Gig review: Sharon Shannon Big Band


AS IF Sharon Shannon's seven-piece Big Band was not enough musicianship to be going on with, with their full, rock-tinged sound and subtle infusions of African rhythms, Spanish guitar, jazz violin and Bob Marley references, the likeable accordion player was hosting a couple of special guest vocalists on this outing – the Fringe's favourite cabaret star, Camille O'Sullivan, and Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan, the latter brandishing a can of lager and a rebellious cigarette.

O'Sullivan cavorted in her ruby heels, delivered fairly straight renditions of Bob Dylan's Don't Think Twice, It's All Right and I Shall Be Released and later stunned with an a capella take on Jacques Brel's classic Amsterdam.

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MacGowan's mini-set was the usual wind-him-up-and-let-him-loose affair with Shannon's band effectively just standing in for The Pogues. That said, it was enormously infectious and, thankfully, he did not waste the opportunity to duet with O'Sullivan on Fairytale Of New York.

In addition, various members of the band were pushed into the spotlight to show off their musical wares, with even the roadie pressed into service for a gruff rendition of Thin Lizzy's Dancing In The Moonlight. However, his karaoke cover of Men At Work's Down Under would have been best left for the boozy backstage jam session.

This aside, the ever genial and generous Shannon deserved credit for juggling all these disparate turns so expertly.