Paul Vickers and The Leg, Andy Brown, Zed Penguin (4 stars)

Paul Vickers and The Leg, Andy Brown, Zed Penguin

Sneaky Pete's, Edinburgh, Thu 24 Apr 2011

Edinburgh eccentrica in exelcis is the order of the day for this triple bill based around the unveiling of Paul Vickers and The Leg's forthcoming third album of wacked-out Beefhearian music-hall blart. Opening proceedings, however, is Zed Penguin, aka Aussie ex-pat Matthew Winter, whose vintage amp appears to have a heartbeat, and who ushers himself in with an elaborate backing track intro before launching into a set of heavily-echoed thrash-blues that errs towards the left-field in a twangingly captivating fashion.

Even more of a show-man is Sara and the Snakes guitarist and best dressed man about town Andy Brown, who in his Victorian Karaoke guise plays to backing tapes, effectively duetting with himself in a voice somewhere between a whisper and a growl. Brown changes hats, gives a singalong rendition of tiny tots nursery rhyme 'This Little Piggy,' and does warped disco segues into George McCrae's mid-70s dancefloor shuffler 'Rock Your Baby' in a way that looks and sounds increasingly Robert Wyatt.

Vickers and co themselves are in splendidly abrasive form, mixing material old and new as a diversion from their sorely overlooked concept opera, 'Itchy Grumble.' Drummer Alun Thomas still dresses like a panda, now with extra-added goatee whiskers. The remainder of the band stand newly unmasked, with cellist Pete Harvey and guitarist Dan Mutch clearly having fun while Vickers belts out a selection of brand new short story oddities, most of which seem to be based around gardening. As the band play like their lives depended on it, first album classic 'The Ballad of Bess Houdini' becomes a jaunty roar of serious fun on a night that veered towards alternative cabaret revue in all its dressed-down glory.

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