The Illegal Eagles – ‘The Classics’ Tour 2010 – 29 October

There are a whole host of tribute bands around these days, paying homage to a variety of artistes. One that I have heard good things about, The Illegal Eagles, visited Dunfermline’s Alhambra Theatre as part of there current tour, so keen to check them out I, along with around 500 others, turned out in good time to check them out for themselves.

Now where I have always liked the Eagles music, I cannot be described as a fanatic. I have several early albums, but they are not constantly played, yet the classics such as Hotel California, Lyin’ Eyes and the like are fairly regular radio fair, so it wasn’t like the music was going to be unfamiliar.

Sharp on opening time the five ‘Illegals’ hit the stage, which was ordained with a whole collection of guitars, mandolins, drums, and keyboards and started off the night with quality recreations of oh so many well tried an tested numbers for the first half lasting for an hour. They were so faithfully accurate in interpretation, if one closed one’s eyes you could image you were back in the 1970’s.

The ‘Illegal’s’ are Phil Aldridge, drums and vocals, Darin Murray, bass and vocals, Keith Atack, guitar, keyboards and vocals, Jeff Green, guitars and vocals and new boy Garreth Hicklin lead vocals, guitars, mandolin, drums and keyboards who is undoubtedly a real find for the band given his versatility and talent.

Following the interval Greatest Hits part two took place with hit after hit, classic after classic, even a couple of the ‘solo hits’ as well were presented to the adoring crowd. Seventy-five minutes in the second half was by no means enough for all, and of course an encore was the inevitable conclusion to the evening.

The Illegal Eagles have been together for 14 years, and they hope to continue for a while yet. To check out on their plans for the future why not check out their website www.illegaleagles.com . Also for future gigs at Dunfermline’s Alhambra Theatre their website can be found at www.alhambradunfermline.com

Stand Comedy Club – 26 October

It was a unusual event that occurred at the Stand last night. I, along with a hundred and twenty or so other souls, went to the Tuesday night gig to see the legendry Ed Byrne gracing the stage there. As part of his Warming up in the Cold: Ed in Scotland tour, which is in essence a warm-up tour for his next extravaganza that will be touring early next year Byrne was testing out the stuff, so as a work in progress, reviewers, such as I, were requested not to review it. Fair enough, so I won’t. What I will do instead instead is review his compere and opening act.

Compere for the night was a new name to me, Australian Matthew Hardy, but having done a bit of research, discovered he was a major player a number of years ago in the UK before returning to ‘home’. A native of Melbourne, Hardy was straight into his job, warming up the capacity crowd, not that they really needed it. He had a whole raft of different funny material that really hit home. The guy oozed professionalism aand I really hope he sticks  around after this tour, as I could certainly stand a full set from this very talented comedian. Having done his job in style he introduced the opening act, Nick Doody.

I had previously seen Doody doing his 2008 Edinburgh show Tour of Doody so was glad to be able to see him once again.

Like Hardy he was straight into his stuff, and first class comedy material it was too. Doody has stage presence a plenty and as befits a comedian of his quality, comedy timing pas excellance. He has the gift also for gathering his audience and seemingly taking then in one direction, only to do an about face and deliver them somewhere completely different. Belly laughs were forth coming throughout, as his well thought-out, written and delivered set seemed to strike the right chord with everyone. Booze,kids and his relationship were seemed to be the main inspiration of his all too short set, one which I for one would have been more than happy to have seen a lot more of, Roll on the next time.

Now as you know I’m not allowed to review Byrne’s show. But I can quote the compere Matt Hardy after Ed had delivered his set. ‘Well if that was warming up in the cold, I can’t wait to see it when it is hot’ I cannot comment, but he could well be right.

To see where Ed is taking this tour, also dates for the main tour next year check out his website www.edbyrne.com and for all the future Stand Comedy Club gigs in both Edinburgh and Glasgow then their web site is www.thestand.co.uk       

Marty Wilde’s ‘Born to Rock ‘n’ Roll’

It’s always good to see an act returning to play at a venue. And many do. Often. Marty Wilde is the latest to return to Dunfermline’s Alhambra after a short gap, well 51 years ago as a rock ’n’ roller barely in his twenties he played a three night season in the venue.

Wilde of today brought his  ‘Born to Rock ‘n’ Roll’ tour into town backed as always by The Wild Cats and with guest appearances from Eden Kane, Jet Harris and his youngest daughter Roxy Wilde.

The 500 strong audience were probably of a similar vintage to the stars, I don’t know about them being ‘A Teenager in Love’ perhaps a ‘Septuagenarian in Love’ may be more apt in most cases, but Wilde, and they had a great time from the off. He opened the gig himself giving one and all a selection of both his own material together with that of some of his contemporaries prior to introducing daughter Roxy to continue the 50’s & 60’s feel with her take on songs from twenty years before she was born. Like her older brother Ricky and sister Kim, Roxy has obviously inherited a large chunk of her parents singing talent, her mother was a Vernon Girl in case you were unaware and it was pleasing to see the family tradition was alive and well.

Back came Wilde with some further numbers before the next guest Eden Kane, a relative spring chicken at only 69, took over for a set including his biggest hits coupled with a selection of other songs of the time. Although I was aware of a couple of his hits, I was surprised that I knew so manyof the songs this California based performer was involved with.

After the break, the fare was similar, Marty belying his years and singing as well if not better than I remember, royally entertaining one and all, Roxy returned for a few numbers including a duet with her father, before the diminutive form of Jet Harris took to the stage armed with a guitar nearly as big as him. Harris of course was once bassist with the Shadows and of course had a number of hit singles with another former Shad Tony Meehan. Now on lead guitar Harris played a selection of numbers from his repertoire with the Shadows and his own stuff, even finding time to play a tribute to Duane Eddy also.

A few more songs then followed from Mr Wilde, including a return of Eden Kane and Roxy for a further couple of numbers, including a tribute to Elvis.

After a shade over two hours 15 Marty drew the evening to a conclusion, but of course there was an encore with all performers from an excellent evenings entertainment involved.

I knew I would probably like this show, but I have it admit it totally exceeded my expectations. Everybody involved from the excellent sound and lighting engineers to the very talented Wild Cats, from the guests to the main man exuded professionalism and I can only hope to be in as good a shape as them when I reach their age, err that’s not including Roxy whose age I passed a while ago.

To see if this show is touring near you check out www.martywilde.com and for all future gigs at The Alhambra Theatre Dunfermline check out www.alhambradunfermline.com

Red Raw -18 October – Stand Comedy Club Edinburgh

It was a cold Monday evening, mid October, snow forecast overnight for the area and yet in excess of 100 hardy souls packed into the Stand Comedy Club Edinburgh for their seemingly very popular Red Raw night.

What made them do it? Well there were eleven, yes 11, acts scheduled to appear and of course a compere. Some acts were brand new, some slightly experienced plus one or two established names who were trying out brand new material, including emerging superstar in the making Daniel Sloss who himself was trying new stuff.

Another contributing factor could have been that all this was on offer for a paltry £2-00 and even more so if you were a student or a club member where admission was £1-00.

Compere for the night was Stand favourite Sian Bevan who had he job of warming up the crowd, setting the scene and describing the format to a bunch of first timers who had joined us more seasoned regulars, and identifying potential sources for those following to react with. Sian is always a smiley, bubbly fun act and this was evident again tonight in a role that really suited her personality.

The slightly dead-pan James Kirk had the task of being the opening act. He had stage presence and a well put together set . Okay he didn’t have long but I got the feeling he could easily cope with a longer set based on what we saw.

Fifer Derek Baillie followed Kirk. Now I have a feeling i have seen this guy on YouTube when part of his act was filmed during the Kirkcaldy Comedy Festival, as some of the set rang a bell. His material was not ground breaking, but he told jokes, funny jokes and plenty of them. Assuming he has more in his locker, and I’ve no reason to doubt that he has, I really look forward to seeing him perform a longer set next time.

Former RSAMD student Ronnie Gordon was act three. Utilising the performing skills honed at that institution, Gordon played the crowd well . topics such a sex, football and one-upmanship , all delivered in a slightly self-deprecating style meant that he had made full use of his time.

Stand regular Joe Heenan was the next in line and he was there to try out a selection of his new material. Joe is always good value for money. It was a pleasant change to see him as an ‘act’ as it seems he is nearly always the compere when I’ve previously seen him. Although he was working with new stories his stage presence was as assured as always, and he seemed to be genuinely enjoying himself. As were the crowd and his set all too short for everyone.

The closing act of part one was Wolverhampton’s Paul Savage. He initially started by talking down his hometown but ventured into a variety of other stuff. I particularly liked take on sign language and Irish karaoke and could have heard more.

Act two opened with Ms Bevan again bringing the temperature of the gig up a notch or two. Her play with the crowd was impressive again and then she unleashed David Reilly. This Southern Ireland lad spent a good deal of his set on the unlikely topic of ‘Power Rangers.’ Who knew there was so much material to be had with them? Reilly obviously, and now we all do as well. It was a different but entertaining few minutes.

Des O’Gorman was next and another Irishman but this time from the north. O’Gorman is a trainee actor with a somewhat Harry Potter look. He is a major Dr Who fan and expounded on it to great effect. I was impressed with his ‘voice over man’ section the most.

Hard on his heels was James Stewart. This physicist turned actor expounded about his beard, beards in general and going to the cinema solo in a self-deprecating, yet occasionally boastful way. He was full of confidence and reasonably funny, although I feel stronger material would help. One to check out again though.

Number nine on the list didn’t appear, so it was onto the penultimate act Richard Massara. This tall Englishman, another  actor started a little slowly, but when he got going boy did he fly. He had presence to spare and some wicked material. He really picked the gig up by the scruff of it’s neck, gave it a good shaking and I certainly was not alone in wanting to hear more. I’ll definitely look out for him again. I believe he has ‘it’ and could well go right to the top.

The final interval and prize draw by Sian led to the arrival of headliner Daniel Sloss. Fresh from a sell-out Fringe show, a sit-com pilot and an appearance on Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow, young Mr Sloss, he’s only just 20, proceeded to entertain for his 20 minutes plus with some new to us all material that he was trying out. There is certainly some quality ideas in there, okay a couple that may need some work, but it is obvious that the well of his creativity is still working… and how!! It has been interesting to see the growth of the lad over the couple of years or so since I first saw him. He is now a confident, well prepared and commanding figure on stage, and his material gets better and better. Surely superstardom is just round the corner and judging by his growing fanbase for most it can’t come soon enough.

But all good things come to an end and it did. If there is a better value show around then I’m struggling to know where to find it, but I will certainly find my way back to the Stand very soon for some more. Check out all their gigs, both in Edinburgh or in Glasgow at their website www.thestand.co.uk  for details.

Reviewed by Geoff

High School Rocks!

With the plethora of shows and movies such as High School Musical I,II & III and Camp Rock, TV’s offering such as Hannah Montana and the now all consuming Glee, I suppose it was inevitable that a show like this came about, High School Rock! Is a montage, perhaps an homage to the genre, but definitely a vehicle that is cashing in on the popularity of this type of entertainment.

On a Sunday afternoon in Dunfermline’s Alhambra Theatre the cast of nine enthusiastic performers took to the stage with an auditorium populated with predominately pre teen girls and proceeded to give their take on numbers drawn form a selection of those shows already mentioned.

The five guys four girl format tried hard to get their own enthusiasm to inspire the audience, unfortunately not very successfully, as they sang, danced and, was there even some lip-synching too?, through the first half. Now I must hold my hand up as I have not really seen much, if any, of the source material this was drawn from, but I recognised very little and found the interpretation somewhat stylised. I felt the sound was not good and some vocals uninspiring.

The second half, was much of the same, but getting the kids on stage to involve them? I only thought this happened in Panto!! On no it didn’t, trust me, six competed in a mini-basket tournament!! Well it was different I suppose.

The finale was really the only section that got the audience on their feet and that was their ‘Glee’ segment. At least with this I recognised some of the music. The kids loved this part, and I must admit I enjoyed this section more than anything else too.

I have to say that when some companies take numbers from show I am unaware of it can inspire me to investigate these productions further. I must admit I am not inspired to do so this time.

I know I am not the demographic the show is aimed at, but I didn’t feel they really reached the one they were aiming at either. There are quite a number of amateur companies in the West Fife area alone that regularly turn out more value for money and professional performances than was delivered today.

This was just one of t he variety of shows on offer at The Alhambra Theatre Dunfermline are offering over the next few months. To check out their line-up go to www.alhambradunfermline.com

Ross Noble – Non-Sensory Overload

Okay, let’s get the confession out of the way up front. I am a huge fan of Ross Noble, having seen him numerous times over the last ten years and own virtually all of his DVD’s, not to mention always trying he watch his numerous appearances on television.

It has been a couple of years since I last saw him, so was delighted to see this genial Geordie was back on tour with his new show entitled Non-Sensory Overload, and he was coming to my local theatre The Alhambra Dunfermline.

As usual, Noble tours with an extravagant set, each one more exacting and intricate than the previous tour and this version is colourful to the extreme. Noble dressed in black soon appears and although obviously suffering from a bad throat swiftly settles into his routine. Well I say routine, I’ve never seen him do much other that riff off audience suggestions and let his own random thoughts take over as he regales the 800 or so crowd with his humour, usually slightly out there and surreal, but absolutely compulsive.

He has the reputation of starting off trains of thought, or starting stories, and getting sidetracked and not finishing them for absolute ages, but usually remembering to get there and this was much in evidence again throughout the marathon gig for most comedians, but a normal timescale one for Noble.

As usual too was the wide variety of subjects that he chose to run with. Bingo playing nanna’s, guinea pig hunting hicks, an audience sexy dream involving him, remote control toy helicopters, Avatar, shaved bats were just a selection of the unlikely subjects that captured his imagination on the night.

It has become somewhat of a tradition for him to be left ‘gifts’ on the stage during the interval and true to form Dunfermline came up trumps with a selection of strange objects, again giving him scope to exhibit his improvisional talents.

Noble has a hoard of dedicated fans who will always turn out to worship at his feet, and they were there as always lapping up the fare. If you are a fan, or if you fancy seeing him for the first time then check out his website www.rossnoble.co.uk for the list of dates on his current tour.

The Alhambra Theatre Dunfermline has a wide variety of excellent shows planned for the next few months so to check out the shows on offer check out www.alhambradunfermline.com for details.

Dracula Adapted by Liz Lochhead Sell A Door Theatre Company

Take one of the most often told tales in modern times, adapted by one of the best Scottish playwrights and staged by one of the better up-and-coming young theatre companies and you’d be in line for a cracking night out at the theatre right? Right. You certainly would be.

As part of their pre-London tour Sell A Door Theatre Company are travelling the length of the country staging this classy production and I am so glad I managed to catch up with it at Dunfermline’s Alhambra Theatre this week.

Dracula, an adaptation of the Bram Stoker novel by Ms Lochhead, is set in 1893 and the action takes place in Whitby, Hungary and London with young solicitor Jonathan Harker journeying to meet the Count to do what he thinks is some routine business, but of course he is mistaken. The vampire has designs on Harker’s young heiress wife Mina and her sister Lucy, but can Harker ably assisted by his friend Arthur Seward and Van Hesling stop the Count before he unleashes his terror on one and all.

This is a really well written play, very different from many of the interpretations I have previously seen of the Stoker classic and the production is compelling. Each of the nine actors play their roles with feeling and style creating a true ensemble feel to the piece, but I feel the undoubted highlights are in the design and direction of the production. Director – Producer David Hutchinson has utilised some first-class devises and effects throughout the two hours and this coupled with a simple, yet worthy set design left many in the audience in awe at the end product created in conjunction with designer Adrian Gee. The whole performance was underscored with atmospheric music composed by David Ben Shannon.

Cast:-

Jonathan Harker- Matthew Grace

Mina Westerman- Laura Blackmore

Lucy Westerman- Daisy Burns

Arthur Seward- Ellis J Wells

Dracula- Louis J Parker

Van Hessling- Alexander Pritchett

Florrie Heathersage- Sophie Holland

Mrs Manners- Louise Ann Munro

Renfield- Kieran Hennigan

With the recession biting I suppose it is enviable that some productions are drawing smaller audiences than before and it was a shame for all involved that there were not more at this performance to witness what was in truth a fine evening at the theatre.

You still have a chance to catch them at the rest of their tour before going into London for a season and these dates can be found at their website www.selladoor.com