Peter Straker: Black Magic (Edinburgh Fringe)
'Straker's voice, one of the most extraordinary in British musical theatre, has never sounded better'
On his recent visits to Edinburgh, Peter Straker has delivered some stupendous Jacques Brel concerts. This time, it's rough and raw rock and roll, starting with his signature opening of "Who Killed Cock Robin?" through great songs by the Rolling Stones, Randy Newman, Pete Townsend and The Who, Roger Taylor of Queen.
Straker's voice, one of the most extraordinary in British musical theatre, has never sounded better or stronger. There's a real fibre to his falsetto, a rasp in his rubato, a velvety cream to his energetic middle range which embraces love, tenderness and despair; he ends Brel's "If You Go Away" with scary mask of neediness.
There are new songs, too, which he's written with musical director Michael Allison. One of them, "Bye Bye Baby" has an instant feel of a concert classic. And as a veteran of the first London production of Hair, he lays down "White Boys/Black Girls" with a fervour that smears all demarcation lines in sex and gender.
The show's probably playing at the wrong time of day - 6pm - and could easily be extended to 90 minutes with a short break, perhaps. But you won't see a classier, rockier cabaret all festival and, as I always say, if you've never seen Straker live, don't hang about. He's got a decent five-piece band onstage with him too, double bonus.
Peter Straker Black Magic runs at the Pleasance Courtyard until 24 August
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