Les Clochards: Dirty but Nice, Assembly George Square


The scoop is that these vagabonds, apparently hailing from an island near Corsica, have been perpetually ripped off by the music industry and are here to share the original versions of songs they wrote but were made famous by – ooh la la – it's a long list but Madonna and Peter Gabriel will do for starters. Thus we hear Like a Virgin in its intended ballad form and Sledgehammer thumping powerfully on a double bassline with a melodica where the synths might have been.

That they maintain this gag, with much guttural pidgin English, is just part of the fun that sees Les Clöchards apologise repeatedly for not being a comedy act while delivering exactly that (and then some) as well as brilliantly timed moves and inspired lunacy such as Girls Just Wanna Have Fun with an unlikely but convincing Stylophone riff. It's a tight, well-honed performance referencing the Stones, Santana, Nancy Sinatra, the Jungle Book, Roxette and rap with punchy musicality and bags of character.

Ends August 27



ROB James begins by making a caged bird disappear into thin air. Then he does it again. It's by no means the last time he'll make things serially vanish then reappear in an hour that causes more head scratching among the audience than a plague of nits.

Compared to some tricksters, James is a gentlemanly sleight of hand master – so you can bring all the family – with an unhurried, graceful manner. Except when he's picking pockets. His lightning-swift appropriating again and again of two volunteers' watches, wallets, mobile phones, belt, tie and specs case was both scarily efficient and hilarious and his conversion of a young, spontaneously chosen assistant from a magic ingénue into an ace cup, ball and – from seemingly nowhere – lemon switcher was typical of this unassuming, generous, and superbly authoritative entertainer.

Ends August 25



POSSIBLY only during the Fringe will you find yourself in a selectively populated, out-of-hours strip club listening to a deranged You Are My Sunshine with an agreeably bonkers kazoo solo. Welcome, then, to the camp demimonde wherein keyboardist, accordionist and ukulele strummer Joe Black exerts his tuneful depravity on his own tales of lust, cannibalism, arson and sexual limitations (the mirthfully graphic No Butts) as well as variously poignant, scabrous and whooping covers of Dolly Parton, Radiohead and Britney Spears songs. With a full house Black could cause a good-natured riot. As it is, the image of him in his underpants, roaring It's Raining Men karaoke-style in his minder's arms while twirling a green sock that had recently been exaggerating Black's assets will stay with me for some time.

Ends August 25

Rob Adams



HOT on the heels of a premiere in London last month, Little Room Productions bring The Wolves Descend, a sinister yet decidedly funny modern opera. Set in rural Croatia, the owners of a guesthouse dependant on trade from tourists keen to spot the famed werewolves in the surrounding forests conspire to do whatever it takes to keep their business alive after a lull in werewolf attacks.

With a cast of talented young singers the clever story of The Wolves Descend unfolds in an engaging and entertaining way. Baritone Guy Withers plays the part of unscrupulous guesthouse owner Goran with tremendous stage presence, and the role of seemingly innocent tourist Phoebe is played by Laura Curry, whose huge and compelling voice totally fills the room.

The seven-piece instrumental ensemble bring vigour to composer Matthew Pearson's animated writing, and with a witty libretto penned by Harry Penfield, this is an ingeniously amusing and light-hearted take on contemporary opera.

It's a high standard –and really good fun.

Tonight and tomorrow, then August 22-25




CLUES that this was not your average pop show: a stall offering free #UNRAVEL Aberfeldy whisky; the presence of a robot-band; the involvement of Edinburgh pop visionaries FOUND.

#UNRAVEL is an interactive sound installation created by FOUND with Professor Simon Kirby and Aidan Moffat. For its debut live outing, the mood was dictated by Twitter reactions.

FOUND's live approach echoed their modus operandi: create brilliant, thought-provoking things, but make them user-friendly and fun. The evening was a celebration of the tension, and increasing symbiosis, between man and machine, and included terrific sets from frontman Ziggy (aka folk-seducer Lomond) Campbell, bandmate Kev Sim (aka techno-industrial punisher River of Slime), Papi Falso DJs, mesmerising visuals from Kirby and FOUND's Tommy Perman.

The #UNRAVEL set felt like an ingenious pop experiment. It appealed to our inner narcissist, as we tried to influence the songs and have our tweets appear on-stage. A tweet reading, "WHAT IS AN LP?", felt significant in this transient art context, while the sight of the five anthropoids behind #UNRAVEL crooning a finale captured the human essence of their sci-fi pop feat. They were smiling.