City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Edwyn Collins: A Casual Introduction Review

By Euan Andrews - Posted on 23 August 2009

Fringe 2009: Edwyn Collins
Show details
Assembly Hall
Running time: 

It feels good in here tonight, within this grand, wood-panelled chamber. The clock has just struck midnight; the audience are seated and exuding gentle bonhomie. Faint wisps of dry ice flutter from the stage, which is littered with an array of acoustic guitars as well as a set of bongos and hand drums.

The lights dim and the players take their instruments, swiftly followed by the man everyone has come to see. Edwyn Collins strides forward determinedly, a necessary stick accompanying him to maintain balance, and he perches centre stage to a rapturous reception.

"It starts - at the beginning", he tells us, and it's straight off into the early Orange Juice classic "Falling and Laughing". What better way could there be to begin? The three-strong acoustic guitar section bounces along with gusto and exuberance as Collins guides us through the next ninety minutes, delving into his extensive back catalogue.

The set mixes Orange Juice favourites with selections from his solo work, most poignantly from the recent Home Again album. While the physical effects of Collins' 2005 stroke are plain to see, his speaking between songs at times faltering and hesitant, his singing voice gains in power as the performance goes on to fully become that ripened, enunciated croon once more.

During the second half, Collins and band are joined by Malcolm Ross, once of Edinburgh's own Josef K and briefly of Orange Juice itself. He takes up position next to Collins, quipping "I thought you could use another acoustic guitar out here", and it's not long before the Assembly Hall is practically rocking out to "Rip It Up and Start Again".

It's not often one sees such obvious love exuding from the audience towards a performer onstage. As the final notes of "Blue Boy" echo into the rafters above and Collins takes his leave of us, the entire congregation rise to their feet for a standing ovation. He deserves every second of it.