Talent in a Previous Life

Because It's Never Just About the Music

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Hair-ible band, Incredible Band 

On Sunday night I headed up to the Edinburgh Corn Exchange to see the Polyphonic Spree do a gig. The Corn Exchange, for the uninitiated, is basically a big box with a stage at one end with better acoustics than listening to the gig underwater, but only just. It is not the best venue in the world.

But I digress, the horrible band mentioned in our really rather badly punned headline, were I Am Kloot (No bold print for them, that’ll show ‘em). They’re horrible not only because of the fact that they are standard, dull, indie rock, of the kind that only a person truly fearful of surprise and interest would love. No, they’re horrible as they chose to introduce their last song with the phrase, and I quote semi-accurately, “We’re normally very charismatic and up, but we’re not really doing that tonight. Maybe that’s because I don’t like the Polyphonic Spree, I think they’re a fucking tragic outfit”. Which isn’t really very polite.

No matter though as the incredible band mentioned in the headline was, unsurprisingly, the Spree. Still the greatest band currently together (i.e., they’re not Ooberman, or Lush), they rocked my world in a beautiful way. Opening with Hanging Around the Day, which, alas, no longer goes straight into Solider Girl now, they actually made a spirited attempt at sounding good in the Corn Exchange. All the favourites were played, the tartan smock made a reappearance for the encore and Solider Girl was played twice in a row and succeeded in sounding even more excellent the second time.

Basically, they’re fab, and if you have any sort of love and soul in your body go and see them. You will not be disappointed. And if you are disappointed, then you clearly have no sort of love in your body and should go and have a chat with Elton John.

Sunday, August 24, 2003

Perry-hair, C-hair-lotte and Oth-hair things. 

Well, it’s nearly all over, just two more days and normal service will be returned at this site, i.e. it’ll still be unfunny but it won’t have the benefit of vague usefulness, but at least we'll stop running 'hair' puns into the ground. On Tuesday we’ll give you a list of Best/Worst things. About the Fringe that is. Not stuff that Mr Bestworst has been up to. But until then, here’s a list of some of the highlights of the last week.

The big news is that at midnight the winner of this years Perrier award was announced. Despite the fact that the award clearly belonged to Natalie Haynes, it went to Demetri Martin instead. In fact, Natalie wasn’t even nominated. Indeed, it seemed that not being in possession of a Y chromosome made you ineligible for entry for the prize. Don’t get me wrong, Demetri is fantastic and out of the shortlist was certainly a deserving winner. I’m just not totally convinced that the shortlist was all that it could have been. Best Newcomer went to new romantic/electro pop parody Gary Le Strange who is very good, particularly if you have any sort of love for the era whatsoever, and for musical comedy the songs are actually quite good, if slightly obvious musical parodies at times. The show did dip a little bit in the second half, and there’s not really anywhere else for the character to go, but he is well worth checking out if you can. Having said that though, I personally preferred Alex Horne : Making Fish Laugh, which was also nominated. An inventive piece recreating experiments on the ten stimuli which make people laugh. The only real problem with it is that it does rely on having a ‘good’ audience in who are prepared to go along with the flow.

Also seen this week were Charlotte Hatherly and her backing band of boys, also known as Ash, though to be honest they could quite easily have been anyone for the amount of attention I paid to that side of the stage. A good greatest hits set, fantastic version of Envy with some lovely “Ooh-Wooh”’s by Chaz, each one of which simply strengthens it’s position as one of the greatest pop songs ever. The new songs weren’t exactly fantastic though, and support band Stellastar* simply showed that it’s not easy to do what Interpol do.

Comedy wise we caught Mike Daisey – 21 Dog Years: Doing Time at Amazon.com, which was very American and clearly had lots of stuff cut out to fit into the hour long slot. Sarah Kendall, who is Australian and fantastic with a well structured show despite the seeming amateurishness of it at times (and I mean that in a good way), excellent delivery and facial expressions, even if she does look like Ed Byrne on occasion, which is slightly disconcerting. Also on a fantastic tip is Stephen K Amos who I finally managed to see after his free performance of the night of the evacuation, possibly the only show ever that will end on miming to a Five Star song and an audience sing-a-long to Will Smith’s cover of Light My Fire. He normally does the warm-ups for Have I Got News For You and other such shows, skills that were not necessary in the Gilded Balloon Nightclub which is the hottest venue I’ve been in this year. I know it’s a cliché to go on about the heat in venues during the Fringe, but when the staff need to hand out water to the audience, surely someone must realise that something needs to be done?

Another show which deserves a mention is The Father, The Son and Holy Moses which was a piece of Finnish Physical Theatre. I met the people behind it in the pub and they said it was excellent in their unbiased view, so off I went to see it, admittedly with some trepidation and fear, but they were right, it was excellent, starting off in a comedic vein, before moving onto a genuinely surprising and moving ending. The only real downside was that there was far too many occasions where we saw the performers arse, i.e., once.

Sunday, August 17, 2003

Hair Goes Nothing 

OK, I’ve now seen 25 shows, which is probably more comedy seen than can be considered healthy. I’ve seen more permutations of material on both Iraq and, slightly bizarrely, Diagnosis Murder than I ever thought possible. Still, here’s a quick look at what’s been on in the last couple of days.

In terms of ‘Big Names’, I’ve seen Mel and Sue and Bill Bailey. Mel and Sue are, unsurprisingly, fab. This is due to the simple fact that it is Mel and Sue live on stage, and is therefore another one of the top 17 most fantastic things of all time ever. I don’t feel there is any need to explain their amazingness any further, so I’ll stop.

Bill Bailey, on the other hand, was the very definition of ‘Not bad’ when I saw him on Friday. Admittedly this is partly my fault as due to a distinct lack of organisation, rather than seeing him in a proper venue, I saw him at one of his extra shows in the Edinburgh International Conference Centre. Now, while I’m sure the EICC is an ideal venue to see your Managing Director give a keynote speech on your company’s place in the world of plastic teaspoons, it’s not exactly an environment conducive to a good comedy gig. Unfortunately though, even bearing this in mind, the performance was distinctly lack-lustre:- for an all-new show, a lot of the material had been seen before, and the new material wasn’t the best in the world, highlights included Portishead’s version of Zippedee-do-dah, which is hardly an up-to-date reference point, and a dance version of the BBC news theme. It was a decent enough show, but isn’t going to be troubling my top ten any time soon.

Time was also spent getting my money’s worth out of the license fee by going to see two Radio 4 recordings and Greg Proops on Radio Scotland. The fact that my laughter has now been broadcast on national radio is, I realise, the closest I will ever get to my fifteen minutes of fame, so I shall consider that to be the highpoint of my life.

Simon Evans is decent enough, but seems more like the sort of comedian who’s funnier written down, rather than performing, while Mitch Benn and the Distractions was a lot better than I expected him to be, and does a fantastic version of Macbeth performed in the style of Eminem. The main problem is that the sound quality is a bit piss-poor, which isn’t a good thing given that Mitch is all about the musical comedy and not being able to hear the lyrics does kinda spoil the enjoyment a bit, having said that though, his bikini topped drummer is very foxy and does provide a suitable alternative when this happens.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

More to S-hair 

Well, we’re over half way through the Fringe now, and the leftmost sidebar has remained pretty much unchanged in terms of best and worst shows. I don’t expect this to change now to be honest, I’m loathe to remove Natalie from her top spot because she is just so fab, and I really, really, really hope that I don’t see a show as bad as Janet Street-Porter’s so with any luck I won’t need to change that.

That’s not to say that nothing has come close to pushing Miss Haynes from her top slot. Last night I saw Korean/American stand-up Tina Kim who was fantastic. Unfortunately, however, there was only 11 people in the venue to see just how fantastic she is, which made the atmosphere a little bit awkward at the start, which is a shame, as I imagine she would be even better with a fuller, more responsive and slightly less embarrassed audience. Telling tales of her upbringing, wanting to be white, wanting a man, her slightly mad parents, wanting to be black, wanting a man, etc, she’s a very open and easy to like performer and should be seen by everyone who wants to be reminded that pure, simple, straight stand-up is great and that you don’t need to have a complicated interactive slide-show to be worth seeing. So go and see her, she deserves a bigger audience, and besides, when she’s selling out the enorma-venues next year you’ll be kicking yourself at missing out on these more intimate shows.

Speaking of complicated interactive slide-shows, Live Ghost Hunt features such a thing, and is also a show worth seeing, thus totally negating my point in the above paragraph, but never mind. Featuring a Welsh paranormal expert, a psychic and a goth, this show aims to discover whether the Pleasance Cavern really is the most haunted venue in Edinburgh. Good interplay between the characters, some surprisingly effective special effects and a willingness to embrace sillyness overcome the slight obviousness of some of the jokes and the awareness that they very much want this to become a TV series.

Saturday, August 09, 2003

Grin When You're Dissing 

Ooh look. This post isn’t about the Fringe, but it is about another of TiaPL’s obsessions, which is the general rubbishness of Robbie Williams. In is his latest ironically titled single, Something Beautiful he declares that “If you’re lost, hurt, tired and lonely, something beautiful will come your way.”. This is quite clearly nonsense. If you are lost, hurt, tired and lonely, you are most likely a mountain climber who has fallen off a rockface and is currently lying in a twisted state in some secluded valley, no doubt showing the initial symptoms of hypothermia. At best, mountain rescue may come your way, and, as most Mountain Rescue types are bearded wearing bright orange kagouls, you would seriously be stretching the term to call them something beautiful, no matter how relieved you would be to see them.

However, this is only at best. What is far more likely to happen is that you will suffer a slow, miserable and painful descent into panic induced madness, followed by a death, leaving your corpse to be discovered displaying a frozen look of pain upon it’s features. Again, not exactly the dictionary definition of ‘something beautiful’. These are the facts Robbie, no matter how many cymbal crashes you use to represent punctuation marks.

Hair's some more 

There’s a slight dilemma here as technically I should replace Natalie Haynes with Rob Brydon in the Best Show slot on the left hand side of this page, but I’m not going to. Partly because I’m beginning to develop a worrying obsession with Miss Haynes but mainly because Rob is already a top TV star and doesn’t really need the (practically non-existent) oxygen of publicity that being given the best show accolade would offer, and besides, he’s not doing a full Fringe run anyway. Suffice to say though, that his show is excellent, Keith is beautifully convincing on stage giving us his talk about how to handle divorce and to miss seeing this live would be an act of stupidity akin to attempting to cut of both your hands by yourself. Or not seeing Natalie Haynes.

Other acts that deserve a mention include Demetri Martin and Daniel Kitson, both of whom are doing shows that are slightly twee and away from the standard stand-up conventions. Daniel doing a made-up story about a girl, some apples and a boy named Beth, while Demetri tells a real tale about his own life and his slightly anal character traits. Demetri’s show is better than Daniel’s, but they’re both worth checking out if you like something that has a bit more of a structure than your standard comedians 20 minute set stretched out to an hour.

Go and see Paul Tonkinson if you’re very drunk as he’ll probably seem really fab. I had only had a couple, so he was merely not bad in my view. Don’t go and see Janet Street-Porter no matter what state you’re in, unless you really like watching an under-rehearsed woman do a badly performed show, with little of interest to man, beast or member of Radiohead.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Hair-oes of the Hour 

So, there I was, heading towards the Gilded Balloon Teviot to see Plat du Noit, a show that was clearly going to be so outstanding that they were giving away free tickets for it. As I arrived at the venue at the appropriate time, I noticed a steady stream of people leaving the place. This is not a good sign if the place is emptying before the show actually begins. As it turns out, I’ll never know if the show was a masterpiece or not, as the Balloon was being evacuated due to a fire alert. Normally this would have been a bit of a bugger, but, amongst the stream of audience members leaving was top comedian Stephen K Amos who was in the middle of doing his show when the evacuation began. Following him were his audience, who he led to the middle of Bristo Square and carried on with his show. Unsurprisingly a lot of other people quite fancied the idea of free comedy, so a much larger crowd began to form around him. Sensing a publicity opportunity a number of comedians also got in on the act, and what began as a fire alarm turned into an hour and a half long impromptu comedy gig featuring a vast selection of up and coming talent from the fringe, including an appearance by the fantastic Daniel Kitson. Unfortunately, all good things had to come to an end, and after slightly rubbish musical comedian Mitch Benn likened himself to Jesus, the heavens opened and the crowd dispersed.

Still, fun while it lasted though, although most bitterly I can’t get a refund on my free tickets as they do state, quite clearly, that they are free. Bastards!

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Hair-tfelt Apologies. 

Hello. Sorry for the lack of updates, but we've been quite busy both working and seeing shows, so we've not actually had time to tell all 5 of you what we've seen that's been great and what's been about as much fun as listening to the new Stereophonics album while having all of your body parts sawn off slowly, but all the while making sure your aural senses remain in perfect working order. We will try and put some proper reviews up soon, but for now we'd like to reccommend Natalie Haynes as she is, quite simply, an absolute star and is one of the best things I’ve ever seen in all my years of Fringe going, and I’m not just saying this because she is basically me if I was a) a girl, b) funny, and c) had left a job as a teacher due to sleeping with one of my pupils. You will not be disappointed if you see her, I promise. I would guarantee it, but promises have no legal comeback, which can only be a good thing.