Posts Tagged Edinburgh

Ladysmith Black Mambazo

ladysmithThe Edinburgh Playhouse

18-22 Greenside Place

Running time: 2 hours

Best known for accompanying Paul Simon on his hugely successful 1986 album Graceland, this nine-man South African Zulu choir held their adoring fans in raptures with a moving range of haunting a capella harmonies expressing universal values and experiences.

As you would expect, one of the songs – Long Walk to Freedom – was a tribute to the late ANC leader Nelson Mandela. However, most of the songs are related to the mundane things of everyday life; to encourage a young man taking cold feet before his wedding to go ahead with it and another extolling the virtues of mothers-in-law.

One or two cultural differences did show up for the Edinburgh audience. The song Lovely Rain may go down well on the parched South African veldt and in the townships, but in Edinburgh? One thing Edinburgh has no shortage of in most years is rain. In fact a house less than a mile away was hit by lightning in a heavy thunderstorm the previous evening.

The choir members interact well with the crowd, gently taking the rise out of one-another and, just before the break, with the audience too. What’s astonishing is that the performers bring out this extraordinary range of harmonisation without any accompanying musical instruments. It’s all done with the human voice alone. Once you see and hear this you’ll never forget it!

***** Five Stars

Reviewed by David Kerr

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Scottish Folk Roots and Offshoots

Scottish Roots and Offshoots

The Royal Oak Bar

Infirmary Street


SCOTLAND’S music has travelled all over the world; toAustralia,New Zealand,Canada, but most of all toAmerica.  Scots settled abroad for many reasons; poverty and religious or political persecution at home, or just in search of a new life.  Wherever they settled, they brought their music with them. That’s why one of the songs sung for generations in theAppalachian mountainsmentions the River Clyde.  It’s a folk memory.  Once there, the music met with other strains, mutated a bit and came back here.

This trend is epitomised by the Singer/Songwriter David Ferrard.  AnEdinburghlad himself, his mum is American, and he spent most of his summers as a young man over there, picking ups songs as he went along.

This comes out strongly in his routine which draws together songs from Robert Burns excoriating the politicians of his day as a Parcel of Rogues, romantic Jabobite songs dedicated to the Young Chevalier, Black American freedom songs from the slave era and some of his own composition.  Love songs, sad songs, rude songs and silly songs.  They’re all here.

Ferrard engages with his audience in an understated way that draws them out into singing choruses and participating in ‘hand-dancing’. More than half the audience had seen previous performances and come back for more. What better recommendation can a man have?

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Book Review: The Complaints by Ian Rankin

The Complaints book cover

Click on image to buy this book!

EDINBURGH’S master story teller, Ian Rankin is back with a bang in his latest crime fiction novel, The Complaints. As always, Rankin’s novels happened in real time. Inspector Rebus aged over the twenty-year interval between his debut in Knots and Crosses and the final story Exit Music. Rebus attended crime scenes uncovered during the building of the new Scottish Parliament at Holyrood and was there in the background when President George Bush fell off his bicycle at the G8 conference in Gleneagles Hotel. He moved in and out of real events.

The same is true of his new police character Inspector Malcolm Fox. Fox is a copper who investigates other coppers; a member of the despised Complaints and Conduct Department, ‘The Complaints’. This story is set around the credit crunch and the virtual collapse of the Bank of Scotland, the Royal Bank of Scotland and the property market. Fox watches DVDs he bought cheap in the final Zavvi sale. He mourns the loss of Woolworths even though he hadn’t actually shopped there for years.
After a successful case against a really dirty cop, Fox is asked to investigate a bright young detective who is suspected of downloading child porn. In a period of two weeks a number of problems in his personal life become intertwined with this investigation. As his investigation proceeds, Fox has to juggle the lives of his frail father and his abused sister, and a murder too close to home for comfort.


Reviewed by David Kerr

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