Edinburgh Fringe: Luke Haines/ The Horne Section | Comedy reviews, news & interviews
Edinburgh Fringe: Luke Haines/ The Horne Section
An Auteur speaks, and comedy meets music
If the cards had fallen differently Luke Haines might have been as big as Blur. As frontman of The Auteurs he was briefly tipped for Britpop greatness, so it is no surprise that he likes the idea of alternative histories. This special show, The North Sea Scrolls, was all about them, as Haines, former Microdisney linchpin Cathal Coughlan, writer Andrew Mueller and cellist Audrey Riley mixed spoken word with punchy lo-fi melodies.
According to this bizarro version of the past, narrated by Mueller while Coughlan and Haines shared vocals, record producer Joe Meek was once minister of culture, Chris Evans was burnt at the stake and in Australia there were not just tribute rock bands, but a Tribute IRA, formed by unemployed mime artistes because the real IRA could not afford to tour Down Under.
Behind the fiction someone had clearly done their research. Haines sang plaintively of the fact that Ian Ball of Mercury Prize-winners Gomez really does share his name with the man who tried to kidnap Princess Anne in 1974. It was claimed that the mythical Scrolls themselves were rescued from a Ladbroke Grove fire in 1979 by Hawkwind, whose lead singer Robert Calvert, as Mueller smirkingly observed, was not averse to his own bouts of spoken-word whimsy.
At times it was not so much a gig, more an enjoyable reading list – if ever a concert needed footnotes it was this – but the music was effective, too. Haines thrashed at his acoustic guitar and referenced “All the Young Dudes”, Coughlan played keyboards and had an almost operatic voice and Riley’s cello added serene backbone. They looked good too, with Mueller and Coughlan sporting colonial uniforms and pith helmets, while Haines wore a white suit.
The best, however, was saved until last, with an encore of Coughlan spitting out Microdisney’s paean to pop shallowness, "Singer's Hampstead Home" and Haines countering with "Leeds United", a venomous stomp of a narrative featuring Jimmy Savile and the Yorkshire Ripper. A haunting, darkly funny night. Until tonight Bruce Dessau
Every year in Edinburgh, the question arises as to what is the best late-night show where performers go along after their gigs and busk. To which the answer this year is most definitely The Horne Section in the Assembly's Spiegeltent, the perfect venue for this “jazz performance party”, 80 minutes of music, comedy, audience participation and parlour games, as if Sunday Night at the Palladium had been revived and transplanted to George Square.
Comic Alex Horne (who also does stand-up at the Pleasance Dome during the day) is the MC, aided and abetted by a kicking five-piece band led by Joe Stilgoe (himself performing his solo show at the Underbelly), who interact with different guests each night in a sort of comedy-music improv.
Last night three performers adapted material from their Fringe sets to work with music and, considering none of this is rehearsed – it really is like jazz improvisation – it was a pretty remarkable event. Comic Ed Byrne appeared to be channelling Jack Kerouac and Kurt Cobain as he did a riff from his show at the EICC about cake over a funky beat, fellow stand-up Simon Munnery (The Stand) explained why smokers should take up the harmonica, while Beardyman (Assembly Hall) did a beatbox-meets-jazz session with the band, who can turn their hand to anything.
It's utterly daft but shows what can happen when performers loosen up and let things happen, and everybody in the room was having huge fun. The show transfers to London's West End in October. Until 27 August Veronica Lee
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