Jason Manford

Although Jason Manford has been doing stand up for ten years now, and I go to a lot of comedy shows, this was the first time I had seen him live. The one time the company has reviewed him in the Fringe back in 2007, Di from our team was the reviewer.

As part of his virtually sold out tour Manford was playing his second sell-out gig at the massive Alhambra Theatre Dunfermline such is his popularity. Not only is he a very funny guy, his profile from TV appearances such as Eight Out of Ten Cats and now as presenter of The One Show on the BBC certainly drew in all ages and in vast numbers.

Manford took to the stage for the first ‘half’ of his gig to rapturous applause and gently at first began his set, He talks to the audience quite a lot soliciting opinions on numerous subjects, generally drawing funny material from the conversations, but has a whole host of his stories and gags to intersperse the riffing. Having nicely warmed up the crowd, and been plagued by the audience bladder control issues a break ensued for some to top up the drink levels or stretch there legs.

The second half was announced as lasting for 50 minutes, in fact it lasted virtually double that. There seemed to be a little more pace about part two. He was funny enough in the first segment, but came out all guns blazing with some really well written, well crafted funny material. Manford can not, on this evidence anyway, ever be accused as a ‘potty mouth’ comedian, okay there are an odd few expletives that do come from him, but this is the exception rather than the rule. Perhaps that was part of his appeal to some. That doesn’t mean he cannot drawn huge laughs, he can, in abundance.

With the time nearing 11-00pm his somewhat unusual ending of a question and answer session seemed a slightly low key way to finish, but it was a gentle warm down for the exertions of the previous 2 hours 40 minutes. Certainly no one could feel short changed with his gig.

And even after his exertions, he was happy enough to pose for photographs with his fans on the way out. Another example of what a genuinely nice guy he is.

As earlier mentioned his tour is virtually sold out, but it is still worth checking out if there are any tickets left at a venue near you. See his website www.jasonmanford,com for details and for future shows at Dunfermline’s Alhambra then check out www.alhambradunfermline.com

Carmen: – Scottish Opera

For the first time in my numerous years last night I spent a night at the opera, no not The Marx Brothers movie, or the Queen album, the real McCoy, when Scottish Opera’s touring version of Carmen hit town in Dunfermline’s Alhambra Theatre as part of their national tour.

Carmen was originally staged in 1875 when Georges Bizet’s production was premiered in Paris and after an initial reticence on the public’s behalf it has grown into one of the world’s favourite opera’s.

Rather than the original 1800’s, this new production has been set in 1960’s Spain, a country domineered by the extremely right wing General Franco’s dictatorship, a regime where women are oppressed, the populous suffering extreme poverty, smuggling and black-market activities commonplace and gypsies forced to live in ghetto’s.

The time is apt for a feisty beautiful woman to try to escape and the eponymous character uses her wiles on soldier Don Jose to further her aims. His infatuation leads to his forsaking friends, career and principles and him becoming a smuggler in the distant mountains. But is this true love or are there twists? I’ll leave you to find out by attending.

The necessity of this production to adapt to various sized venues left the set looking a little lost on the vast Alhambra stage, and although well designed I felt the production was a little dark, both in lighting and costumes.

The cast of ten played all roles well within their ability, but the fact that the singers were un-miked and the size of the theatre occasionally made the vocals difficult to hear over an excellent orchestra under the baton of Derek Clark. There are some excellent tunes in the production many will be familiar to even  non-opera regulars like me and as I first experience of opera it was an enjoyable one. I don’t think I would ever become a regular in this medium, but I can see why others might.

Scottish Opera are taking this production on tour so if you fancy seeing where it is playing near you check out www.scottishopera.co.uk and for the varied programme that is available at Alhambra Theatre Dunfermline see www.alhambradunfermline.com

 Reviewed by Geoff

Danny Bhoy – By Royal Disappointment

Was it really ten years ago that I first saw Danny Bhoy? It doesn’t seem that long ago, but history tells me that it was. He was then an up-and-coming comic performing at the Fringe as compere of The Comedy Zone. He excelled as the compere on that night and has never failed to entertain with style on the dozen or so times I have seen him over the past decade.

As always a widely touring comic, Bhoy played Dunfermline’s prestigious Alhambra Theatre as part of the British leg of his latest tour and around five hundred punters turned up to see this very personable Scottish comic.

Unassuming, he ambles onto stage and launches into his show, one that sold out virtually every night for 26 dates in the recent Edinburgh Fringe, with over a thousand seats going each night, and gradually the pace and the laughter built throughout his 90 minutes.

Danny is not a comedian who tells jokes, he is more a chap who tells funny stories, mostly things that have occurred in his life. He is engaging and empathetic most of the time, not in anyway confrontational. Yes he talks to his audience, of course he does, but his style is friendly,

I think it would be fair to say that the content of his set has no underlying message, his stuff is just funny, his delivers it with charm, something that he has in bucket loads and often he is the butt of his own stories, with occasionally a cringworthy, embarrassing conclusion. But doesn’t that make him even more likeable? Certainly for me it does.

As mentioned this was part of his on going tour the further dates can be found at www.dannybhoy.com and for future gigs at The Alhambra check out www.alhambradunfermline.com

Reviewed by Geoff

Steve Earle

As the first post-Fringe excursion for one4 review it was another visit to Dunfermline’s premier entertainment venue The Alhambra Theatre , where along with the excess of 700 others I was there to see country-rock legend Steve Earle.

But first there was the support act of Dave Arcari, who I have to confess I haven’t heard of before. Arcari is a Glasgow singer songwriter, replete with a gravelly voice, and a mean style of guitar playing that is an amalgam of styles, country, punk and rockabilly fused with delta blues, he performed mostly self penned material for his allotted 30 minutes or so. Just him his voice and his axe could have been dwarfed by the massive performance space, but his presence was large enough to cope.

He is about to release his fifth album and commence  a UK tour in October playing in good sized venues so it is obvious that he has a fair following both in the UK and also in Europe. At least a few hundred other people are now aware of him following this gig. His material was well received by most and his applause was significant at the end of his set.

After a brief change over and recharging of glasses, Earle took to the stage with his guitars, mandolin, a multitude of harmonicas and proceeded to play to the die-hard fans for nearly two hours without a break.

Back in the annuls of time I bought Earle’s album Copperhead Road, but it hadn’t seen the light of day for probably fifteen years, so you could hardly call me a regular fan. This album had him backed by the Dukes his backing band at the time and I initially wondered how good these tracks would sound as acoustic numbers, but I need not have worried. They worked so well, almost better than the originals.

Much married, I believe he is on wife number seven, and a once hardened drinker and substance abuser, Earle now has a easy going manner that captivates the audience. Playing a mixture of well know material, even I recognised a fair number of his songs, and a selection of lesser know stuff too, but no matter, the guy can sell a song and was thoroughly entertaining throughout his entire set.

He is quite opinionated on some political issues and is totally unafraid to share his thoughts with all, most of which seemed to be those with which the audience concurred. His is witty and erudite in his chat, although given his ‘deep south’ accent one does have to listen carefully.

The two our set went very quickly, but was no where long enough for the staunch fans, I’m sure they would have stayed and listened all night.

This was the first of the many planned visits to Dunfermline’s Alhambra and to check out what’s for what’s available in the future check out the website http://www.alhambradunfermline.com

 Reviewed by Geoff

Post Fringe Blues?

Well the Fringe is over for another year and Edinburgh starts to return to normal for a few months at least.

But does that mean one4review goes into hibernation until August 2011?

Hell no!!

Although it won’t be as intense there are numerous planned visits to regular haunts such as The Stand Comedy Club and The Alhambra Theatre Dunfermline over the next few weeks to keep my mind occupied and these visits will be recorded on this site.

Please check back from time to time to see my thoughts on these productions and gigs and feel free to make any comments you may have.

Geoff Evans

Proprietor one4review