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The Horne Section

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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There are plenty of late-night Fringe shows where comedians can exploit a hidden talent, but few can be more enjoyable than The Horne Section. Compered by affable host Alex Horne and held in the glorious setting of the Spiegeltent, the show features several guest acts each night, to be accompanied in their endeavours by the house band (the eponymous 'Section'). The night of this review, those guests were Canadian comic Phil Nichol, 'funniest man in France' Marcel Lucont, and pub landlord Al Murray.

Nichol fared well; he made good use of the band, challenging them to play metal and Norwegian trip-hop, and elicited an enthusiastic crowd singalong of "The Only Gay Eskimo". Lucont's low-key French arrogance seemed to miss the mark somehow, though he did succeed in crowdsurfing his way out of the Spiegeltent. Al Murray took us on a typically xenophobic trip around the world, with the aid of an inflatable globe and some extraordinary off-the-cuff musical backing by the band.

The real stars of the show, however, are The Horne Section themselves. Joe Stilgoe (piano), Ben Reynolds (drums), Will Collier (bass), Mark Brown (saxophone) and Joe Auckland (trumpet) show astonishing musical dexterity, working their way from samba tunes to the sounds of a Swiss cuckoo clock via the French national anthem. Their own, guest act-free song confessing their true musical ambition is probably the highlight of the evening.

The Horne Section have already graced The Lyric on Shaftesbury Avenue; on current form, it won't be too long before they return to the West End.

- Emma Watkins


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