We Will Rock You Tour – Edinburgh Playhouse – 29 November 2011

Although originally premiered in 2002 some 9 years ago this jukebox musical created as a fusion of the music of rock legends Queen and the book written by comedian and author Ben Elton does not seem to date in anyway. In fact the opening night in Edinburgh, some twenty years after the death of Freddie Mercury seems as up to date as up to date as the daily newspaper.

Set sometime in the future on the Planet Mall, once known as Earth, where the whole planet is under the control of Globalsoft and live music has been banned and replaced with auto tuned digital recordings that are all under the control of the Killer Queen, played by Ashley J Russell and he evil second in command Commander Khashoggi, Rhydian Roberts.

Old Timer Pop, former Corrie & Eastenders favourite Ian Reddington opens proceedings setting the scene prior to the extravaganza of high tech high energy production really kicks into life.

The underground Bohemians, the rebels who want ‘real music’ are led by Britney Spears, Leon Lopez, and Meat, local girl Jenny Douglas as they seek the Dreamer, the shining light to lead them and could it be that Galilleo, Noel Sullivan, and feisty ‘rock chick’ girlfriend Scaramouche, Amanda Coutts, are they saviours they are looking for?

The ensemble cast playing Gaga girls, Bohemians, Yuppies are colourfully attired and perform with verve and style giving a solid support structure to the ‘names’ and their dance routines are tight and well staged.

The set is as always quite hi-tec and works well, and of course the lighting plot and LCD graphics enhance what is already a great production.

But of course for most it is the music that is king, or should that be queen? The band of eight under, the leadership of Jim Henson is the real structure that the show hangs on, and they are obviously first class. It was also pleasing to see them coming forward to collect much merited applause, something that doesn’t happen enough in my opinion.

All the vocals are very good but for me the stand-out performance came from Jenny Douglas as Meat. This youngster proved she could sing in TV’s ‘Over The Rainbow’ and in what is her theatre debut on this tour her potential is being realised. There is not much of her in stature, but my goodness most of it must be talent and charisma.

When this musical was initially staged it got somewhat panned by the critics but it has obviously been taken to the publics heart as it is probably even more popular today as it was back then. I know ticket sales, even in these austere times are doing well for the Edinburgh run, but if you are quick you may still be lucky. Check out either the WWRY website http://www.wewillrockyou.co.uk or the Edinburgh Playhouse site http://www.edinburghplayhouse.org.uk for details. The show runs there until 7 January 2012

Reviewed by Geoff

Steve Steinman’s Vampires Rock – 26 November 2011

Vampires Rock, the brain-child of writer/ director/producer and main man Steve Steinman returned to Dunfermline’s Alhambra Theatre once again due to popular demand and it is easy to see why this show has such an extensive cult following.
Set in New York in 2030, Steinman plays the evil Baron Von Rockula, proprietor of somewhat seedy club ‘Live and Let Die’ populated with the un-dead all around. Von Rockula ‘assisted’ by handy man Bosley a caricature brought to life by John Evans , is auditioning for a new singer for his club, and probably yet another bride, if only she knew it, and it leads Pandora played by Hayley Russell, a Cliff Richard freak to audition and it doesn’t take long for her inner rock chick to emerge.
From that point it is rock ‘n ’roll all the way. The show opens wit version of Welcome to the Jungle, leading into Highway to Hell, Killer Queen followed by the Rolling Stones anthem Sympathy for the Devil…. And that was just the opening four numbers!!
Although this is a wonderful experience it is not such for the plot line, which is not demanding, but the musicianship and fantastic vocals that are delivered in a veritable ‘Best of’ rock numbers, I counted in excess of twenty songs, a effective set, wonderful lighting plot and a couple of scantily clad female dancers complete the experience.
There is a growing fan base for this show, some people turn up dressed as characters, so I can’t say I have seen such an enthusiastic support for a show that is constantly touring, thaty are already looking at the 2012 schedule.
If you like good rock music and a fun show to boot, then this is certainly the show for you so why not check out their website http://vampiresrock.com/ for all the information you may want. Also check out the Alhambra Theatre Dunfermline’s website for their varied programme on http://www.alhambradunfermline.com for all they can offer.

Reviewed by Geoff

Ed Byrne – Crowd Pleaser – DVD Release

If ever there is an apt description of Ed Byrne then in my opinion the title of this DVD sums it up succinctly. Crowd Pleaser is what he is for sure,
Now I saw an early version of what this tour became way back in October 2010 when it was still a ‘work in progress’ albeit an exceptional quality one and subsequently saw the finished article in April when he visited Dunfermline, again to a sell out show, as part of his enormous tour. This DVD was recorded at his Newcastle gig shortly after that.
From the onset till he finishes some 80 minutes later he never fails to deliver what the audience want, that being top draw observational comedy in his own inimitable style and surely one of the very best stand-up’s currently around.
Some other comedians DVD performances I have seen seem to be slightly remote like they are on TV, but the feeling I got from watching this was that I was actually part of the Newcastle City Hall audience. Byrne is, as he always has been, a top quality observational comedian, and an engaging personality too. His material as always is well constructed and superbly delivered, yet with the odd foray into audience chat proves he can riff with the best of them too. His material is wide and varied, I especially liked the segments about his newly born son and the family’s adopted cat, but in truth there was not any weak points, as those of you who saw the tour will know.
Now no doubt there will be numerous comedy DVD’s available this Christmas so the selection will be difficult. Let me make it easier for you, if you are only buying one then buy this one, if you are buying more, then buy this one and something else too. And don’t watch the Queen after Christmas dinner. Hell no! Watch Ed Byrne because as it says on the tin he is a real Crowd Pleaser.

DVD released on 28 November available from all good stores and Amazon

Jo Caulfield’s Comedy Collective – Stand Comedy Club Edinburgh

Now for those of you who are regular visitors to this site will be aware that we at one4review are big fans of the Stand Comedy Club, and this reviewer is also a huge admirer of Jo Caulfield too. So imagine my delight to see Jo and friends performing this different comedy night on which is sure to become a ‘must see’ monthly event.
This is no normal comedy night. Hell no! Not 4 acts and a compere here, although we do have a selection of some of the best comics on the circuit appearing and of course Ms Caulfield as mein host is in charge, what we do have is, character comedy, sketches, impro comedy and even a excerpt of a comedy game show all linked with laughter and style by our impeccable hostess.
Having done a successful warm-up of the enthusiastic Wednesday night crowd, she introduced the first double act, up and coming Gareth Waugh joined forces with his ‘dad’, the ever popular Vladimir McTavish as ‘The Third most popular Impro group in South Edinburgh.’ This was a nice and gentle set to get things moving, and engaged with the crowd from the off. The packed programme restricted them to a short spot but one that was well worth witnessing.
Character comedy continued next as two penguins fro BBC One’s Nature programme graced the stage. These two chatting between takes had an interesting yet funny take of bird life, complete with penguin gags, yet well hidden in their costumes Jay Lafferty and Dee Custance played their slightly quirky set as only they can and there is plenty of scope in their set for development.
Following the first interval Keara Murphy was the lady in the spotlight and showcased her comedy acting and mimicry talents while delivering a very funny and well written set on the history of women in TV. As always Ms Murphy’s stage presence is imposing and it was good to see her performing once again at the very top of her game.
Close on her heels was a sneak preview of a game show that will be recorded in the New Year and featured Richard Melvin as host of ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’. The game, similar in some ways to Dave’s ‘Argumental’, pitted the very considerable talents of Keir McAllister and Graeme Thomas presenting the case either for or against topics taken from the recent news, the winning argument being judged on audience reactions. This of course gave these guys plenty of scope to duel with each other and howls of laughter were the order of the day from the packed crowd. I certainly could have stood far more of this section.
Heading towards the end now and following the brief second interval a teenage ghost, okay Eleanor Morton with a sheet and a baseball cap, had a few minutes of surreal humour prior to being dragged away by overbearing mother Jojo Sutherland. This I’m afraid was the only part of prceedings that for me anyway didn’t work, but they gave it a go, it was something that the concept of the night was designed to encourage taking people out of their comfort zone after all.
All over then? Not yet!! We needed a review of proceedings, other than mine that is, and who better than those intrepid Impro all stars Stu Murphy and Garry Dobson. Employing their pet impro game ‘Should have said’. These two brought the show to new heights with an absolute hoot of a performance as the man from Radio 4 discussing with Aussie commentator Murphy the whole proceedings.
At that was it. A long night, but an absolute belter. It was good to see so many weel kent faces doing things other than their sets. This had the enjoyment factor flowing from the stage too, it was almost palpable as they watched what their peers where getting up to.
I feel that the concept of this show has a potential cult following, and I’m sure acts too will be queuing up to perform. As no doubt will the audiences too. I was forced by circumstances to miss the first couple of the series, a mistake that will not happen again I can assure you.
For details of all the shows on offer at The Stand at Edinburgh, Glasgow or the new venture in Newcastle then check out the website http://www.thestand.co.uk

Reviewed by Geoff

Bill Bailey:- Dandelion Mind – Alhambra Theatre Dunfermline

It was way back in the aeons of time, circa mid 90’s, that I first saw Bill Bailey who at the time was half of the Rubber Bishops and ear marked him as one to watch for the future. It was obvious that I was not alone in my opinion as his star has been on the perennial rise ever since.
Numerous TV shows, radio performances, movie appearances and of course major comedy tours have kept this West Country born comedian always in the public eye, selling out night after night wherever he plays.
The sell-out house was all primed and ready for the evenings entertainment and this versatile entertainers entrance was keenly anticipated.
Of course it was obviously Bailey the stand-up that was on view on the night and from his initial burst onto the stage till his departure more than two house later his blend of intellectual, if sometimes slightly surreal, occasionally rambling material interspersed with his love of music and an undoubted ability to play the more conventional guitars, keyboards and high speed bouzouki together with the infinitely more obscure Iranian Oud to the Tenori-on, an electronic gizmo that translates light patterns into sound melded into a night of undoubted joy for those fortunate enough to have got a ticket.
Bailey has the ability to draw laughs from the more complex ramblings, but also the silly one liners, his material is as always well written and immaculately performed as once would expect from an artiste of his standing, and if you have never seen him perform live, then take the chance by checking out his website http://www.billbailey.co.uk for those dates that remain on his current tour.
You could also check out the Alhambra website too, http://www.alhambradunfermline.com to see the diverse range of entertainment that is provided at this top quality venue.

one4review would like to express thanks to Jim Yorkston for the kind use of his superb images
Reviewed by Geoff

John Mayall – Alhambra Theatre Dunfermline

Now I suppose the term legend has lost a lot of its impact recently to the overuse that grown, but it certainly applied on 12 November when John Mayall, the absolute master of Blues/Rock graced the stage of Dunfermline’s premier theatre.
Now Mayall has played with an veritable who’s who in the rock and blues world including Eric Clapton, Mick Taylor, Peter Green, Jack Bruce, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood to name just a few, and the quality performers used on this tour are Rocky Athas on guitar, Greg Rzab, bass and drummer Jay Davenport, three guys that certainly maintain the standard previously set. Mayall himself majored on keyboards but the odd excursion on guitar and blues harmonica and certainly his vocal confirmed his status
In a career that has been on the go since 1956, yes really, this multi instrumentalist, now a sprightly 78 years old, entertained those who came to worship at his feet for the excess of 90 minutes. Now I quite like the blues, but am not a fanatic, yet although few if any of the numbers were familiar to me, one couldn’t help but marvel at the standard of musicianship that demonstrated from all on the stage and it was evident from the aficionados that he still had it…. and then some.
So if Mayall is the history, then the opening act on the night is almost certainly the future of British Blues. The Oli Brown Band played for 45 minutes as a warm up for the master. In comparison to the headliner Brown is barely out of nappies at only 21, but the maturity, talent and presence that he exudes belies his youth. Again much of his material was new to me, a lot from his own albums, but the quality of playing was absolutely top draw. The all too short set was well appreciated by the 800 or so fans on the night, and it is plain to see why this exceptional young man has a huge future predicted for him.
The tour rolls on for a number of dates yet , details can be found on http://www.johnmayall.com and for a list of the many and varied attractions at The Alhambra http://www.alhambradunfermline.com is the place to be.
Reviewed by Geoff

Wicked Wenches – Stand Comedy Club Edinburgh – 1 November

The first Tuesday each month sees the best comedy club around in my opinion under the spell of those Wicked Wenches, a selection of some of the finest female comedy talent on the circuit performing together and it has become a must see as far as I am concerned.
The mistress of mirth as usual was the gregarious Glaswegian one time lawyer Susan Calman. Now I have seen her on stage numerous times over the last few years but never tire of her style. She has the knack of mixing her totally hilarious, well written material with the completely different job of being a compere and blending the two seamlessly. Ms Calman was at the very top of her game again, when is she not you may ask, and it was a genuine pleasure to witness this performance.
The warm up done it was the turn of Jen Brister to add to the mix. Now I had briefly seen her perform in Fringe 2011 but it was in a ‘Best of’ show was keen to see what she had to offer. Now Jen is half Spanish and half English and this gives her plenty material, especially the characterisation of her Spanish mother complete with accent and I have to say I was far from alone in thoroughly enjoying her set. Although her heritage was a major source of material, her travels to Australia, Skype, home counties sensitivities and her lack of comprehension of weight and distance reinforced the impression. Certainly I’d be more than happy to see her again.
Following the first interval and some more Calmanator gems it was then the turn of stunning red haired comedian Diane Spencer to take command. Now I had seen her Edinburgh show just a couple of months ago, but this set was totally different. She may look quite innocent but appearances can be deceptive, her material is certainly not for maiden aunts who would certainly want to wash her mouth out with soap and water. But that’s not me, I loved her set and as a veteran of many, many shows certainly was not shocked. Some others were, but then that’s their opinion.
As a one time teacher from a small village in the South West of England, some of the self-deprecating stuff really tickled my funny bone. Again like Ms Brister I will look forward to seeing Diane again.
Following the final interval and prize draw headliner on the night was Mary Bourke making a welcome return to the Stand. Dublin born Ms Bourke was also in Fringe 2011 and I loved her show then. There is no message, just pure stand-up, and jokes lots of jokes, interspersed with the occasional gentle rant. Quietly spoken Mary commands attention and draws laughs through out, with well written material delivered in he own inimitable style, Perhaps she isn’t as well known as she should be as for numerous years has been delivering this standard of work, but I’m sure she could have only enhanced her reputation with this performance. If you haven’t seen her before then go and check for yourself when she is in your area, you’d be missing out if you don’t.
The Stand Comedy Club runs comedy nights virtually every night of the year at Edinburgh, Glasgow and have recently opened their latest club in Newcastle. To check what is on offer then go to their website http://www.thestand.co.uk for details
Reviewed by Geoff