Gig review: Stephen Lynch, Edinburgh

With no profile to speak of in the UK press, US comedy musician Stephen Lynch has nevertheless sold out sizeable venues on successive tours here, thanks to his songs’ proliferation across YouTube.

Musical comedian Stephen Lynch

Stephen Lynch - The Picture House, Edinburgh

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This may explain his complacent stop-start opening, in which he impersonated The Proclaimers and Simple Minds in a cod-Scottish accent, before over-indulging in banter with his backing band (banjo player Charlie King, folk singer Courtney Jaye and longtime collaborator Rod Cone), till one frustrated crowd member spoke for all when he howled “play the f***ing songs!” Thankfully, Lynch soon got everyone back on side. Craig, the tale of Jesus’ ne’er-do-well brother, is delivered like a straight rock tune these days. But his sublime miscegenation love song Vanilla Ice Cream remains testimony to the arch, lyrical wit he’s capable of.

He can claim his Dear Diary ditties are mocking human hubris rather than dead celebrities. But the ongoing popularity of Special Ed, in which the laughs are charmlessly aimed at a mentally handicapped friend, grows harder to defend with each passing year. Equipped with good looks and an angelic voice, bad taste and political incorrectness have served Lynch well. But newer tracks like Lorelei and Queer Tattoo revisit familiar ground.

Considerably better are the duets with Jaye, with the excellent The Night I Laid You Down, about losing their virginity, eschewing crudity and shock for a hilarious pastiche of misty-eyed nostalgia.