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Fringe: Music & Cabaret

Blues and Burlesque:

Hotter than Hell

Assembly George Square

Pete Saunders, of Dexy's Midnight Runners, welcomes us into a familiar scenario, the club on the point of closure and gives it a bluesy, lived-in narrative from the piano as the all-singing, all-dancing, ultra-competitive chorus line introduce themselves and there, as it were, moving parts to the audience.

Saunders does a decent job and his co-stars - Scarlet Belle and Vicious Delicious - enter into the burlesque spirit with more ham than a prosciutto merchant, some "ironing the cat", style singing and exploding pointy brassieres, but the show might fare better in a late-night, rather than afternoon, time slot.

Mary Coughlan

Famous Spiegeltent

MARY Coughlan has doubtless had some arguments in her time but even she didn't seem quite prepared for the Battle of St Andrew Square on Saturday. First came explosions from the Tattoo, an unavoidable competitor in a tented Fringe venue. Then came the band booked, bizarrely, into the neighbouring bar.

With a shrug and her favourite Galway term of resignation, Coughlan got on with it. It's what she does. There are no props, no lucky charms, just superb piano and double bass accompaniment and a woman who essentially sings her life. Just about the only thing about Coughlan that's not real is her hair colour, as she candidly concedes, and that, along with the vocal tone, the timing and nuance, is what makes her such a delight. Billie Holiday's repertoire is her guidebook - Billie's Blues was a been there, done that gem here - but there were elements also of pure Kurt Weill as she described houses of ill repute, ménages a trois and days being like scars on the calendar. Joy Division's Love Will Tear Us Apart, taken dead slow, was magnificent, as was the bass and voice carousal through I Want to Be Seduced. But look out especially for the happening that is Coughlan shaking off the token daughter, token wife chains and declaring that she wants to be bad.

Camille O'Sullivan: 10

Assembly Rooms

IF YOU'VE seen Camille O'Sullivan before, you'll know what to expect and if you've enjoyed her previous shows, you'll enjoy this celebration of her ten years of Fringe visits. She's assembled a set of favourites for her fans, including Nick Cave's God is in the House, David Bowie's Moonage Daydream, Dillie Keane's Look Mummy No Hands, and Kirsty MacColl's In These Shoes? - all of which are vocally rather overcooked.

O'Sullivan loves the stage and enjoys cueing her fine band in - and out, for an a cappella reading of Jacques Brel's Amsterdam. Each song is given its own character - Tom Waits' God's Away on Business is rendered as a briefly amusing child's tantrum - and the show as a whole has a certain rock theatre power, although at 90 minutes it errs on the generous side.

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