Cabaret & variety review: Bill Martin: The Stories Behind the Songs

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Edinburgh Festival Fringe: As Bill Martin freely admits, he is not a household name.

The Dome (Venue 287)

***

But his songs are – especially those from a globally successful late 1960s/early 70s run of Eurovision winners (Puppet On A String), football anthems (Back Home) and boy band pop (the Bay City Rollers’ immortal Shang-A-Lang to Kenny’s The Bump).

A songwriter in the old school tradition, he cut his teeth on London’s Tin Pan Alley and still measures the success of a song in sales, taking as much pride in a novelty record like I Was Lord Kitchener’s Valet as the more sophisticated pop of My Boy, recorded by both Elvis Presley and Richard Harris.

The Stories Behind the Songs is more after-dinner speech with audio-visual display than formal scripted show, featuring cheesy banter, naff jokes, shameless namedrops, acerbic assessments of Sandie Shaw (“a nightmare”), Cliff Richard (“great guy, can’t dance”), Kenny (“useless”) and Bono (“gets right up my nose”) and embroidered anecdotes he has told many times, but all carried off as only a mischievous man in a gaudy sports jacket can.

Fiona Shepherd

Until 27 August. Today 8:15pm.