Back for Good – Recreating the magic of ‘Take That’

I have to admit that I do not count myself as a Take That fan. I do like the occasional song, but I do not get the phenomenal support this band have maintained over the years, and a support that is still very evident today.

Back for Good is a tribute show to the fabulous four, yes Robbie is still missing from the tribute boy band, but the music from all eras of Take That are faithfully covered by Daniel Paul Maines as Gary, Matthew Hall as Mark, Joe Currey as Jason and Daniel John Claxton as Howard.

The dance routines are well staged and with the four sexy female backing dancers add colour and movement to enhance the more than competent vocal performances. The show is well directed, nicely lit and the sound crystal clear. There are also a couple of brief appearances from the local ‘Limelight’ choir to support on backing vocals too.

There are a whole host of Take That classic numbers including ‘It Only Takes a Minute’, ‘Babe’, ‘Patience’, ‘A Million Love Songs’, ‘Never Forget’, ‘Everything Changes’, ‘Pray’, ‘Relight My Fire’ are only a few of the highlights for the predominately female audience at the Alhambra.

It is almost impossible to get tickets to see the real Take That’ given the melt down that occurred when their latest tickets went on sale recently, so if you were unable to obtain any, or if you were lucky enough to get some and just want a taster of the next summers extravaganza, why not take the chance to see this tribute act.

The show is always touring it seems and you can check out their future dates on line on their website www.backforgoodshow.com For the latest line up of forthcoming shows at The Alhambra Theatre their website is www.alhambradunfermline.com

 Reviewed by Geoff

Stand Comedy Club 25 November 2010

It was the night that the Christmas lights were turned on in ‘The Athens of the North’ and to say the weather was cold would have been an understatement. However, I was as warm as anything, sitting in The Stand comedy Club, basking in the heat of the red-hot comedy that flowed from the stage engulfing the packed out crowd.

Compere for the night was the bubbly and ebullient Susan Calman. Now I have seen he in this role on numerous occasions over the last few years, and she is always good, usually she’s great, but for this performance she was on fire. Susan as usual is a master at gently cajoling information from the audience, prizing information, opening prize gems from the crowd, setting them up for further investigation. Whether it was luck or good design by the Stand management, but maybe it was fortunate that there were two firemen on the front roll to keep things under control.

The opening act was a young Irish lad from Cork by name of Chris Kent. This was the first time I have come across this very funny chap but I certainly hope it will not be the last. Chris is a one-time electrician, and I can confirm that he is a bit of a bit of a bright spark as a comedian too. He was straight into his set of very funny, often self-deprecating in style, material delivered with buckets of confidence and has stage presence a plenty. In very short order he was drawing peels of laughter from all corners of the club. I will certainly look for him performing again and I’m sure he is yet another on the Eire conveyor belt of talent following on from the likes of Ed Byrne, Jason Byrne, Andrew Maxwell and Neil Delamere to name but a few.

Following the first interval and a further demonstration from Ms Calman as to her comedy prowess the larger than life Rick Molland bounded onto the stage. Lancastrian by birth but now Edinburgh resident Molland certainly had plenty of stage presence and his style of ‘lefty’ comedy was retro in some respects but bang up to date in content. It is fair to say that Rick has strong opinions on certain subjects and spits bile at targets, Jim Davidson, his fans and Maggie Thatcher are worthy recipients of his scorn but the BNP were the main focus of his diatribe. I think it would be fair to say he may not be for everyone, however those who got him seemed to lap it up. I’d like to see him again before I formed a full opinion, but I would certainly be prepared to see more.

Closing the second part was as Aberdonian Gus Tawse. It had been quite a while since I had seen him and have to say I was very impressed with the set he delivered. Tawse has no histrionics in his delivery, rather the reverse, what he does deliver is a very funny, well written, observed and delivered set peppered with plenty of laugh out loud moments. His subject material is varied including PC gone mad, his grandfather, a difficult childhood and of course a bit about his hometown. Tawse was on the button throughout, and had the entire crowd with him too. Here’s to the next time.

Following the second interval and prize draw the comedy typhoon that is Phil Nichol took to the stage and blew the audience to smithereens. The man is pure mania; he must expend enough energy in his twenty minutes or so to power a small town for a week. Okay most of the set I had heard before, yet it always seems fresh in the approach. Nichol is as well as an extremely funny guy also is a mean guitar player and a really good vocalist, so uses these abilities to enhance his performance. He captivated the crowd from the outset and never let them go throughout. He honed in on an unfortunate guy in the front row, Kevin, who found himself more involved in the performance than maybe he would have wished, but never in a nasty way. Nichol is Nichol. And it would be fair to say that he is as entertaining as he was on this night every time I have seen him and that must be at least in double figures now. Go see him yourselves and be prepared to be blown away.

The Stand delivers quality comedy virtually every night of the year both in Edinburgh and in Glasgow so to check out what is on offer why not visit their website www.thestand.co.uk for detail

Steve Steinman’s Vampires Rock

There is nothing like a good-time musical theatre show to get the chill November blues out of your soul, so it was with great anticipation I, along with the excess of six hundred like minded folk, headed for the Alhambra Theatre Dunfermline where this almost non-stop touring show touched down for a return visit.

Writer / Director / Producer / Star Steve Steinman is the driving force behind this show since he created it in 2004 and it has grown a massive cult following with some audience members attending in costume. It was however my first time so knew little of what to expect.

Set in the year 2030, in the club of the evil Baron Von Rockula, Steinman, is in search of a bride and hopes to achieve his aim while auditioning for a new rock singer for his club. Enter the naive Pandora Rosie Box, a Cliff Richard geek who really has no idea what she is walking into, but with the help of the uber talented band The Lost Boys, her inner rock chick quickly emerges. Emily Clark portrays Pandora and my God what a voice this lady has!!

The comedy character janitor, at times seems to be a cross between Igor and Rocky Horror’s Riff Raff, but certainly injects humour into the proceedings, and can sing more than a bit too.

The plot is fairly minimal, but who cares, it is funny; non-offensive for any age and let’s be honest the music selected is the main reason for most to be there anyway.  

Any show that kicks off with ‘Welcome to The Jungle’, progresses into Highway to Hell, continues with ‘Killer Queen’, ‘Sympathy for the Devil’, ‘Total Eclipse of The Heart’ and ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ all before the interval cannot be bad as far as I, and nearly everyone else was concerned.

The rock didn’t stop there either, the second half was peppered with classics too, the very balcony of The Alhambra was shaking during the interpretation of ‘Jump’ and the sea of clapping hands during ‘We Will Rock You’ would have done justice to a Queen crowd.

The set was well designed, a huge skull with bat wings dominating, the lighting plot well delivered and the sound absolutely pin sharp. The direction was well drilled too, thrown into the mix were a couple of scantily clad female vampires and a few theatrical devices also slipped in to give this production even more gloss. The faithful recreation of rock classics however made it for me though, as the musicians and vocal performances were tremendous.

All in all a quality evening’s entertainment, and I certainly hope it continues to tour. I will be back, you can bet on it.

To find out future dates when it may be in your area check out their website www.vampiresrock.com and for the diverse variety of entertainment programmed by the Alhambra Dunfermline all is listed on their site www.alhambradunfermline.com

Kim Shepherd January 22 2011 Alhambra Theatre Dunfermline

Not a review for once, but a recommendation. A very talented lady surely destined for the very top. Grab you chance to see her now.

****Unfortunately this gig has now been cancelled***

Mark Watson – Do I Know You? 12 November

Although I have been aware of Mark Watson for a number of years now and have seen him do a couple of ‘guest spots’ so on Friday 12 November at Dunfermline’s Alhambra Theatre this was the first time I had seen a full length show, and no it wasn’t one of his full length 24 hr marathons that at one time he was synonymous for, just an hour 50 or so as part of his latest tour.

Some comics make a grand entrance, but then Watson is not some comics. Unobtrusively I became aware that something was happening, there was typing being screened on stage and it was him, sitting quietly at the back of the stage typing funny comments on his laptop, certainly a different way of doing a warm-up.

In spite of, or maybe because of, a whole host of late comers interrupting proceedings, Watson started his show by being a little all over the place. That’s not saying he wasn’t funny, he just seemed rather distracted, starting stories, or opening windows as he described it, parking them, going elsewhere before returning to his original ideas.

The concept behind the title of his show is that he is nearly well known, TV appearances and advert campaigns he has featured in have led to him being ‘sort of’ recognised by taxi drivers and the like, yet he is not a household name like Derren Brown and Obama, two people he holds in high esteem.

For someone who is really a big name in the comedy world at least Watson is very self-effacing, often self deprecating, almost as he doesn’t really understand why he is as popular as he is. His many die hard fans in the 500 or so audience were with him through out, and I imagine he gained quite a few more over the course of the show. He is a very pleasant guy, as I observed after the show, always happy to talk to his fans and pose for photos too.

Watson is in the middle of his tour currently and the future dates can be found on his website www.markwatsonthecomedian.com For future gigs at The Alhambra check out their website www.alhambraddunfermline.com 

Reviewed by Geoff

Stand Comedy Club – 11 November

Where to go for a good night out on a Thursday in November, location Edinburgh? This is a no brainer really. The Stand Comedy Club in York Place has everything you would want. Friendly staff, good choice of beer and wine, quality home cooked food and a comedy bill on offer that is second to none.

Our host for the night was the ebullient Susan Morrison, one of the many top class comperes this club is blessed with. Susan was straight into her role, her normal hundred miles an hour style of delivery packing the time available to her with a whole host of gags, stories and garnering information from the packed out audience to use as call backs later for both herself and the others that followed.

Having warmed up one and all, and getting the chuckle muscles toned, she introduced the opening act Edinburgh based Fifer Derek Johnston. It has been quite a while since I have seen this personable young chap perform and it was good to catch up with him again.

After a gentle start, with a little muted response from the crowd, Derek swiftly got into his stride and as his momentum built so did the laughter. Johnston is not a confrontational comedian, anything but, but this in no way detracts from his ability. Certainly by the end of his set virtually everyone wanted more.

Following the first interval, the first of two acts took the mic, and for the ‘short’ set it was Gus Lymburn. Although he has been around on the comedy circuit for quite a while this was the first chance I had had to see him I action for myself. I have to say I can understand why he has acquired a good reputation. Slightly more dramatic in style than Johnston, Gus was endearing himself to most, maybe not the Geordies up front, but they took it in good part, with a set packed through out with very funny material. I certainly look forward to seeing him again, this time with a longer set hopefully.

Closing the second section was Scottish comedy legend Parrot. This chap has been on the comedy scene for absolutely ages, although until recently his profile seemed to be somewhat lower. This is the third time I have seen him this year and he keeps getting better as far as I am concerned. 

He certainly has stage presence in abundance, and a whole raft of funny material, often self deprecating, but this performance seemed to capture the imagination of the crowd and they were more than happy to go along with him for the duration of his set.

Following the second interval and prize draw Ms Morrison introduced our headliner Carey Marx. Now I have been a huge fan of his for a number of years now and make no secret of it. He is well respected in the business too, so I really cannot understand why he is not a mega star. Perhaps his choice of material may alienate him from some, but it is so well written, bitingly funny and superbly delivered, I don’t think I could ever take offence at his stuff. I was impressed with the whole set, his brand new material standing up well against his slightly better known, to me anyway, classics. The two friends I had with me on the night, had never previously seen him were well impressed, as was virtually the entire crowd. Part of his charm is his wicked grin that often accompanies his darker stuff, an expression that gets wider the better he goes down. And this was very evident on the night.

In these days of doom and gloom, recession and the impending festive season value for money is an essential. So with shows such as these of offer what better value could a comedy fan get?

To check out the future programme for both the Edinburgh and Glasgow venues go to their website at www.thestand.co.uk for details.

Reviewed by Geoff

Jason Cook – The End (Part One) Stand Comedy Club

I had occasionally wondered if it was worth watching ‘the same show again’, especially as I had only seen it as late as August, barely three months ago. But I knew on this occasion at least it would be worthwhile when the comedian in question was gregarious Geordie Jason Cook. Why? Well he has an innate ability to riff with the audience so that each show is different, and during the Fringe his show was restricted to an hour, and the offering at The Stand was going to be at least twice as long.

So along with eighty plus others I eagerly took my place long before the start on a cold Sunday night in November. Cold it may have been outside but the temperature was red hot once Mr Cook hit the stage.

The essence of the two hours was that he would warm up the audience briefly, do the first half of his Edinburgh show, an interval and then the concluding portion, but Cook being Cook, and the enjoyment he seemed to be getting from the crowds reaction, the ad-libs, banter and riffing took him to a whole load of places he didn’t expect to go.

He does talk quickly, well he has to, to pack in all his material, and it is all top notch stuff as well. He can always find an anecdote or ad-lib from whatever treasure he uncovers and often he is the butt of his own stories.

The story behind the title of his show is that before Christmas 2009 he thought he had breathed his last, and when he fortunately found he hadn’t then he resolved to change his life somewhat for the better. It is the lead-up to and the immediate aftermath of the event that is his mainstay.

I was fairly late in catching on to this exceptionally funny chap, others within my team were far more astute than I in recognising his comedy genius. I hate the term as it is so often over used, but in his case it is truly appropriate, in fact I don’t think another word could describe his performances. I am not alone; I spoke to a number of people at the interval and after the show concurred 100% with my opinion which was gratifying.

As his name could imply, he take the best of ingredients in his material, mixes them the spice of his humour, simmers for two hours and ends up serving up a feast of regal proportions for one and all. A recipe for a great night out This cook certainly deserves more than a few Michelin stars to add to his name.

So do yourselves a favour, check out his website  www.jasonlovescomedy.com to see where he is playing near you, then do everything you can to get a ticket. You would be a fool to yourself if you did.

For future dates at The Stand Comedy Club, both in Edinburgh and Glasgow, then check out their website www.thestand.co.uk and hopefully I’ll see you there.

Reviewed by Geoff

Ol’ Blue Eyes and Friends – Live on TV

 

The World Premier of a new musical show is always an event for those who are fans of this genre and thaAlhambra Theatre Dunfermline is the place to check one out this week.

The show, set in the late fifties, is in a TV studio and the audience are there to witness a TV spectacular hosted by ‘Ol’ Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra, as he sings classics of the time and introduces three of his friends Gene Kelly, Doris Day and Judy Garland, who also perform some of there best loved numbers.

The storyline is simple, basically there is nothing more complex than Frank fronting the show, the lib is minimal, but where the magic is created is the four stars, Stephen Triffitt as Frank, Darren Bennett, no not the ‘Strictly’ dancer but the actor, as Kelly, Miranda Wilford as Doris aand Adrienne Stiefel as Garland doing the classic numbers such as Luck be a Lady, Mack the Knife, Secret Love, Singing in the Rain, Somewhere Over the Rainbow… the list just goes on and on, and they are superbly backed by a very tight band under the direction of MD Andy Rumble.

Comedy sketches, non-PC adverts are included and backing vocals are supplied by an ensemble of Alan Birkett, Kelsey Cobbam and Andrea Lynette Young who flit in and out throughout the two hour spectacular.

The set is simple and yet well designed, the lighting plot effective and director and choreographer Bill Deamer moves the cast around with consumate ease. The slight quibble I had was that given the sightlines at the Alhambra and the speaker stacks on the stage apron, if the action was taking place towards the back corners occassionally this was unable to be seen by the audience slightly away from the centre of the theatre.

This is a show that will undoubtedly go down well with ‘those of a certain age’ who can remember the songs first time around, but given the timeless classics on offer perhaps a younger element could be encouraged to attend as well.

I do however have a major gripe with the show and one that I feel detracted hugely from my total enjoyment. Given that the piece is set in the fifties why did they opt to have as an encore Triffitt singing ‘My Way’? Yes he sang it superbly, and it is a classic Sinatra number, but the song was written in 1968 around ten years after the period we had been transported back to. Maybe it was just me but I felt it was unneccessary and should be taken out.

You still have a chance to catch this show as it has performances still to play on Saturday 6 November at 2-30 and at 7-30, check ot the Alhambra theatre website www.alhambradunfermline.com for details, and for their whole host of forthcoming shows over the next few months.

Wicked Wenches – Stand Comedy Club – 2 November

With the clocks going back last weekend, the weather cold, windy and damp it should have been a pretty bleak November evening in Edinburgh shouldn’t it? Well maybe in some parts, but it was anything but at The Stand Comedy Club where a selection of some of the finest female comedy talent in Scotland, plus a visiting English one served up an evening of red hot comedy to warm the cockles of any heart.

MC as usual for the Wicked Wenches gig was Glaswegian Susan Calman. I don’t think there has been an occasion we I have attended this all female gig that she hasn’t been at the helm. As one could expect Susan did her job with style and as only she can, warming up the crowd, telling funny stories and eliciting information from the crowd for call-backs, both for herself and for those to follow. A really funny a professional performance from this once corporate lawyer.

The opening act was Glasgow based, but of Irish heritage, Elaine Malcolmson. It has been a while since I have seen her perform and she was every bit as good as I remembered. Elaine always plays it very dead pan, almost as if she vulnerable or lacking in confidence but then comes out with some wicked material, virtually all of which was new to me anyway. It took me a couple of times to really ‘get’ her style, but now that I have I am hooked.

The first interval followed, then Ms Calman, who really seemed to be enjoying herself on the night returned with a few minutes of material before introducing Dee Custance. Although this English girl is locally based these days I have only seen her one before some years ago, so it was a novel experience, especially as she hit the stage with a ukulele. She proceeded to serenade the audience with three quirky self-penned songs interspersed with a little of her comedy material. I really liked some of her set; parts however were a little surreal for me though. However she has load of potential and I look forward to seeing her again.

The visiting Bethany Black. Ms Black, the only time I had previously seen her perform was again at The Stand back in March, was certainly up for it and entertained for the duration of her set.  Self billed as UK’s foremost Goth, lesbian, post-op transsexual stand-up Bethany has a different style of set than what preceded her. A native of Chorley, now Manchester based has an interesting and funny material about her hometown and her current abode, feral children, Goths and Chavs,fetish gigs and practices, her father and computers not to mention a romantic story or two. In feel she made a number of new fans on the night and deservedly so too.

Following the second interval and prize draw headline act Janey Godley took to the stage and just raised the bar even higher than it already was at.

Every time I see this extremely talented and funny Glasgow comic she just gets better and better. Not only is she an extremely funny, well observed and well prepared comedian, but she has a gift with words that leaves me awestruck. Some comedians use slide presentations and the like to illustrate their performances, Ms Godley has no need of such devices, she has words descriptive and powerful enough to conjure up images that are as clear as the best of pictures. There is only one trouble with her sets; they are just not long enough. It seems that she has barely started and already she has overrun. Yet thinking back and the number of laughs she has drawn, no one could ever complain of being shortchanged. I can’t wait to see her again.

The Stand has quality comedy such as tonight virtually every night of the year and you can check out the forthcoming gigs both in Edinburgh and Glasgow check out their website www.thestand.co.uk