Camille O’Sullivan : Feel

5 Stars *****

The lights dim on the packed auditorium, the twinkling fairy lights glisten on a stage festooned with dresses, doll’s house, glitter balls and of course red shoes when a caped vision in red sidles to centre stage. She starts to sing, the audience are hushed as her almost ethereal voice is initially heard. She has one and all in her palm for the next 70 minutes and never lets them go.

Camille has become an institution at Edinburgh Fringe over the last seven years, each year in a bigger venue to cope with her popularity. And little wonder. If the voice was not enough the theatrics that are introduced add another layer to what has already become a sublime artiste.

The song choice this tour is a mixture of well know stuff mixed together with new to most numbers but all given that touch of uniqueness that she brings to proceedings.

She is the complete package as far as I am concerned. A singer par excellence, she has the innate ability to flirt with 800 souls and make it seem personal and although a fairly small lady has the personality to swap the venue.

The songs where varied, but for me she was at her absolute best when performing Brel and Cave numbers, not everybody’s cup of tea maybe, but in her hands they are magnificent.

It will be a long wait until next year’s extravaganza, but I for one can’t wait.

Reviewed by Geoff

Pleasance Grand V 33

3 to 29 August

20:00 to 21:10

Fringe Brochure P 193

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Chez Jack L

5 Stars

*****

First a few organisational details. Jack Lukeman is from Ireland and his show in Assembly 2 does not appear in the Fringe booklet because he is a very late addition to the Assembly schedule. He will be appearing up to 29th August; 21.10 – 22.10.

Now on to his show. I have not seen him perform before, but quite simply he blew me away. Within seconds of appearing on stage, I know he has a confident stage presence. As he is performing his first song ‘Lonely at the Top’, I realise he has a powerful and melodic voice with a tremendous vocal range. After a few songs, it is obvious he can put a song across and can convey such meaning to the lyrics.

When he says he is going to perform songs including selections from Randy Newman and Jacques Brel, I know I am in for a treat because these are song writers whose lyrics demand an assured and stylish performance, and this he delivers.

There is one huge surprise in that half way through his act he dispenses with his three piece band and walks around the auditorium as he sings a slow and moving sea shanty accompanying himself on a tiny accordion.

He is also able to strike up a great rapport with the audience. We are joining in the choruses, clapping along and even clicking fingers. His final number is a brilliant extended version of Brel’s ‘Jacky’.

This week if you have the chance, take the opportunity to see his show. His performance oozes class.

Reviewed by Ben

a Cappella with Cattitude

5 stars *****

When this lot are good, they’re brilliant, and ninety-five per cent of their show is brilliant. A few of their slower numbers lack the sparkling verve and energy of the more up-beat ones, rendering them merely ‘excellent’. But all one hundred percent of this hour of covers, mash-ups and medleys, arranged for a choir of eleven, is worth every penny.

Technically, they are superb: well-rehearsed in choreography and musicality, slick in their spoken communications, and confident and clear in coordinating the audience’s participation in one of the songs. There’s a healthy dose of humour in there too, in both the words and the actions, and you can’t help but contract the infectious joy they obviously have in performing.

If you want more, you can take them home with you (as many of the audience did): their CDs are available for purchase after the show.

 A feel-good fun-filled hour that will make you happy.

Reviewed by Laura

C Venues, 16:45 (50 mins)

Until 29th August

In The Pink: Fabulous All-Female A Capella

3 Stars ***

A capella singing has always been a popular choice of entertainment at the Fringe, and C Venue seems to have been the home of it for years. Certainly this group fromOxfordUniversityhave performed there for years in various guises.

The troupe of 2011 consist of 13 women all dressed in black dresses with a pink ribbon in deference to their name, perform a variety of songs in their 45 minute set.

The lead vocals were shared amongst the group, as numerous mash-ups together with complete songs were pleasantly performed, but where they slightly lacked over other groups was occasionally the lead vocal, although beautifully in tune, was drowned with over enthusiastic backing ensemble.

Being picky I would like to have seen rather more and more complex choreography would have raised the interest more. Still all in all a creditable show that was a gentle start to a Fringe day.

Reviewed by Geoff

C Venue 34

14 to 29 August

13:15 to 14:00

Fringe Brochure P 207

Blues!

4 stars

****

Well, 5 stars for the band, they are simply awesome. Superb music for an hour with genuinely interesting facts and a brief history of blues music and its development.

It lost a star because of the sound balance, the guitars (especially ‘Clapton’) are far, FAR too loud. I’m not saying they should be playing ballads, but when people around you wince during guitar solos and you leave with your ears ringing (which means they’re getting damaged) then you have a major sound problem. At times you have two singers blasting their lungs out and you just can’t hear them, let alone know what they’re singing.

The venue has a very low roof, any decent sound engineer will tell you sound needs to be clear and balanced, not (necessarily) loud and I hope this has now been sorted as it ruins what is actually a superb show!

Review by Alan.

theSpace on Niddry St.

Until 27th August, 20:55-21:55

Out of the Blue

5 Stars *****

 Out of the Blue, an a cappella group based in Oxford are well on their way to becoming Fringe institutions that is assuming the have not already reached this status.

Fourteen male singers in pale blue shirts, dark suits but seemingly lacking shoes, took to the stage of the sold out Pleasance Beyond and for the new 50 minutes produced a high quality entertainment for one and all.

I am a veteran of their shows so was not surprised at the fare on offer, but I was sitting next to first timers who were blown away.

A fusion of music with fun choreography, a variety of singers leading on different songs, mash-ups Glee style and even audience participation was the order of the day.

The repertoire was wide, Bon Jovi, Billy Joel, Louis Beiga, U2, Katie Perry and Sting were artistes featured but this list is not definitive.

I understand that tickets are already at a premium for this show so don’t delay should it be your thing, and why wouldn’t it be?

Reviewed by Geoff

Pleasance Beyond V 33

3 to 29 August (not 16)

15:00 to 15:50

Fringe Brochure P 215

Pink Noise by FORK

5 Stars

*****

Each year at the Fringe there are a few acts that aren’t generally well known at the start but, by word of mouth and several favourable reviews, they become the memorable acts of that year. I predict Finnish a cappella group FORK will come into this category. (I am writing this review on August 8th.) Actually, it is not such a difficult prediction to make when a music act receives a standing ovation after their second encore.

FORK are made up of two girls and two guys. If there is one word which sums up their performance, it is the word spectacular. Their selection of rock songs has one of the four taking the lead, backed up by a driving beat and precise harmonies from the other three. Accompanying the music there is a light show and back projection. Their eye-catching costumes are individualised but co-ordinated, white in the first half and black in the second. Their performance is slickly choreographed. They can do edgy or raunchy whatever the song suggests. And yes, with all that is going on, they can sing and even do a bit of ironic humour between songs.

It takes a bold group to take on a full version of Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ as their final encore but they nailed it. As they performed their set, I recognised most of the songs but, reassuringly, when the group had made their final exit, there was a run-down of their song list projected on to the screen.

It is interesting assessing how the members of an audience react to an unfamiliar act. My impression was of an uncertainty at the outset but by the end they were completely won over.

Reviewed by Ben

Assembly George Square – George Square Theatre: 3

3 to 28 August 2011 (not 10, 17)

18.05 – 19.15

Fringe Programme Page Number: 216