KT Tunstall 23 February Alhambra Dunfermline

Now if the truth is know I have liked the music of Fife’s favourite female singer songwriter since I first became aware of her debut album Eye to the Telescope back in 2005, a year after it’s release.The follow-up studio album Drastic Fantastic and the perhaps slightly lesser known Acoustic Extravaganza reinforced my opinion that she was certainly to my taste. I managed to catch her at Dunfermlines’ Alhambra in July 2008 and the final piece of the jigsaw fitted neatly into place.
Then suddenly she seemed to fade off the scene, okay getting married would have been a good reason, but for two years with no new product. It was way too long. Eventually Tiger Suit was released in September 2010 and it spelled a very different style from what I expected, however after a couple of plays I was definitely becoming hooked in.
And the a new tour was announced, with the only Scottish date was again a ‘home’ gig at The Alhambra. 
A sell-out was expected and delivered. Two thousand or so hardened fans paced into the place ready to rock and boy were they in for a treat.
Opening act and fellow Fifer Pictish Trail,aka Johnny Lynch, like the first gig I saw opened the night. Mr Trail, by himself this time entertained with a selection of his own material and a nice bit of banter, nicely setting the tone of things to come. He has a good voice and some interesting song ideas. Well worth checking out.
With the atmosphere building and the anticipation almost palpable the pocket dynamo that KT is hit the stage together with her hot, tight band and proceeded to rock the house for around an hour 30.
She really is a live wire on stage, very active, never still for a second, and with a voice and stage presence more than large enough to fill the massive Alhambra space… and then some.
Her set was naturally predominately off Tiger Suit, and the songs sounder almost better live than on disc, but there was also the inclusion of a few ‘golden oldies’ as well, some given a very different makeover, to balance up proceedings.
90 minutes it may have been, but I for one would have happily listened to another 90 as well, and one thing I am sure I would not have been listening alone, but all good things have to come to an end, and this night did. She did however promise to not be away so long the next time and we all hope that this is true.
If you can get a ticket to see her on her current tour, take the oppertunity. These dates can be found on her website www.kttunstall.com an for all of the exhaustive programme at the Alhambra check out www.alhambradunfermline.com
Reviewed by Geoff

Steve Williams Tuesday 22 February – Stand Comedy Club Edinburgh.

It was around July 2005 that I first became aware of the name Steve Williams, when this personable Welsh guy was on tour with Danny Bhoy. We caught up with him in deepest darkest Kirkcaldy, and although we hadn’t come to see him, were well impressed with his shortish set and pencilled him in for further investigation, something that has been taken seriously with this night the latest session.
With a couple of mates in tow I arrived at my normal early time prior to doors to find the queue halfway down the street. Promising! Although my favourite seat would have been gone Mr Williams would have a good crowd. This definitely was the case as long before showtime there was not a seat to be had and precious little standing room either.
Steve took to the stage promptly and then proceeded to entertain for the entirety of his set with well crafted, observed and presented material on a variety of subjects. He reacts and interacts well with his audience yet is no means can he be thought of as intimidating. America, Buckfast, mobility scooters, Afghanistan, queuing, football chants and drink-driving were just a selection of the topics this erudite comic expounded on. Yet although it was packed out, often his style came across as if he was chatting to a few mates in a bar.
I couldn’t believe that after what seemed to be about 10 minutes he was announcing an interval. Those ten minutes were in fact 50, and as one of my mates said, he realised how good Steve was the way the time evaporated. I can only concur.
After a break to recharge the glasses, it was on with part two. And it was all as good as the first part, just different topics. Williams is a prolific writer and his skills are snapped up by Russell Howard in his BBC 3 series amongst others. But he obviously retains plenty for himself too. His appearance on Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow also confirmed his standing within the industry, and gives the TV viewers a chance to see what he is about. That is of course a must-see comic, and in my humble opinion one that works best with a live audience.
There are no airs and graces from Williams, just an abundance of funny stuff, and I don’t think anyone could have left the gig failing to be impressed by the man and his comedy.
Due to the volume of work he has on it’s not every week that you can catch him live, so if you get a chance grab it with both hands. Do not miss out because if you do, then you really have.
To check out where he is playing go to www.stevewilliamscomedy.com or to see which other gigs are being staged at The Stand, both in Glasgow and Edinburgh, oh and prepare for Newcastle as well shortly, their website is www.thestand.co.uk  and hopefully I will see you there.

Reviewed by Geoff

Singin’ I’m No A Billy He’s a A Tim – NLP Theatre Company

It was the late great Bill Shankley who came out with the statement ‘Football is not a matter of life or death…. It’s more important than that’ and this maxim seems to hold true for too many people and two examples of this are Celtic fan Tim, James McAnerney and Rangers fanatic Billy, Scott Kyle, who find themselves incarcerated in the same jail cell during the latest ‘Old Firm’ match. But it is certainly a different story for jailer Harry, James Millar who is waiting for information of his critically ill grandson.

This play written by Des Dillon and directed by Stephen Cafferty is an extremely funny look at the inbred rivalry and bigotry that is prevalent in many cultures, complete with earthy language, scuffles and gradual revelations that just maybe the opposite factions are not so wildly different in essence.

This production has gathered rave reviews and awards throughout it’s entire life so it is understandable that it always draws big audiences, often audiences who cannot ever be described as regular theatre goers, and this was certainly the case at Dunfermline’s Alhambra Theatre,

Peppered with many anecdotal references to recent Old Firm news, these bring howls of laughter and occasional derision from the separate factors within the audience, as Dillon pokes fun at many of the beliefs that are held.

This play is outstandingly funny, yet occasionally laced with pathos and both McAnerney and Kyle deliver in style as the two anti-heroes. Yet their somewhat stereotypical characters do have the ability to see past their dogma and seem to have genuine empathy for Harry’s situation as this leads to the somewhat predictable conclusion.

This play doesn’t require an in-depth understanding of football to enjoy it, but maybe the language is such that you should think twice before taking your maiden aunt to see it.

NLP Theatre Company is touring this production until April, so if you fancy a really good laugh why not go to their website www.nlptheatre.co.uk and check where they are performing near you. And for future productions playing a the Alhambra Theatre www.alhambradunfermline.com is the site to see.

Reviewed by Geoff

Stand Comedy Club 10 February

After a break of a couple of weeks it was time I decided to tackle the mid-February blues and where better to do so than at the countries premier comedy club, The Stand Edinburgh. So in company with many others I took my place early to take advantage of the home cooked food on offer and also make use of the well stocked bar prior to proceedings starting.

 Our compere for the night was Jo Caulfield. Now I have seen this excellent comedian perform her Edinburgh Fringe extravaganzas for years and a number of times out with August doing her sets. I have seen her on TV and listened on radio, but this was the first time I had seen her as the host. As always Jo was right on the money from the off with the different skills required for this role, making the whole thing look totally easy, something it certainly isn’t. The job obviously entails warming up the crowd, eliciting information and identifying targets for further rapport, and loosening up the chuckle muscles for the evening ahead. This is of course food and drink to a performer of her calibre and of course as well as this she mixed in some finely crafted material as well.

The opening act of the night, Danny Lobell, was all the way from New York City, where he is a high profile performer and a doyen of comedy radio podcasts, however for me and I suspect most, it was our first experience of this larger than life funny man. Lobell has a Scottish / Jewish heritage and has a whole raft of well written and observed material on different than the run of the subjects. He had an entire chunk on Holocaust Museums coming up with really funny, if occasionally out there lines, also bears, dogs and busses came in for his treatment.

For me at least his set was all too short, I would love to see him given more time to expand on his set and hopefully I’ll get the chance before too long.

Following the first interval and another dose of the best Ms Caulfield could offer young Glaswegian Ray Bradshaw was the man in possession of the short slot. A new name to me, but he was brimming with confidence and had stage presence a plenty. He also had loads of funny material as well, getting the crowd on side from the off with plenty of belly laughs to boot.  I would be very surprised if he is not destined for bigger and better things in the near future. Other young Scots who I have thought this about on the first viewing include Kevin Bridges and Daniel Sloss, and they are certainly doing more than alright. So take my advice look out for Bradshaw, I know I certainly will.

Closing out part two was Edinburgh born ‘yummy mummy’ Wendy Wason. Now I have seen her perform a few times in the past and have been impressed, but on this she has moved up to another level.

Brimming with confidence and quality material to spare, her 20 minutes were filled to bursting point with stuff on her parents, her kids, upbringing, marathon running and reality stars to mention just a few topics. Wendy does get side tracked at times wandering away from her train of thought, but always brings it back to deliver.  A real quality performance from a talented performer.

The final part commenced qwith the habitual prize draw before our headliner Simon Munnery took to the stage to finish off. Now I know Munnery is a hugely popular figure in the comedy world and a Stand favourite, but I have previously found his style to be not to my particular   taste. That is until this set. For me he stormed it.

Munnery is erudite, Munnery is occasionally surreal, but he is always well prepared and delivers a quality set. Maybe I’m ‘getting’ him now; maybe this set was more mainstream, I don’t know. I do know that he delivered on all levels. His die hard fans were as happy as those less tuned in to the man. A wide range of topic, and styles for that matter, a couple of musical interludes and a million laughs and it was all over. Surely not! But yes the time had gone and it was only left for Jo to finalise things.

So yet another quality night at the Stand, a comedy club that operated nearly every day of the year both in Glasgow and Edinburgh. To see what’s on offer check out their website www.thestand.co.uk

Reviewed by Geoff

Brendan Cole – Live and Unjudged

Strictly Come Dancing, a mainstay of the BBC’s winter early evening viewing is a must see for many, many people, myself included. So I along with around eight hundred others eagerly made our way to Dunfermline’s Alhambra Theatre last night to see the show’s ‘favourite bad boy’ , Kiwi Brendan Cole lead an ensemble of professional dancers to bring the glitz and glamour of the TV spectacle to the masses.

Cole together with Nicole Cutler, Andrew Cuerden, Hanna Haarala, Izabela Hanna and Brendan’s big brother Scott performed a selection of the finest and favourite dances from both Latin and also ballroom in an extravaganza lasting for more than two hours, all to rapturous applause from the enthralled crowd. 

With the inventiveness of Cole’s choreography, the skills of the dancers, the multitudinous colourful costumes, the sublime 14 piece band featuring the outstanding vocals of singers Julie Maguire and Iain McKenzie the time evaporated. I could scarcely believe when he announced the last number. However when one has been treated to Salsas, Paso double, Foxtrots, Quick-steps, Tangos, Argentine Tangos, Waltzes, Viennese Waltzes…… the list goes on, well, I suppose two hours was not really surprising.

As well as performing the dances with style and grace, Brendan was the Master of Ceremonies, took a Q & A session with Scott and Andrew and even sang for us too, thus proving more than ever his versatility.

The evidence on display on what happened to be the last night of their current tour, I’m sure there were a few extra ‘pranks’ and the ‘brotherly love’ between Brendan and Scott, led to some interesting revelations during the questions section, but they and the audience loved it all.

But back to the dancing. The finale saw all the six dancers giving their all in a hectic jive that brought the house down; a very suitable way to close proceedings.

As I said this was the last date on the current tour, but you can always check out the web site www.brendancoleliveandunjudged.com for future dates and the up and coming Alhambra programme is on line at www.alhambradunfermline.com