In past years, Australian electro-cabaret maverick Tomás Ford has hectored and seduced unsuspecting audiences into his strange and euphoric world, hugging them close with his combination of freaky electronic compositions, sweet, needy charisma, and an unwavering determination that we can all get through this if we stick together.
Star rating: **** Venue: Sweet Grassmarket (Venue 18)
This year, he’s taking a different tack, offering a showcase of “the worst songs of all time” in a desperate bid for crossover success. Twitching with nervous energy, he insists “we’re gonna pretend this is the year that I make it!”
The idea was inspired by the success of Crap Music Rave Party, a club night Ford hosts (including every Friday night here at the Fringe), at which flagrantly cheesy tunes are punctuated by short bursts of manic performance. The set list for this show includes dependable floorfillers such as the Black Eyed Peas’ I’ve Got a Feeling, Kylie Minogue’s Can’t Get You Out of My Head and the Village People’s YMCA – songs that have mass appeal, even if self-described music snob Ford is obliged to acknowledge it through gritted teeth and mounting self-loathing.
But he can’t really help himself: just as his twisted wardrobe converts hi-vis workwear into bonkers couture, his delivery makes the most clichéd tunes wonderfully weird. Whether it’s New York New York or Adele’s Hello, his voice is still a soulful moan or screech; the arrangements still have his trademark wompy-buzzy-synthy-beepy feel; he still throws shapes and seems on the verge of a breakdown; the on-stage tech used to project sarcastic video messages still fights back; the audience are still dragooned into singing along or subjected to his clamberings.
It’s a Tomás Ford show, so it still has elements of a hostage situation. And it’ll still leave you grinning from ear to ear.
Until 28 August. Tomorrow 7pm