Bach to Baby: The soulful cello (3.5*)

bachRuth’s 3.5* review:

Bach to Baby is a concert series from the south of England, performing live classical music for kids.  On this occasion the programme included Chopin, Debussy, Dvorak and Bach performed on piano and cello.

This is the most expensive event I’ve taken BabyStevenson to so far, and one that I specially took the day off work to go to as it was only available on this day.

The event was held in a lovely church which was beautiful.  However.  I think they were not expecting such a good turn out as a lot of time was spent directing people in and parking prams.  I was sent to the front with my pram.  The seating choices were either a pew or on the floor at the front.  Neither seemed ideal for wrangling an almost-toddler but I went with sitting on the floor as I felt he’d enjoy it more if he could watch the cello.  So I was sitting up front with the child and pretty much holding him down by the trousers to prevent him from crawling off / chewing cables / stealing food and toys from other children / climbing on the stage.  And the organisers were still ushering people in… 15 mins after the advertised start time…  So having been there ten minutes early I was already dealing with a very bored child.  15 minutes late is a long time for babies, pretty much their attention span really.  Which means I’d exhausted my distraction plans by the time it even started.  Then just as it started I realised that as my pram was at the front I was trapped for the full hour.

Actually it was fine, the concert was very pleasant and I do think BabyCyclops enjoyed and was interested in the cello because he stood up against the railing and watched it for at least half of the time.

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National Museum of Scotland Free Fringe Music (3*)

2015-08-14Ruth’s 3* review:

The National Museum of Scotland has a different performance of free live music every day during the Fringe.

This was a pleasant occasion with chairs set out in one of the museum through-spaces and on this day we saw a performance from a soprano with piano accompaniment (Emma Versteeg and Maryam Sherhan).  The selection of music was quite serene.

It started off busy and with all the chairs occupied we positioned ourselves at the back edge of the crowd, but this meant that BabyStevenson wasn’t too near the singer and so I’m not sure he noticed that the music was live and he was pretty restless.  He joined in the clapping though!  I walked him a bit closer which occupied him a little and he did take some interest in the performers, but I wouldn’t say he would have been welcome to crawl about at the front so we just did a circuit behind the chairs a few times.  I felt that we were in the way even doing this.  One nice man smiled and waved to him.

So on the whole BabyStevenson wasn’t particularly interested.  No reflection on the performers, but I don’t think this type and setup of performance is for him just now.  He needs something more lively and/or visual, or with space to rampage about.  Good to know.  People wandered in and out leaving more space at the back, so I let BabyStevenson roam freely with the music in the background and that was quite nice.

The National Museum of Scotland is great for kids and we had a bit of a look at some of the displays and a roam about in the main hall.  All required facilities are right there and there are (tiny) lifts to get to the floor you need.

The Distraction Club – 2

Ruth’s review:

A second attendance at this music comedy compilation show. Brilliant. If I was rating this I would give every single act 4.5*, which is an unexpectedly high standard. I’m not sure how well the Nazi-based Frank Sinatra act (Frank Sinazi) went down with the crowd but I loved loved loved it. Loved Bob and Jim (particularly That’s Not My Gnome) and Johnny and the Baptists was a very funny, charismatic and talented act. Also liked Ria Lina, she’s a terrific singer and her songs are witty and intelligent. It was unfortunate that she singled me out for audience participation to say that I was too prissy and middle class to enjoy her stuff – and I just smiled and sucked it up. That pissed me off – I’d take on anyone in the room in a competition for ‘who likes the most edgy comedy’ and ‘who likes knob gags’ – and I think I’d win both. Ha. Plus we saw Jollyboat and Adam Kay who we have seen and enjoyed before. This is a very good value late night show, and it went on for two hours this time which was awesome.

The very lovely Kirsty Newton

The very lovely Kirsty Newton

Ian’s review:

Absolutely brilliant – really sad that it wasn’t full although I’m not objecting to being able to get half-price tickets.  The house band is brilliant, and I have to confess that the good looks, wit and musical talent of their leader Kirsty Newton is almost enough reason in itself for me to attend!  Each of the band did a number of their own, of a consistently very high standard.  As for the rest, it really was a superfluity of comic talent.  Bob and Jim nearly choked me to death with “That’s not my gnome” (click to watch), and it was great to see some songs from Adam Kay that weren’t in his full show when we saw it (Amateur Transplants: Adam Kay is going for a number 1 – 4.5*).  We got another helping of Jollyboat too – it turns out that their Pirate Pop Songs are still funny fifth time around (we’re not stalking them – they just seem to be at every cabaret we go to!).  Frank Sinazi pushed past the boundaries of good taste for his Sinatra-inspired song 3rd Reich – comic genius.  Rea Lina was also very good, and Johnny and the Baptists brought great energy to finish off the evening.  An absolutely cracking line-up.

There is a part of me that is a tiny bit sad this isn’t the last show of the fringe for us – it would have been great to go out on such a high.  We will DEFINITELY be looking out for this next year, and when we are in London.

Titty Bar Ha Ha (4* / 4.5*)

2013-08-13 Fringe 0010

Ruth’s 4* Review:

I saw an excerpt from this at The Distraction Club so thought I’d give it a go.  Hope and Gloria work in 1940s club Titty Bar Ha Ha, and in this show we are welcomed into their world.  This is mainly musical comedy with a storyline to hold it together, and quite a lot of filth thrown in.  The story is silly but works pretty well.  But it is the combination of costumes, accent, song and vulgarity that is hilarious and brings it all together magnificently. This show had quite a bit of audience participation and as I was one of the audience that participated this part was particularly awesome.  But the girls are so good I would have much preferred to skip this bit and just hear from them.  The singing was outstanding – lovely voices and lovely harmonies – and a real highlight for me was the mashup of Tainted Love and Bang Bang.  I also loved the kazoo section, and in particular the excerpt from Chess which was surprisingly beautiful.

Ian’s 4.5* Review:

Any show with a riotous kazoo duet of “I know him so well” from Chess (still humming it today) and a spectacular vocal  mash-up of “Bang Bang” and “Tainted Love” is going to be a winner in my book.  Set in a seedy club in WWII, Hope and Gloria mix smutty comic songs with entertaining audience interaction and exposition of their sordid back-stories.  They are likeable and engaging, and this was a nicely put together hour of light-hearted entertainment.  Some of the singing was really quite beautiful, and the characterisations are as charming as they are dark.

Jollyboat (4.5*)

2013-08-13 Fringe 0001Ian’s 4.5* Review:

We’ve already seen Jollyboat three times at Cabaret shows, and since the one or two songs that we’ve heard repeatedly have remained funny we thought we’d give their full show a go.  This Free-Fringe show is in a dark nightclub crudely converted into a performance space. The production uses string-and-gaffer-tape props, and the sound is a bit dodgy to say the least.  None of that really matters though.

The Jollyboat brothers have a brilliantly terrible collection of puns, all put to good use converting well-known songs to comic ditties.  They opened with the now-familiar pirate puns medley (yes, still funny a fourth time) then proceeded to romp through songs based on Star Wars, the bible and Craig David’s Seven Days.  Their Disney Princesses song is sufficiently obscene I fear it may have permanently polluted my mind, and whilst I may have groaned at the “keyboard shortcuts” song, I was grinning inside.  To top everything, they finish by parodying one of their own songs!!!

Clever, funny, self-deprecating and hugely entertaining.

Ruth’s 4.5* Review:

Jollyboat are a pair of brothers who sing amusing songs.  Well I have seen Jollyboat in three compilation shows this year (so far) and once last year… so it was about time I saw the whole thing.  It was a bit of a worry that I might have seen their best material already.  But no!  A terrific show, I thoroughly enjoyed it from end to end.  Even the pirate pop songs medley was funny the fourth time round.  Jollyboat are decent singers but this isn’t an obviously polished act.  But I wouldn’t want it to be – the personalities of the brothers is part of the charm.  Loved the song about female comedians, loved the love song / puns song.   All of the songs were funny, and surprising, and very clever.  And they even parody one of their own songs.  Which is genius.  This is free Fringe and if you give them a fiver you get a CD of the songs.  Lovely.  Oh, and there is some partial nudity which does no harm.

The Mechanisms: Ulysses Dies at Dawn (4.5*)

2013-08-11 Fringe 0002Ian’s 4.5* Review:

A very talented group of performers with a really interesting, different, musical and enjoyable hour of twisted steampunk storytelling.

Last year we saw The Mechanisms: Once Upon A Time in Space which we loved.  This year, the charismatic Johnny DeVille once again leads his band of space-pirates in a musical storytelling feast.  I must confess I supported their IndieGoGo campaign to make a studio recording of this, but I haven’t yet listened to the CD as I wanted to see them live first.  I really enjoyed it – there was a wider range of musicality this year using the voices of all the band members in different ways in different songs.  It was thoroughly engaging, and I was astonished to discover an hour had passed when the show came to an end.   Highly recommended.

2013-08-11Ruth’s 4.5* Review:

Our second time seeing the steampunk space pirates The Mechanisms.  For the second year this was a wonderful hour of spoken word and song – this time with a bluesy feel.  Compelling and interesting songs, great singers, charismatic performances, wonderful costumes and makeup – I absolutely loved the theatrics of it.  Very very good.  If I had a small criticism it would be that I was so taken up with the performance that I didn’t find it wasn’t easy to follow the story.  Or maybe that says more about me than them.  It’s free Fringe but if you give them a fiver you can have a CD of the show – epic.

The Noise Next Door Comedy Lock In (5*)

2013-08-10Ruth’s 5* Review:

[First 5* review from me!]  Oh, Noise Next Door.  Lovely lovely Noise Next Door.  So very very funny.  In this late night show the Noise Next Door do a bit of improv and have some comedy guests in.  This time Chris Martin and Joe Lycett.  The comedians do a quick bit of standup and then join in with the improv games.  Brilliant, brilliant format.  Works so well and hats off to Noise Next Door for making it appear so seamless.  What this format also highlights is how good Noise Next Door are at their jobs.  Because, obviously, Chris Martin and Joe Lycett were not as good and not as quick and not as witty.  They were out of their comfort zones of course, but good sports and had a go.  Chris Martin in particular was quite good.  But Noise Next Door managed to make themselves look good in comparison, whilst creating a warm and appreciative environment for the other comedians.  Nice guys.  Consummate professionals.  Plus they are hard working these Noise Next Door, doing two shows and all over the compilations.  I like that too.  They deserve lots of success.  And the purple one is hot.

2013-08-10 Fringe 0039Ian’s 5* Review:

I laughed for a solid hour – there’s not much more I can say to recommend a late-night comedy show.  The Noise Next Door did some segments we had seen before, but because they are improvising they were so different it really didn’t matter.  They are so clever with their improv both linguistically and visually that the experience is completely different, and a lively audience in a small, packed room made for a great atmosphere.  Their guests were Chris Martin and Joe Lycett, both of whom did  a few minutes of decent stand-up before getting involved in the improv.  Chris did pretty well, but Joe struggled a bit to be quick enough.  The guests just helped to emphasis how good the Noise Next Door are at what they do.

After disappointing visits to Best of the Fest and Late’n’Live in recent years, this is one of the best ends to a night on the Fringe I’ve had in years!