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22 Aug 20144 stars

UK beatboxing champion Grace Savage delivers stunning coming-of-age show

When Grace Savage beat boxes, you can’t help but be mesmerised. Blind does not merely showcase her breathtaking talent (she is UK beatboxing champion of 2012 and 2013), but combines theatre, music, autobiography and audience participation to question…

Dizney Rascal

21 Aug 20143 stars

Wavering taste levels let down Rebecca Humphries' musical comedy

Sing-a-long versions of Disney songs are played on a big screen as the audience files in. It’s a nice touch to set the mood and introduce Rebecca Humphries’ musical comedy. The show starts strongly with a number taking us through the history of Disney…

Christeene: The Christeene Machine

20 Aug 20144 stars

Unashamedly sexual and seductive queer live art hip hop at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Given hip-hop's uncomfortable relationship with sexuality beyond the exploitative norm, the opening of The Christeene Machine is a violent, delightful jolt. Spitting lyrics of queer rage, accompanied by two beautiful beefy boys, Christeene arrives on…

The Sma Room Seance

20 Aug 20143 stars

Hybrid music-theatre in search of poet William Soutar's spirit

Here is the setup. We, the audience, are a group of poetry-hungry gullibles, attending a session with a medium of unidentified origin and heavy makeup, name of Madame Lozatska. On stage there is a jazz-folk band playing the poems of Perth-born poet…

Opeth - Pale Communion

19 Aug 20145 stars

Inventive songwriting and fusion-led chops lead 11th album from ambitious Swedish metallers

Opeth and their principal songwriter Mikael Akerfeldt have balls. Big balls. When your calling card is crunching metal and death growls, turning the distortion dial down and going almost 70s prog is pretty risky. But this band had the chutzpah to do…

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Rustie - Green Language

19 Aug 20143 stars

Second album release from LuckyMe producer features canny cameos and more giddy exuberance

Electronic producer Rustie’s lauded debut three years ago, Glass Swords, was like shoving a few packets of fizzy Chewits in your ears; gaudy, exuberant, mildly nauseating, giddy; a kind of aural sugar rush. It was rightly heralded as being…

MC Almond Milk - Teen Age Wasteland

19 Aug 20144 stars

Bonkers rap solo project from James Scott of Conquering Animal Sound and friends

According to the journalists' culinary almanac (or 'Wikipedia' as it is otherwise known), Almond Milk 'comes in plain or vanilla flavours, and is beige in colour'. Radioactive Govan rapper MC Almond Milk is nothing like that. With rhymes as effervescent…

Song, by Toad - Split 12-inch V3

19 Aug 20144 stars

Featuring David Thomas Broughton, Jonnie Common Siobhan Wilson and Sparrow and the Workshop

It's hard to imagine Edinburgh's (or Scotland's) grassroots pop landscape without Song, By Toad. Over the past decade, it has evolved from a music blog to a podcast, community hub and local promoter (see August's ace Pale Imitation festival) – not to…

Jonny & the Baptists: The Satiric Verses

19 Aug 20143 stars

Catchy, political songs from musical comedy double act at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Musical comedy double act Jonny & The Baptists (aka Jonny Donahoe and Paddy Gervers) got an unlikely publicity boost earlier this year. After setting out on their 'Stop UKIP' tour and releasing a video on YouTube, the party sat up and took notice…

Simon Thacker’s Ritmata

19 Aug 20143 stars

Tight-knit ensemble pulsing with internationally inspired energy at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Hardly surprising for a group bearing an Italian name that means rhythm, Simon Thacker’s Ritmata is a tight-knit ensemble characterised by an internationally inspired pulsating energy. For their Made in Scotland show in Summerhall’s Café, their…

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Song Noir: The Director’s Cut

19 Aug 20143 stars

Pumajaw successfully conjure late night glamour of film noir at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Song Noir's theatrical trappings – moody lighting, video, a series of pre-recorded spoken word interludes – are neglible, adding little depth to the already moody and profound songs. Through a mixture of classic covers, with cinematic associations, and…

Ute Lemper with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra

19 Aug 20144 stars

Stellar interpretations of Weill and Brecht at the Edinburgh International Festival

What a treat. Ute Lemper is the peerless interpreter of the Weimar songbook, making her cabaret competitors look like greasy lightweights. And the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, conducted by American Lawrence Foster, have the most fun with these lush…

Orlando Julius with the Heliocentrics - Jaiyede Afro

19 Aug 20144 stars

Afrobeat icon and London groove collective collab brings psychedelic twist to familiar sound

The excellent Jaiyede Afro sees London groove collective The Heliocentrics commune with Nigerian legend Orlando Julius, reworking some of his deep cuts and exploring new territory together. 'Buje Buje' is classic Afrobeat with a psychedelic twist. Its…

Aby Ngana Diop - Liital

19 Aug 20144 stars

Game-changing album from female Senegalese travelling musician first released in 1994

First released in 1994, Liital was the late Senegalese griot (travelling musician) Aby Ngana Diop's only album, but it was a game-changer, being the first commercially released album to feature a female taasukat (a Wolof language praise poet) performing…

Interview: artist Toby Paterson on his new collaboration with the Scottish Ensemble

18 Aug 2014

Twentieth Century Perspectives: City Spaces and Strings will create an immersive sound environment

Art, architecture and contemporary music, all in a secret Glasgow location – the opening event in the Scottish Ensemble’s new season is far from a conventional classical concert. Cooked up by Glasgow-born artist Toby Paterson alongside the 12-strong…

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Beats North

18 Aug 20143 stars

A touching theatre double-bill that reminds of the power of music at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

In this double-bill of plays by Ishy Din and Luke Barnes, Al and Jack are two young northern men trying to find their way into adulthood. Jack prefers Bonnie Tyler and Meatloaf to football, and needs to make sure his ragdoll – a hand-me-down toy from…

Movin’ Melvin Brown: The Tap-Dancing Preacher

18 Aug 20143 stars

Gospel music with a little hot shoe shuffle at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Melvin Brown is almost part of the Fringe furniture, and as such has to constantly re-invent his shows for new and returning audiences. This latest outing finds Brown in preacher mode, singing gospel songs and clearly lighting a fire under the more…

Crate Digging: Darkstar set for UK date ahead of forthcoming album

17 Aug 2014

Playlist from group’s James Young featuring Nochexxx, Nicolas Jaar, Gwilym Gold and Micachu

Melodic, densely atmospheric, at once minimal and psychedelic... production trio Darkstar have found a fitting home on both Hyperdub and Warp Records, and will be well at home in the dark, snug confines of Sneaky Pete’s on 13 August. With vocalist and…

The Hibrow Hour

17 Aug 2014

Multi-media arts for smart audiences including Alison Jackson and Jonny and the Baptists

The Hi-Brow Hour, which takes over an afternoon slot at Summerhall for the third week of the Fringe, is more inclusive than the average show. Not only are the individual events be recorded, they are being streamed on BBC Arts Online and shown at Odeon…

Edinburgh Mela 2014 guests line-up includes Apache Indian, Soumik Datta and former-Bhundu Boys Rise Kagona

17 Aug 2014

Multinational dance festival enters its 20th year with highlights including The King of Ghosts

The second day of last year’s Edinburgh Mela may have been called off due to unprecedented high winds, but what the thousands who came to Leith Links saw in the event’s earlier stages was a summation of everything its artistic director Chris Purnell has…

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Symphony by Ella Hickson, Tom Wells & Nick Payne

17 Aug 20143 stars

Three delightful theatre pieces exploring growing up and falling in love

Individually, Ella Hickson, Tom Wells and Nick Payne have seen their fair share of theatrical success. Hickson's had a number of hit plays since her 2008 Fringe debut, Eight, brought her to nationwide attention. Payne's Constellations recently won the…

I Do, Do I

17 Aug 20144 stars

Musician Greg Sinclair creates profound nonsense with kids at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Is I Do, Do I even a kids’ show? Well, yes and no. Edinburgh-based cellist and actor Greg Sinclair’s multi-layered, deceptively simple offering is actually for anyone – there’s nothing aimed directly at children here, although its free-thinking…

Interview: First Aid Kit

15 Aug 2014

Swedish folk sisters on their musical influences and why they sing in English ahead of UK gigs

Johanna, according to Wikipedia it took you a while to be persuaded about the merits of country music, as you were a big fan of German techno. Is that still something you enjoy? We made a joke about that in an interview at one point; Johanna did have a…

Edinburgh International Festival 2014 interview: Jonathan Mills on his Sandakan Threnody

15 Aug 2014

The outgoing artistic director of the festival discusses his WWII memorial piece

Back in March, Jonathan Mills announced the theme for this year’s Edinburgh International Festival. He wanted the programme to look at the relationship between conflict and culture – how war and political unrest leave their mark on art. It probably…

Interview: Rachel McCrum and Jenny Lindsay talk poetry at the Edinburgh Festivals 2014

15 Aug 2014

Poets are popping up all over the capital this august, including Luke Wright and Hollie McNish

Between the crowds, the queues, the small-hours bedtimes and the daytime drinking, moments of poetic transcendence don’t necessarily come high on the August-in-Edinburgh agenda. But those familiar with Edinburgh’s dynamic live literature and spoken word…