Fringe diary, day seven: Brothers, blisters and bells

9 Aug 2012 @ 11.20 pm
| Entertainment

Henry Rollins: delivers 'a hard-hitting, in your face, engaging lecture'
Ian ColeSeven days in to his Fringe Olympics, Ian J Cole feet are suffering for his art – but great music and comedy keep him moving


I’m feeling tired today, these long days are starting to take their toll and I’m suffering with blisters on my left foot.

So it’s a quick bath to relax my weary muscles before breakfast and a walk around the hidden gardens of the royal mile. I estimate that I must be walking anything up to 15 miles a day, so why choose to do a walking tour? I didn’t.

10.30am Hidden Gardens of the Royal Mile

This was suggested to me by my companion and it was with reluctance that I went along with it (I was much more interested in the scary tour of underground Edinburgh but I couldn’t find the entrance).

Our guide Jean is very passionate about gardening and asked our group when we arrive at the first garden if we all love gardening. Everyone says yes, except me who shouts out NO! The ensemble looks at me at me but Jean says that fine: ‘I had a group of 30 the other day and none of them liked gardening which threw me a bit.’

This was an easy walking tour and we did discover unexpected gardens and green nooks and crannies behind the historic buildings of Edinburgh’s Old Town. Jean is fairly knowledgeable but this tour is a bit thin on interesting gardens.

At one point Jean shows us a car park and tries to explain with images what it would have looked like in the 17th century. I was hoping that this was going to be as much fun as Mr Clapperton’s Witchery Tour of the Royal Mile which I did in 2000 and still love to this day but this is an unfair comparison.

Jean did a good job and it was a nice day to sit in some gardens. I just switched off when she asked us to identify the three types of willow.

12.15pm Art for Lunch (Free Concert)

I didn’t manage to get to this as Jean had over-run with her stories of shrubbery so it was a dash to the BBC area for the recording of BBC Scotland’s Festival Café.

1.15pm BBC Festival Café

The Magnets: in Dire Straits over tragi-comic song
This was one of the free shows provided by BBC Radio Scotland and having been to this type of thing before I knew it would be a mixed bag. The best example of this type of show was a few years ago when the Guardian used to record their daily podcasts, but this wasn’t that good.

The show was hosted by Clare English who had us practising clapping and feet stamping before the show when life (I didn’t get involved).

First up were an a capella group The Magnets who performed three songs – the only one that really missed was a jolly pop version of Dire Straits’ Romeo And Juliet (didn’t they not know that the song is about tragedy?) Up next was Phil Porter promoting his (not very) comic opera with an example performed about a woman who has a disorder and wants to eat everything; I think the libretto was ‘the world is edible’ but it wasn’t very good.

The next interview by Clare was with Ron Butlin, Edinburgh’s ‘Makar’, or Poet Laureate. He was an interesting chap but was just there trying to sell his book and show. Last onto Clare’s couch was Sandra Prinsloo from the play The Sewing Machine but this whole show didn’t do anything for me – it was just 45 minutes of advertising on the BBC.

3.20pm Cover by DugOut Theatre

I was looking forward to this play as it was by the same company who had produced last night’s fantastic play, Inheritance Blues and yet again DugOut didn’t disappoint.

This is a tale of two brothers and the two girls they are involved with when they visit their father’s London flat. But not everything as it seems and all have a desire to keep up appearances at all costs.

Cover is a fantastic work. The only problem was the room was unbearably hot, so much so that it was hard to concentrate on the brilliant performances. It is worth seeing – just take a fan with you.

7pm Henry Rollins – The Long March 2012

This is a new show from legendary Black Flag frontman, author, actor, Grammy award-winner and passionate stream-of-social-consciousness raconteur Henry Rollins. Yet again I’d wanted to see him at the 2010 Fringe but he’s show was on later in the month and I’d already returned home.

This is classed as comedy but it is? Well there are some funny moments but this isn’t stand-up, it is a hard-hitting, in your face, engaging lecture. There’s no build up Henry just come out and talks to us.

Henry comes across as a lovely man, he tells it like it is and he’s on our side and if you drop him an e-mail you’ll get a reply – and I believe you Hank!

9pm Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells for Two

The last show of the day was a gem; this is a concert of two Australian musicians who come out onto the stage and play Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells live, which is no mean feat as I spent most of the first half of the album with my mouth open.

These guys pull it off spectacularly. There is a little bit of looping here and there but this really is live and it has to be seen. I loved it so much that I bought a DVD of the show something I’ve never done before.