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Fringe the Third

August 18, 2018

Monday evening was swimming night so we didn’t go to any thing…
On Tuesday we did even less!

Wednesday saw us down at the Space on Niddrie Street at The Shakuhachi Experience watching a traditional Japanese flute player and taiko drummer play some classic Japanese tunes before introducing an electronic keyboard into things and playing some hybrid Krautrock/ & electronic music at Space on Niddrie Street. Fun stuff, and interesting between songs history lessons about the old-fashioned flute he was playing!

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Empty Stage after The Shakuhachi Experience
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Thursday evening’s excursion was to what’s now known as Zoo Charteris (the original Zoo venue) for Solarplexus: An Alternative Energy Play, a climate conspiracy comedy sf show. Only four characters but they fired their lines back and forth with verve and were obviously well rehearsed. A giant corporation had put a huge set of reflectors (known as the Restless Eye) into orbit to capture the Sun’s rays and for some reason also needed a plot of land on which the father of two of the other characters was living a very eco lifestyle and working on a means of generating cheap energy…  Good fun, and probably deserved a bigger audience.

Friday wasn’t all Fringe, actually, it turned out not to be Fringe at all! There was a screening of a documentary, Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda, on at Filmhouse which we went to see. His original claim to fame was as a founder of The Yellow Magic Orchestra in the 1980s but he later became better known for writing music for various films, especially Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence. and The Last Emperor. Not much YMO footage, but lots of other music, often just fragments of pieces he was composing or talking about. Not particularly focused, but still engrossing. It finished later than we expected so we ended up missing a live Captain Beefheart tribute we had hoped to see, but I know it’ll be back, so no harm done!

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The Fringe Again, So Soon!

August 13, 2018

So, several days one, we’ve been to some more shows…

Saturday evening, we wnet to see a musical comedy at the Roxy theatre.
It was a gender bending take on some od the Norse myths, called Thor and Loki. Thor was going through an identity crisis and having difficulty living up to expectations but found a kindred spirit in Loki, a female half Giant who turned out to be his half sister…In the meantime, the Giants, led by a male male version of Hyrrokkin (I think – one of the Giant leaders, who had a fierce horse, anyway) were attacking Asgard…

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As the audience leaves, the cast rush to leave before the next show arrives to set up!
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Loki was probably the strongest character but the whole cast played their various rols (and instruments, at times) well.
Good fun, and it looked to be completely sold out.

On Sunday we went to a rather agit-prop climate change play/musical called Let’s Inherit the Earth, on at a Pleasance hall which happened to be up several flights of stairs with no obvious option for a lift. If we notice in time, I doubt we’ll bother going to see anything else there.
Anyway, the small cast played 2 or 3 characters each (including some net-entangled turtles!), some fleeing disatser on foot, some by moving to their posh villas in the Alps…  Ultimately, though, how they try to escape doesn’t really matter… Good punky songs, which the cast performed well.
During lunch at the Fruitmarket Gallery M discovered that Barry Cunliffe was on at the Book Festival and managed to get tickets by phone, so the main afternoon event was a talk about sailing and trade from early times until the Middle ASges, especially around the Atlantic coast of Europe… I have several books by him but had never heard him speak, Fascinating stuff, and I should read more.  Another impromptu decision saw us getting to St. Marks on Castle Terrace just in time for a spoof 1940s style detective radio show, served with a complementray gin & mixer provided by the sponsors, who also got several namechecks throughout the show in the style of old fashioned jingles sung by the cast! It was a rip-roaring tale of bootleggers (gin, of course) gangsters, molls, and a very useful parrot! The two Brits visiting New York and forced to seek accomodation in Hell’s Kitchen won through, of course, and the villains met a sorry end! Great fun, and the best show so far!

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And that’s not just the gin talking!

 

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Fringe 2018!

August 11, 2018

Wow!

Long time since I posted here although there’s been loads I could have written about…

Gigs, films, books, shows… last year’s entire Festival & Fringe… moving house… Actually, my father’s death at the end of last June and all the work afterwards sorting out his Estate, together with moving house earlier this year drained a lot of my energies for doing very much at all and this blog was no exception.

Anyway, here we are again near the start of this year’s summer madness that is August in Edinburgh and so far we’ve been to 2 shows! Well, 3 if you count the opening of the exhibition that’s been occupying M’s time recently! She contributed greatly to a section of P1040172the Edinburgh Shoreline exhibition at the John Hope Gallery in the Botanics, overseeing and contributing to a section called ‘Knit the Shoreline’
Also in the Botanic Gardens is a temporaty event space called the Pianodrome. No lie, it’s entirely made of old pianos, even the flooring, including 5 working keyboards and seating for up to 100 people at a time. The evening we went (Thursday) was a nice dry, sunny evening, perfectly suited to sitting under the geodesic dome that the Pianodrome was constructed within.

Pianodrome Before the Evening’s Performance (note small girl with giant bear arriving!)

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The support group was a quartet called Dowally, with accordian, violin, guitar & double bass. As all performance have to be ‘in the round’ they all faced each other and the audience could see 3 of them quite well, and the back of the nearest player to them! It worked very well.P1040212

After a break – another bottle of beer fom the temporary bar set up outside under a tree – it was time for Sink, a trio of sax, accordian & violin, augmented on the later songs by a drummer and bass player.
The core trio interacted wonderfully, stalking each other around the stage, mugging a bit for the audience and obviously having a great time, which was just as well, as the whole Pianodrome project was their idea and their effort creating it!

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Matt the brass player and the violinist, with trousers made of old ties!

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Sink the Trio

Great stuff, with hints of Curved Air (Way/Monkman interaction), VDGG (esp Banton/Jackson interplay, and Hazmat Modine at times. The venue really suited them, as it sould have, I suppose, give that they designed, crowdfunded and built it.
(More pictures on my Flickr pages)

The other show we’ve seen was a proper old style Fringe show – a one man performance of a classic post-war play in a musty old vault! It was a 90 minute performance of Dario Fo’s Mistero Buffo, performed by the Rhum and Clay Theatre Company at the Underbelly in a vault of George IVth Bridge adjoining the Central Library.
He came on dressed as a Deliveroo worker but soon transformed into a jongleur, a radical strolling story teller, who proceeded to re-interpret many of the New Testament stories about Jesus, but from a bystander’s viewpoint, rather than the proper agreed interpretation of events by the Church… The original play had room for interpolations and additional material to retain it’s relevance to new audiences and that was certainly done, although it was very difficult to see the joins.
Very well done but the rest of our fringe/festival will probably be a bit less intense!

 

 

 

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Big Bertus!

August 9, 2017

I had a big round number birthday recently and my partner, Madeleine, bought me a present of a ‘Magic Moment’ at the zoo with Bertus, their Indian Rhinoceros.
We’re Life Members and the shop has sponsored Tapirs there for the last 10 years, so it was a very suitable, if a bit unexpected, present.

And Monday 7th was the day I chose to claim my present. (Bertus is leaving the zoo soon so time was limited a bit otherwise I wouldn’t have chosen to close the shop for 1/2 a day during the Festival/Fringe.) Anyway, the morning promised a nice day ahead and we set off, with plenty of time for breakfast along the way. Or so we thought! We had chosen to eat at Haymarket so any Festival traffic problems would be behind us, but all the buses we wanted from there were held up by some unknown problem and we ended up dead on time, instead of with some slack to spare.
Anyway, registration went smoothly and at the appointed time we met the Keeper and off I went from my close encounter with a rhino! And my personal photographer (and gift provider) came too!
Bertus is now nine, I think, so still relatively young, but still massive!

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And I got to feed him a bucket of cut branches and leaves, etc. and see him really close up. Like, close enough to pet his upper lip/nose which was wonderfully soft despite all it’s wrinkles, and rub and pat his flank, which he seemed to enjoy.

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Lots of interesting chat with the Keeper, Erika, and a thorough look behind the scenes, including a little play with his indoor swinging blocks (logs hung from chains he can butt)  and checking out his indoor drinking trough, etc.

A second attempt to feed him the remainder of the bucket of food failed as he had gone outside and was very happy to lie in one one of his wallows and ignore the Keeper’s calls (and mine too). But the first feeding session had been a great success and having a rhino lean into you a little as you rub it’s flank is very special. Looking right into it’s mouth from a foot or two away, or up it’s nostril, or at it’s eye close up, is fascinating, too!
And then it was over, and work beckoned.

But what a half day!

 

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Sunny Days!

August 8, 2017

Summer! Sun! Beaches!

For the first time in ages we had a Sunday to ourselves and decided to have a minor trip to the beach! Not any old beach, but one that you can only access with a bit of a walk, either from Gullane or, as we did, from Aberlady and across the long wooden bridge and through the Aberlady Nature Reserve.

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It turned out they had removed the bus stop at the bridge end carpark but the driver let us off anyway (big thanks as the next stop is half a mile at least further on). Next time we’ll know to get off the bus in the village… Anyway, great weather and just right for a stroll along the paths through the Reserve and over the big dunes down to the beach.

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The tide was well out so we sat and watched the sea and the sky, had a snack and a drink and then went paddling! Down to the sea and then along the shallows as the tide turned for maybe half a mile, back up the beach and along the slightly more rugged walk out to Gullane and a late lunch. Or maybe it was tea!

And a couple of weeks later, on another fine Sunday, we took the (now not so) new Borders Railway down to it’s terminus at Tweedbank, just beyond Galashiels, but before Melrose. Nice journey through the Borders, although nearer Edinburgh it all seems to be new housing and building sites…
After leaving the station we headed for the Tweed just to the east and made a big loop following it upstream past a small herd of Belted Galloways to Abbotsford, maybe a mile west of Tweedbank. It’s a nice walk once you find the start of it and very quiet despite the proximity of the village and nearby towns. And, on the far bank, we saw what must have been a wild mink! I saw it emerge from some waterside greenery and make it’s way carefully along a section of  bank where the covering soil, etc. had slipped into the river leaving a very steep, exposed slope. We both watched it until it slipped into the water, and away who knows where!

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Approaching by the riverside path, we avoided arriving at Abbotsford House itself but it soon came into view from the path through the meadow between it and the riverbank.
A very striking mansion, bought and greatly expanded by Sir Walter Scott and further expanded after his death by the family. So there’s his original grand house which replaced the farmhouse he bought, which is now squeezed between his grand east Wing and the later, equally large, West Wing. Plus formal gardens, terraces, stables etc. Very grand, with great views across the Tweed and to the hills opposite to the north.

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A very nice meal at their visitor centre restaurant and then a walk back through the village and on to the station. We hadn’t really paid attention to the time and realised if we hurried we might get a train without having to wait an hour. And we would have missed it, but the conductor held it while we panted up to the platform and along to the carriage door!
And then homewards in the early evening…

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Up for the Down Stroke!

May 16, 2017

Way back in late 1978, as far as I can estimate, I didn’t go see George Clinton and his Parliament / Funkadelic show at the Odeon in Clerk Street. I wasn’t a huge fan, but I knew people who were and I expect I’d have gone… but ticket sales in Edinburgh were so poor they cancelled the gig. One friend had bought, I think, 8 front row seats and was not happy. At All.

Anyway, nearly 40 years later, they’ve come back and played Glasgow on Wednesday 10th May. I didn’t know how much of a show to expect – certainly not the Mothership or all the pyramid stuff from the 70s! But there were loads of performers – up to 17 I think, although maybe one was really a roadie! His main task was to hold a mic up against a monitor speaker during a couple of songs!

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Apart from him there was Clinton himself, with a shaved head under his black leather hat – no rainbow dreads anymore –  3 electric guitars, bass, drums, keyboards, sax & trumpet. And half a dozen singers/rappers, including 4 women. Together they made a great noise! I’m not a major fan, although I’ve got half a dozen albums under various names,  and haven’t listened to them much recently, but several of the classics were there, together with more modern hip hop and rap elements. One Nation, Up for the Down Stroke, Maggot Brain, Flashlight… And Sir Nose D’Voidoffunk made an appearance!

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Thin as a rake with wide-brimmed white hat, overcoat and trousers, all looking  like they’re feathered! Much posing and some minor acrobatics followed!

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They played a good long show, around 2 hours 20 minutes of driving funk (with some mellow stuff, too, including a ‘Brides of Funknstein’-like section that allowed a lot of the others to take a short break, but I had to leave before I knew for sure they had finished, although I’m sure they were still on stage thanking the audience as I went down the stairs, but they weren’t going to play any more…

The support act weren’t bad either, although obviously not in the same league. A local duo called Shaka Loves You with a table of laptops & decks together with a set of bongos to add a sinuous afro-latin feel to the beats.

Good night, but when I got back to Edinburgh I discovered that no mater how quiet the roads are at nearly 1 in the morning, cyclists still prefer to ride on the pavement!

 

 

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Not My First Concert…

May 12, 2017

One March Wednesday a while ago I went to see Procol Harum. They were playing the Usher Hall in Edinburgh and I was pretty impressed although their lighting rig was fairly rudimentary and it wasn’t really a very big sound system. But it was my very first proper rock concert and I enjoyed it a lot.
That was back in 1973 and my ticket was 75p!

Jump to last Saturday, just over 44 years since I first saw them, and we went to see Procol Harum play at the Queen’s Hall. A much smaller venue, with it’s own lights and sound, perfectly suited to the venue. The only constant member has been pianist Gary Brooker, main song writer and lyricist – the other current members have been playing as PH for decades, but mainly joined in the 1980s & 90s. They have a new album out, their first for 14 years, iirc, so most of that was played during the two sets, along with several of the classic songs from the 60s & early 70s.

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Grand Hotel, A Salty Dog Conquistador (the live cut had been a minor hit the previous summer when I saw them in 1973) Homburg… and finally, as an encore A Whiter Shade of Pale, which they had chosen not to play 44 years ago. So I finally heard their most popular (by a huge margin) song live!
Great performance, with some rather blues-y and jazzy overtones at times, and a great blast of hard rock from time to time! I think some of the audience were surprised to hear that they were very much a rock band! Excellent stuff and I’m very glad I finally got to see them again on this 50th Anniversary tour.

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Setlist 1973
Setlist 2017