A dusty old tape reel, a borrowed camera and the Werner Herzog documentary Grizzly Man are all it takes to change a life, according to jobbing TV composer Michael Burdett.
Star rating: ****
Venue: Strange Face – Adventures with a Lost Nick Drake Recording
And he should know, because he has lived it over the past couple of years, surpassing his previous career high of co-writing the theme tune to Homes Under The Hammer with one of those gentle adventures which so often make whimsical Fringe fodder.
Strange Face – Adventures with a Lost Nick Drake Recording is whimsical in places, not unlike Drake’s music, but it is also funny, surprising, heart-warming and a right riveting story (which you can purchase, or maybe even win, at the show). Burdett is the man to tell it but for the purposes of whetting appetites, the very edited version is that he salvaged an ultra-rare Nick Drake demo at a time when the late musician’s stock was just starting to rise and decided to share the wonder with a succession of strangers (and some familiar faces) he met on a road trip round every county and region in Britain, photographing their reaction for posterity.
This was an excuse for a quiet man to make contact. And just as he shared the precious sounds with those he met on the road, now Burdett wants to share their bittersweet stories with us. Along the way, there are fortuitous encounters, bizarre coincidences, disarming digressions, unexpected revelations and a lot of rapt listeners – both in the audience and depicted in his photographs.
No particular love or knowledge of the music of Nick Drake is required, although many will be attracted to Strange Face on that premise. Billy Bragg, one of the celeb encounters featured in the show, regards Drake as a musician you have to lean in to listen to. Burdett is a similarly compelling gentle raconteur and his show is a small but lovingly formed wonder.
Until 29 August. Today 3pm.