It’s only rock’n’roll but I like it!

So last night was a bit of alright! I was in the Voodoo Rooms (Venue 68 come August, very nice but rather warm, real ale in the bar) for the launch of Logan’s Close new EP “Fried Bangers.” Sold out so it was very packed and very warm. I got there shortly after the second band came on (sorry to Shredd, I’m sure you were awesome too), Ayakara who were pretty fine. There was a good contingent of their fans in the crowd (they knew the words!)  After procuring myself a pint of Joker IPA I found a good spot to see the band and be faintly wafted by what air-con there was from time to time, unfortunately as usual some beanpoles took up their strategic positions to block at least half the band from sight at any given moment.

Pardon me a little rant here. So okay, I am quite a shortarse but even average-sized humans can’t compete with those guys and they do like to go centre towards the front. Beanpole may not have been the correct word, that suggests tall and thin, these guys are pretty often quite broad, not easy to see around! There should be a line three-quarters of the way back that anyone over six foot has to stand behind – it’s not like they wouldn’t be able to see over our heads!!    And breathe.

Where was I? Being gently wafted before getting another pint of Jokers and wading back in to find a spot to watch the Close. This time I was at the side, a better view than I would have had in the now packed out centre, but no wafts to cool me down. Oh, the lads were on top form! Just, just, bloody marvellous, shit hot, astoundingly awesome! These are the guys I’ve been waiting for, finally a band worthy of the rock’n’roll crown hung up since the demise of Nick Johnson and Bluefinger!

I first saw Bluefinger in 1988 in the then Preservation Hall and followed all incarnations of the band until Nick left Edinburgh for Spain permanently  (he had been semi-regularly coming back over to play but had decided it was time to stop) and was sadly killed in an motorcycling accident about a year or so later in 2010. Bluefinger were a force of nature, even when it was only Nick on guitar and Ed on flamenco box drum, they rocked up a storm in Whiski on the Royal Mile during the Fringe in 2007. Bud and I would wander in late after a show, sit at the bar and soak up the vibes, and when Ed would do his box solo in Not Fade Away, wow, people would get up from their seats, crane their necks, a mass movement towards the band to see how one guy’s hands could create such a sound. Ed was always good but some nights he was totally “in the zone”, man, I will never forget how great those nights were.

Aaand, back to Logan’s Close again. Indeed, I get the same feeling of blissed-out happy watching them; Big Nick would approve of them inheriting his crown. But will they be playing Edinburgh during the Fringe – you may wonder, oh yes!! If you’ve read my early posts you may have spotted that I must have broken my self-imposed Fringe Code if I am aware of this fact. Okay, so I get emails from the Fringe whenever a new batch of shows are up online; I just had to check if the Ukulele Death Squad were coming back (yippee, they are), at the same time I noticed the Close were playing, and at a venue I’ve never been to before, ooo.

I also spotted Bon the Musical, yes, a musical about Bon Scott!! I’m not sure how I feel about it, if they don’t get it right it could be terribly wrong! Maybe I’ll check reviews before I commit to it, at £12 a ticket that could be a big mistake. Mind there’s always the chance they may put some tickets for sale at the Half Price Hut. There’s also the fact I am still a Friend of the Fringe which brings the benefit of 2for1 tickets for a long list of shows which this year includes all three shows mentioned above 😊. I could purchase pairs of tickets, then offer the pleasure of my company and a half price ticket on Facebook, I could, it might be quite fun.

Toodle pip!

 

 

Paddington: The Fringe Show.

I just went back to see Paddington 2 for a second time, almost seven weeks after I first went to see it – I guess it’s a success, not many films stay on the big screen that long these days. Once back home I did that thing folk like to do these days, looked up the film on IMDb to see who’s done what where. But what! What! Tim Fitzhigham and Dan Antopolski were both in it and I missed them? Oh, and Cal McCrystal had a cameo besides being the Physical Comedy Consultant. FYI all Fringe favourites of mine.

Justin Edwards and Richard Ayoade were also in it, didn’t miss them, well it would be hard not to spot Richard Ayoade, who, incidentally, was being directed by Paul King (director of both Paddington films) in Garth Marenghi’s Netherhead the first time I saw him at the Fringe many years ago! One last tentative Fringe connection Tom Conti, well, I’ve seen him in town in August – up to see Nina?

In fact the first evening I saw Paddington 2, I saw Justin Edwards twice as he also had a part in The Death of Stalin (oh yes, two films in one evening with a trip to Nando’s sandwiched between them, well, I do have an unlimited viewings card). At the Fringe Justin Edwards had a magnificent creation the children’s entertainer Jeremy Lion, possibly one of my Desert Island Fringe Shows! More on him another time.

It is great when I see folk who I’ve seen in small, sweaty venues on the big screen, guess it reflects how long I’ve been fringing. Both Paddington films are excellent, having all the elements in the right proportions to make cinematic classics, and they came from a guy who first directed at the Fringe. What an inspiration! Crikey, I’ll be singing Circle Of Life next!

Next film I’ll go see may well be Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri by Martin McDonagh, who also wrote the bloodiest play I’ve ever seen, or will probably ever see again, at the Fringe,  The Lieutenant Of Inishmore. See another Fringe connection!

 

 

On the fringe of 2018

2018-01-02 22.21.19.jpg20180101_125146.jpg2018-01-01 22.50.59.jpgSo here we are in a new year, another Fringe to look forward to. Who will return? Who will come up for the first time? Will Barry Ferns return to do a This Arthur’s Seat Belongs to Lionel Ritchie show? Speaking of Arthur’s Seat, besides popping up to the top in August, it is a popular tradition on New Year’s Day to climb to the summit to celebrate the New Year – often with a tot of whisky or slug of champagne, after all it is thirsty work getting up there!

Once the breath has been caught, noses blown, a toast imbibed and the view thoroughly admired, it’s time for the photographic evidence that you were there. “Excuse me, but would you mind taking a photo of us?” is the question of the day in so many different accents from around the world, for a damp hilltop it’s very cosmopolitan! I take it many hoteliers or Trip Advisor must mention it as the number one thing to do on the 1st – at least it’s free!

We even had reasonable weather for most of the day this year, though it was very muddy underfoot, almost as slip slidy as ice. While going up gets quite arduous near the top, coming back down over slippery rocks and mud is a rather scarier for those of us with a touch of vertigo. A sturdy stick does help steady the nerves, or another tot of whisky!

So hopefully you’ll get to see a photo of yours truly at the top, another looking up at the hordes from lower down and the third looking over Edinburgh with a clear view of the Castle. Do let me know if they haven’t appeared. Cheers, m’dears!

 

 

McNeil & Pamphilon: which ones were they?

Ones who gave out badges at the end of their show, yay! I do like a show that has free badges at the end. That was in the Pleasance Dome in 2011, the show was McNeil & Pamphilon: Which One Are You?, which besides sketches had them looking at their differences and how fans have their favourite of the two (I was definitely a Pamphilon). These two are very funny and play off each other brilliantly, they’re so relaxed and endearing it felt like watching two pals bantering in the pub, keeping everyone else thoroughly entertained and happy just to listen.

Okay at times they seem disturbingly close, like when McNeil had to touch Pamphilon’s balls – it’s there in my old Fringe diary, followed by “(rubber glove and lube)”?! McNeil also drew the short straw in the fashion stakes, Pamphilon looks cool in anything, but McNeil can make the same clothes look crap, demonstrated to make the point (oh, it was well made) by borrowing a hoody from an audience member. Old diaries are fun, apparently the School Rabbit Sketch was VERY sick and funny, I’m sure it was, wish I had one of those memories that can actually recall details! I gave them four stars.

We saw them again in 2012, this time in the Baby Grand at the Pleasance Courtyard, a small, hot room, so, much like most venues then. Threading through the show was Pamphilon’s body-swapping machine and the joke that he fancied McNeil’s mum. Another four stars given.

2013 was the first time they brought Go 8-Bit to the Fringe, and more badges! Yay! Despite never having been much of a videogamer, I thoroughly enjoyed it seeing the enthusiasm and competitiveness it brought out! And the horror of some of the forfeits the lads, as team leaders, had to endure, well Pamphilon mainly. Forfeits like downing three shots of cheap vodka, eating a jar of chillies, getting dead-armed by all the winning team. All good fun, and worth five stars!

Oo, 2014 it went hi-tech, instead of, please switch off your mobile, it was, switch it on, go to the website and vote for who you think will win each video game. Umm, I didn’t bother, ok, so more like I was still getting used to my first android phone and didn’t really know what to do. Just as well, turned out that one lucky person who voted would then be randomly picked to play in the next game, aargh, like seriously, no way could I have done that! Hmmm, back down to four stars!? I did note that the forfeits weren’t as cruel as the previous year’s, was that a reason to lose a star?

As luck would have it, flicking through tv channels on 5th September 2016, I settled on a show on Dave hosted by Dara O’Briain, he’s usually a safe bet. Then, oo, isn’t that Steve McNeil, and there’s Sam Pamphilon, blimey Charlie, Go 8-Bit’s made it on to the telly! Nice one. Hang on, why is it Dara’s? No, it’s not yours Dara, it’s Sam and Neil’s, give it back! That was literally my thought process over the time it was on. Hey ho, maybe Dave wanted a bigger name to be able to entice viewers in. There’s been two series shown so far and another coming up next year. Well worth a watch, with a few beers, natch. It’s still great to see how competitive and focused some comedians can be, yeah right, Calman, it’s just a game!

Shame they don’t do the really cruel forfeits  😆

 

Nick Helm on Dave

I was just flicking through the telly channels when I happened upon Eat Your Heart Out With Nick Helm. Huh? Nick Helm has a food programme now?! Mr Shouty was conversing in French and later showing off his few words in Portuguese, all in lovely mild manner. Hmmm (looks into the distance, head to one side, a hazy wibbly-wobbliness takes us back, back…)

Friday 3rd August 2012, rushed home from work to get to the Pleasance Queen Dome in time for Nick Helm: This Means War. My choice, I just really like the poster, very Flashman/ Rik Mayall’s Bombardier, it worked for me. I had heard he was quite loud, quite loud?! He came on singing a Motorhead song, well, shouting it, then he seriously ripped into some of the audience, boy, was I glad we were well back in the middle of a row. One poor chap ended up on stage peeling spuds and being yelled at for most of the show, but while we felt the fear we enjoyed the show anyway.

I didn’t see Nick Helm again until 2015, well to be fair, in 2014 he only did two nights at the Pleasance Grand at £15 a pop, that’s ’cause he’d made it on to the telly in Uncle. Then in 2015, he appeared on the Free Fringe with a catchy show title, Nick Fuckin’ Helm: My Edinburgh Hour. This time, a young chap at the front who hadn’t clapped and laughed enough was made to sit behind Nick on the stage so that a more appreciative lady could gave the seat, again I was glad to be well back in the crowd! It was another very entertaining show, especially as the venue sound limiter kept cutting out the microphones whenever he sang – it’s not like Nick Helm really needs amplification in a room that size anyway!

So, his new tv show on Dave, well I really enjoyed it. Him and a mate just go places, eat loads of food and meet the chefs who cook it, and he’s quite sweet actually. There were two half hour shows together, the second had Nish Kumar as the buddy, he’s another chap who’s doing rather well these days. I saw him doing McNeil and Pamphilon’s Go 8-Bit back in 2013 and 2014, yes, at the Fringe it was theirs, not Dara O’Briain’s.

More about that later.

 

 

Tidy flat up ✔

So that’s all my ironing finally up to date – who knew a moose could own so many shirts?! I do also iron my bedsheets, that first night getting in between clean, ironed sheets is bliss. What?! So I’m a moose who likes his home comforts, what’s wrong with that?

The kitchen surfaces are visible again, I have clean glasses and mugs and all the pizza boxes are gone (there is a rather good, cheap pizza takeaway just up the road where I can pop my head through the door and though there may be a crowd between me and the counter an exchanged nod has my funghi pizza on the go). All the pots and pans are back in the cupboard, neglected plants are all watered.

My Ukulele Death Squad cd has been a great accompaniment, some tunes really are worthy of a Tarantino soundtrack. Keeping with the aussie theme, after about the fourth playthrough I put on some Screaming Jets to keep the cleaning pace up. Maybe some AC/DC later on? Oh yeah, there’s an INXS album somewhere around (yes, that would be a vinyl album) haven’t played that for years.

Fringe Fund checked and approved. Another Fringe over with some left in the kitty, yay. So that was 44 shows in total: 12 previews, 5 Assembly residents offer, 1 241 Tuesday,  10 Half Price Hut,  2 Pay What You Want,  5 Free Fringe and 9 full price tickets. And despite the rants of some folk about how expensive Fringe tickets are (they seem to think all shows cost at least £15), my average price has been under £6 a ticket! Ok, so I have not included the booking fees of £7.20 in that, but that would still be under £6.

I didn’t even use any of my Friends of the Fringe 241 deals, mind if we’d arranged to see Aidan Goatley a day later that would have been one. So is it worth still being a Friend of the Fringe? Well, I did make the most of this year’s new benefit of being able to buy Half Price Hut tickets in the Friends of the Fringe Hut, really that saved a lot of queuing and no booking fees!

Still nibbling my way through a Fringe chocolate bar. This year Edfringe In Your Mouth was launched and very tasty it is too, especially the Dark Chocolate with Rose Oil – there’s rose petals in it too! As a young moose I didn’t care for dark chocolate, but in the last few years I’ve come to appreciate the luxurious, velvetiness of the dark side. One small piece savoured is enough at a time. After all, a little of what you fancy does you good!

 

 

 

 

Fireworks ignite old volcano

Oh, every year I have this image of the fireworks getting bigger and bigger until everyone realises it’s the volcano reactivating spewing molten rocks into the air and lava flows down the Royal Mile.

So only one show to go, Will Seaward’s spooky midnight ghost stories one more time, and maybe a pop into the Pleasance Courtyard on the way!

Toodle pip!

A late contender

So it’s almost over for another year, already some venues have reverted back. The flyerers have been making a big effect today to fill that last performance, all those I’ve chatted to have loved their time in Edinburgh and would come back again another year if the opportunity arises. It’s even been good weather this weekend, so I’ve been out getting a few more photos.

About now I start composing my Fringe Top 20, oo this year there’s a few in there for top spot. On Friday I went to the Underbelly warren in the Cowgate (very surprisingly the only time I’ve seen a show there this year) for Nick Coyle:Queen of Wolves, ok so I’d been hoping it might Half Price Hut at some point but I finally bowed to my instinct and bought a full price ticket. Like, cor Blimey guv’nor, so worth every penny.

This was outstanding, as a naive, nervous Bronte-style governess he was very good, and he can play the cello. Yes, it was a comedy but the horror aspects were quite chilling. The moving chair and falling books, the sounds around the house, the incessant sound of the rain, all really kept the tension going. Nick Coyle kept his audience gripped from start to finish, and that finish! Well done, sir! If I wore a hat I would take it off to you!

 

Shine on Elsie Diamond

The end is in sight, this time next week Edinburgh will seem so bare and empty, sigh. So to cheer myself up from the impending gloom I took myself off down to CC Blooms to the exquisite Elsie Diamond in her new one woman show, The Sensible Undresser. I first saw Elsie last year as The Sensible Dresser, where she recounted tales of a dresser in an Opera House who has dreams of being a great singer; some hilarious stories, some bittersweet and a singing voice to raise you up or break your heart, oh, and a finale from Les Mis that really showed her vocal prowess and other charms!

Did I mention Elsie is a burlesque performer? Costumes are put on behind a screen at the side of the stage to be teased off again to music, and give the girl a couple of large feather fans, wowzah! Hubba hubba!

This year’s tale of the Undresser is about Joanne who on seeing a burlesque show decides to become Winnie Sparkletits, from underdog to success to saggy tits to final self-awareness and acceptance (and another astoundingly good final number). The costumes are brilliant (love that headdress), voice as stunning as ever, beautiful, sexy, smart, saucy and charming! All in one delightful package!

Wowzah!