Berlin to Broadway:
The Songs of Kurt Weill
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People in positions of authority within Kurt Weill appreciation societies have apparently taken exception to Bremner Duthie's championing of their hero. They should cut the guy some slack because this show, on balance, is likely to swell their affiliations.
The New York-born Duthie, who spent much of his youth on the Aberdeenshire coast, has boned up on Weill to Mastermind specialist subject standard and while his singing of certain songs can be a little bombastic, he and his accompanist, Edinburgh-based pianist David Patrick, use the Outhouse's compact and bijou loft as their tardis, taking the audience into the essence of Weill's travels, troubles, inspirations and successes.
A baker's dozen of songs, with copious corresponding background and scene setting arrangements, are crammed into the hour. Love letters between Weill and his muse, Lotte Lenya, aid the fly on the wall impression and the most expected number, Mack the Knife, is dispensed with early as Duthie paints a broad, authoritative picture. Duthie owns up to yelling some of the Three Penny Opera items but having noted the two buildings that the young Weill's home sat between - church and theatre - he captures the possibilities of both in the parting Speak Low.
Run ends August 14
Gone Native: Nicholson & Gore
Bobby Nicholson and Kevin Gore got tired of seeing people from all over the world coming to Edinburgh in August to be entertained by people from all over the world, so they joined forces to present a home-grown perspective. Both singer-songwriter-guitarists, they split the hour between Gore's barstool philosopher with a world view persona and Nicholson's more localised, jack-the-lad observations on life (such as it might be on TV docusoap The Scheme), loafin', love and Edinburgh Zoo's pandas, who take a merciless, scabrous kicking. If rough and ready entertainment's your late afternoon preference, this might be for you, although on this hearing, their shared rendering of Wild Mountain Thyme is possibly not the most winning finale on the Fringe.
Run ends August 25
Graeme Mearns: Acoustic Swing
The PG rating is not without substance as things get a mite salty during Graeme Mearns' autobiographical reflections in a programme that manages to gather the Ramones, the Buzzcocks and Lou Reed songs under the swing umbrella. There's a musicality at the heart of Mearns' rough-hewn guitar picking and woozy crooning of jazz standards, some of which have a bar-room cowboy twang. Despite his roguish charm, a little goes a long way and he'd lost a few of his audience by halfway. Slipping in Moon River and Billie Holiday's God Bless the Child, which showed sensitivity, earlier might give his hour onstage a more persuasive balance.
Run ends August 24
Orkestra Del Sol
There is no way you cannot dance to Orkestra del Sol. Their sun-soaked blend of brilliant bonkersness leads you like a child to the pied piper to something seriously good fun. With their funked-up jazz tones to crazy klezmer style beats, their unique blend of global rhythms gets even the most staid of audience members up on their feet and boogying down to a blend of who know's what! A hugely skilled collection of musicians, this band of players displayed their musical dexterity with highly complex soprano saxophone solos juxtaposed with bold, brazen harmonies in the lower brass, underpinned by their now legendary sousaphone. With the band's name clearly stencilled on the rim of its horn, this instrument could easily be mistaken for solely taking pride of place. Not so, however, as nothing could for a second mask the fact that this group of players are all incredibly skilled instrumentalists. Their expertise amounts to no bounds as each instrument on stage has its moment, from nimble accordion solos to zesty trumpet tunes. Playing with catchy syncopation and a cheeky sense of humour, Orkestra del Sol are bound to make you move your feet.