TRIBUTE acts are ten-a-penny, but few are as original, inventive and downright odd as Australia’s The Spaghetti Western Orchestra, who ride into town next week.
Armed with over 100 items - including coat hangers, bicycle pumps and a packet of cornflakes, as well as traditional instruments - its five excellent musicians perform a fistful of Ennio Morricone’s classical western scores for Sergio Leone’s movies, recreating every punch up, gunshot, and jangling spur to hilarious effect.
Formerly the Ennio Morricone Experience, the band made its first appearance in the Capital at the Fringe in 2005, earning rave reviews for their superb renditions of the themes from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, For A Few Dollars More and Once Upon a Time in The West.
But according to Graeme Leak, one fifth of the quintet, they’ve evolved into something ‘radically different’ since then. “For a while we had a an identity crisis, because we weren’t sure if we were a concert or a show or a piece of theatre,” he says. “But we’ve settled on being a concert - primarily a concert of the music of Morricone, and we play it as best as we can with the utmost respect.
“It’s the same material as before, but radically different in its presentation. Now we’ve got costumes, beautiful lighting, and good use of a cyclorama to project shadows on to.
“For those who don’t know spaghetti western music,” he adds, “I’d say it’s just an entertaining concert of interesting music and sound effects.”
As well as all the critical praise they’ve earned over the years, The Spaghetti Western Orchestra have been given the thumbs-up by Morricone himself - even though the Italian soundtrack maestro hates their name.
“To Morricone, the term ‘spaghetti western’ is derogatory,” says Leak. “It was a term of abuse invented by Americans to undermine what filmmakers were doing over in Italy.
“He was actually quoted the other day saying ‘when I hear the words ‘spaghetti western’ I stop talking. I can understand that, though in my mind it’s now a revered genre to which we pay homage.”
Spaghetti Western Orchestra, Festival Theatre, Nicolson Street, Tuesday, 7.30pm, £19.50–£26.50, 0131-529 6000