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I'm With the Band (Edinburgh Fringe)

Tim Price's new musical at the Traverse is a satire of the Scottish independence debate

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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Various topics, or song titles, are flashed up during Tim Price's story of the meltdown of the Union, an indie rock band that has an English lead singer, a Scottish lead guitar, a Welsh bass and an Irish drummer.

These tracks include "The Financial Crisis," "An Independent Scotland," "How to Love the French" and "Hell is an English Garden."

This last is accompanied by a scene of doom and destruction as the fractured foursome writhe around in their underpants, fight among each other and commit serious instrument and sound equipment abuse.

Trouble has started when the Scotsman, the senior partner who's had enough, wants out. But the band's unseen manager has run up an unpaid VAT bill of millions, the drummer's marriage is on hold and the bass player is suffering from serious loss of self-esteem.

The metaphor of sticking together (or not) in all of this is a bit strained, but Hamish Pirie's uncompromising production, and Price's songs, with highly charged, scratchy, screechy guitar-based music by Gordon McIntyre (lead singer with the Edinburgh band, ballboy) is certainly, well, noisy and heartfelt.

Everything happens in the recording studio, fulfilling the writers' wish that the four musicians are never quite in a song, never quite in a play. Their performances, though, are tremendous, led by James Hillier's decision-making English lead singer, with Andy Clark as the defecting Scot, Declan Rodgers the aggressive Ulsterman whose sex life is graphically renewed, and Matthew Bulgo's initially docile, extremely hairy Welshman.

I'm With the Band continues at Traverse until 25 August (not 12, 19)