment overwhelms me. It is not actually Christmas which bothers me per se –I can take or leave it but still always enjoy the day- but the pressure to spend money coming at you from every conceivable angle is what wears me down. It all just feels so pressurised and I really don’t see a lot of enjoyment on peoples faces as they hand over their credit cards and realise they are going to be paying for presents for months to come simply because the media and big business dictate it this way. It all just rings hollow and false to me and this is not what the true spirit of Christmas is really all about. Therefore I shall hold back on the Christmas spirit- aside from the Amaretto in my coffee or Kahlua in my hot chocolate- until at least the 24th.