Red Hot Chilli Pipers – Dunfermline’s Alhambra Theatre – 30 December

With what has been a successful year for bothDunfermline’s’ Premier Theatre venue,   The Alhambra and of course the World’s no.1 exponent of Bag-Rock, are there any other?, the Red Hot Chilli Pipers, what could be a better way to bring down the curtain on 2011?

With what seemed to be the excess of 1800 bag rocker fanatics of all ages from 12 – 112 packed into this prestige Dunfermline Night spot the scene was set for yet another evening of  the sensational  eclectic mix of solid rock tunes and traditional bagpipe numbers, well mixed as only this bunch of musicians can deliver.

This gig has become, in a short space of time, a highlight, nay a tradition almost, of what is the best thatScotlandcan offer. For a number of years now they have graced this stage to perform their own take on the music scene.

Classics from Coldplay, Queen, Guns ‘n’ Roses, The Who to name just a few were given the unique twist that the Chilli Pipers excel at and even that there is no G Man or Stuart Cassels anymore, it detracts little from their excellence.

They, this year anyway, elected to play without a support act, yet from the moment they hit the stage until their departure some nearly three hours later produced a set that had their die-hard fans in ecstasy and no doubt converted a huge number of others to become fans of the bag-rock.

Encore after encore elongated what was an extraordinary night, only I assume to be equalled, if not exceeded, next year if all is well. The Red Hot Chilli Pipers are here to stay and  I’m sure that the fans will return in droves once their next gig is announced.

To check on future gigs for the Chillis why not visit their website www.redhotchillipipers.co.uk  or for what’s on at The Alhambra then www.alhambradunfermline.com is the site to be on.

Reviewed by Geoff

The Best of Scottish Comedy – Stand Comedy Club – 21 December

The shortest day of the year coincided with my final pre Xmas visit to Edinburgh’s no 1 comedy club The Stand for the aptly named Best of Scottish Comedy night.

The milder weather seemed to draw a whole host of visitors to the club including a pack, and I use the term deliberately, of off-shore workers who were determined to have a good time following their release back into society.

The compere for the night was the effervescent and funny Ayrshire hairy man Billy Kirkwood. Now he has always been a favourite MC at the Stand and he was in his element, a packed house ready for fun and just a little boisterous giving him plenty of scope to sharpen his wit, tasks he performed with his usual aplomb.

Opener for the night was Ray Bradshaw, a young Glaswegian comic who in my opinion has bags of potential. I first saw him a couple of months ago and was looking forward to seeing him do a longer set. His material as always was snappy and funny, some I was aware of but most was new to me, and although slightly suffering from our oil workers, still turned in a quality performance. I feel this guy has the possibility to reach the very top and I certainly look forward to watching his progress.

Opening act of part two was another of my favourites that being Jay Lafferty. Now I have seen her on stage numerous times over the last few years and she has always delivered a fine set and tonight was no different. Ms Lafferty has stage presence a plenty and a wicked side to her seemingly innocent look. He set was a fine mixture of some new material with a few of her greatest hits blended in. I’m sure she did nothing but enhance her already glowing reputation as she was well received by one and all.

Sean Grant closed the out the second section with the assured performance of the seasoned pro that he is. It has been quite a while since I had seen him perform and thought how much he had matured. Calm, controlled, yet funny throughout histime, with a wide ranging topic selection,  this occasionally self-deprecating comic is well worth seeing if you get a chance, I know I’ll be there when the opportunity arises.

Following the second interval and prize draw it was time for the headliner and what a treat for everyone. Glaswegian maestro Janey Godley is a confirmed favourite of mine, partly because you never know where she is going to go on the night, but what you can be assured of, is whatever avenue she goes down, the result is a set packed with quality, very funny and well written material delivered as only she can. Ms Godley is no shrinking violet, hell no. She shoots from the lip and nobody is immune from getting their comeuppance. She is occasionally slightly shocking for the more delicate palate, but probably draws more belly laughs per set than anyone on the circuit. I find myself being so engrossed in her stories that the time just passes before you know it, and I just know the next time I see her it will be the same, only the material will be different.

And that was it, unfortunately. Billy closed the show and we drifted away into the night, and I like many others I suspect heading for the website www.thestand.co.uk to see what other fare in on offer not just in Edinburgh and Glasgow, but at the new venture The Stand Newcastle.

Reviewed by Geoff

Aladdin – Alhambra Theatre Dunfermline

It must be Xmas time, the festive lights are on, the shops are busy and it’s Panto time!! Oh yes it is, and big time Panto is no longer the province of Glasgow or Edinburgh. Dunfermline’s Alhambrais staging an extravagant production of their own this seasonal time with all the razzmatazz one has grown to expect with this medium.

Now I must confess to not being a total fan of this style of entertainment, but if there is a show that could possibly change my mind,  then this just maybe it.

Starring Edinburgh’s own ‘Joseph’ Craig Chalmers in the title role with the stunning Soraya filling the love interest as Princess Jasmine in this new production written by Stuart Thomas, the show hits the right note from the very start. Ably supported by the Evil Abanazar, played by James McKenzie, Widow Twankey, by Stephen Docherty, Wishee Washee played by David Ashwoodand, with Alan McKenzie as The Emperor together with the aptly named So Shy, Jill Nadin,  director Lawrie McNicol and the rest of the creative team have put together an excellent production, complete with some hi-tec effects that were impressive to say the least.

But the essence of true Panto is woven throughout the entire show, that sticks closely to the original comcept plenty of audience interaction encouraging the kids to get involved, references to local places and current events, the obligatory distribution of sweets launched into the crowd and of course the mandatory sing song towards the end prior to the inevitable wedding. All tried and tested stuff, and that is what the audience demand and is certainly what is delivered.

This lavish and slick production is running up to 24th December with evening shows and matinees on offer, check the website www.alhambradunfermline.com for all the dates, times and prices and you will be able to put the ForthBridge queues or the trek to the Weeg behind you, Oh yes you will.

 

Reviewed by Geoff

Blood Brothers – Alhambra Theatre Dunfermline

It says plenty about the quality of a production when it has been running inLondon’s West End continuously for twenty plus years, and also there is usually a Bill Kenwright touring production on the go as well. So something must be very right in this classic Willy Russell musical. And there is.

This is of course the story of separated twins, Mickey Johnston and Eddie Lyons and features the whole debate of nature v nurture, as the story line tracks their lives from birth to the finale some 25 years later.

Mrs Johnstone, played by Vivienne Carlyle, can’t stop having kids, her employer Mrs Lyons, Tracy Spencer, is less fortunate and when Mrs J discovers that she is having twins they agree that Mrs L should have one as her own which seems good to them  initially but maybe not such a good idea in reality.

The storyline is kept moving along by the somewhat sinister narrator, Craig Price, as Mickey, Sean Jones, and Eddie, Chris Carswell, grow up as near neighbours yet poles apart in upbringing.

The love interest of Linda, both twins are enamoured with her, Anna Sambrooks, is yet another complication in their development and comedy and tragedy are never far away throughout the superb production with the excellent script turned in by Willy Russell.

Now I have seen this musical umpteen times over the years and in essence it hasn’t changed, both dark at times, yet almost frivolous at others a real mix of emotions are generated, belly laughs occassionally, genuine tears at others. The current incumbent cast of those already listed and supported by Daniel Taylor as Sammy, Tim Churchill, Graham Martin, Joanna Dalladay Jonathan Vickers, Karl Greenwood, Suzi Power and Alex Harland are as good as any I have seen over these performances.

The music is of course an integral attraction, again written by Russell, and the very talented singers are given a tight platform by the band under the direction of Kelvin Towse.

The whole quality of this show was illustrated by the universal standing ovation that marked the end of the opening night performance, one that was richly deserved in my opinion.

Blood Brothers is running at The Alhambra until Saturday 10 December so if you are quick you still have time to catch it, See www.alhambradunfermline.com for details and also of all other shows they are currently planning over the next few months.

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

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

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

Lion Whisperer – Milton Jones

Milton Jones, you know the Hawaiian shirted wild haired one-liner comic who frequently graces ‘Mock the Week’, rolled into Dunfermline for the latest stop on his massive countrywide tour and such is his stature in the comedy world, he had not one, but two, support acts.
With around 800 other people in place, the Alhambra Theatre Dunfermline was certainly the place to be and I think it is a fair assessment that they had a good time and then some.
The opening act was ‘Milton Jones’s Granddad’ and judging from the style and material this old buffer delivered, it is obvious where Jones gets his talent from. A few minutes of his silly, witty and funny ramblings nicely got the crowd warmed up for the acts to follow, the first of which was young up and coming talent James Acaster.
Acaster is from Kettering in middle Englnd and he started off on his set of stuff encompassing strange subjects such as Weetabix , cheese graters, talking money and bread research, all gentle stuff, funny if not always hilarious to most but not one guy. How James had angered him most were at a loss to know but shouting out abuse the guy left. Well, that reaction spurred Acaster to greater things, the set was shelved and he riffed through the remaining time with great aplomb. His improvised stuff was really funny and drew howls of laughter from all parts of the theatre and to me showed what the guy is capable of. The only loser here was our friend who left.
Milton Jones however was the act everyone wanted to see and once he hit the stage there was no stopping him. Like those of a similar delivery style such as Gary Delaney, Stewart Francis and Tim Vine his material consists basically of one-liners relying heavily on puns to sell the gag. I wondered prior to the gig if I would get bored of this in time, but such was the quality of material and delivery that the hour flew by, and I could have handled much more. The comic timing the guy possesses is to die for and he has the character off pat. It must be difficult for him to sustain the high standard thoughout, but maintain it he does. And another thing, I noticed about him, there was not a single swear word uttered from the stage all night and that’s not something you could say about many gigs.
Milton Jones has done the hard yards early in his career and now is beginning to reap the rewards. His major tour had had to be extended due to public demand and one can understand why. To see if he is playing near you check out http://www.miltonjones.com and for future dates at The Alhambra then http://www.alhambradunfermline.com is the site to be on.

Brand New Comedy Experience for Edinburgh

The news of an exciting new venture is hitting the streets of Edinburgh with the opening night being on Friday 28 October.
The Shack, situated in the heart of Edinburgh’s famous Rose Street, opens its doors at 7-00pm with a comedy show commencing around 8-00pm. It promises national and international comics from the off all compered by Jojo Sutherland.
At the end of the comedy set why not stay on for the 70’s and 80’s club night and dance the night away without venturing into the wilds of Edinburgh’s winter weather.
For full details check out the website http://www.theshackedinburgh.co.uk