Notes about Edinburgh

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  • I must have walked up and down this street, and countless others like it, dozens of times over the weekend.  It would explain why my calves are squealing in agony today.
  • As Marcus Brigstocke observed, Edinburgh is a city where you can set out to go somewhere and walk uphill, and on the way back to where you came from you somehow still find yourself walking up a hill!
  • Log fired haggis pizza.  That is all.  Once I discovered the existence of this it was pretty much all I ate.
  • I feel like I’m saying this an awful lot lately, but going to the Fringe alone made me really crave the company of another person.  I mean, I kinda like the freedom of doing things by myself, but I can’t help but think that there were so many great things I might have missed because I didn’t have the input of someone else.
  • David O’Doherty’s song about how Lance Armstrong ruined his life between 1999 & 2005 was probably my highlight of the weekend.
  • Starting drinking at 11.30 on a Sunday morning was both a novelty and a bad idea.
  • From my strictly non-scientific research, I would gauge that the majority of festival-goers are not Scottish.
  • Probably the best thing about the Fringe is accidentally discovering something great, especially when the act looks completely bonkers.  In The Banshee Labyrinth on Saturday evening I saw “Rythmn Method”, which was a group of comedic musical poets comprising of The AntiPoet and Mark Niel – with the latter apparently being the official Poet Laureate of Milton Keynes.  They turned out to be very enjoyable Saturday evening entertainment, despite their appearance.
  • Avenue Q was well worth the wait.
  • Having thought about it, I now think that Edinburgh is less like Lord of the Rings and more Game of Thrones.
  • I can’t believe I’m almost 30 and had never done a weekend at the Edinburgh Festival until now.  I’m already looking forward to next year.

Brendan Benson @ Electric Circus, Edinburgh

“This is fucking awesome!” exclaimed Brendan Benson somewhere around the midway point of his set in the crammed Electric Circus on Saturday night.  This was the last night of his European tour and, as he explained, sometimes the last show can be a difficult one:  you’re tired and your mind is already thinking about the flight home and the chance to see your family for the first time in weeks.  There was no evidence of end-of-tour fatigue here, though, as Brendan and his band were on fine form before a boisterous Edinburgh crowd.

The Michigan native is perhaps best known for his collaboration with Jack White in The Raconteurs, and the two Raconteurs songs played on the night – Hands and set closer Steady, As She Goes – were arguably the most eagerly received, however there is much more to Brendan Benson than The Raconteurs and this was a set packed with punchy rock songs.

Songs like Good To Me, What Kind of World, Cold Hands (Warm Heart) and What I’m Looking For kept the audience captive and encouraged regular chants of “there’s only one Brendan Benson!”, which seemed to humour the front man, while a solo acoustic trio in the encore showcased his softer side.

Everything about Brendan Benson is infectious:  his voice, his lyrical style, his appearance and his enthusiasm, and it made for an extremely enjoyable night.  Electric Circus was an excellent wee venue too.  Although it was packed it never felt like a crush, the bar set-up was top-notch and there was never a lengthy wait for a drink.  All in all a fine night in Edinburgh.