Moscow Drug Club, St Andrew Square Spiegeltent **
The one-hour opening concert by the festival first-timers Moscow Drug Club on Wednesday evening proved to be a strange and slightly surreal experience. This five-piece band, whose line-up comprises trumpet, guitar, accordion, bass and vocals/percussion, doesn’t hail from Russia at all; indeed, its name apparently represesents more of a fantasy place where all sorts of exotic musical genres meet and merge.
Sitting in amongst the instrumentalists and looking like a cross between a circus ringmaster and the (fully clothed) burlesque queen celebrated in the song Strip Polka, Canadian singer and percussionist Katya Gorrie made an appealing host, and her easy charm and the laidback set-up on stage gave the proceedings a party feel. Indeed, on several of the numbers, notably Istanbul (Not Constantinople) and the stand-out Strip Polka, there was definitely a singalong potential.
The trouble was that so much of the programme was taken up with vintage novelty songs which don’t necessarily merit being revived. Peggy Lee’s dreadful The Gypsy With the Fire in His Shows, written for a Tony Curtis western, and Two Guitars, a Russian folk song with disappointing English lyrics by Charles Aznavour, were just two of the numbers which made you question this band’s taste in material – and wonder if they had turned up at the right festival. Moscow Drug Club would appear to be much better suited to the Fringe.
Jacques Brel’s Jacky brought Gorrie’s Norma Desmond-like theatricality centre-stage but a funereally-paced and surprisingly un-atmospheric Dance Me to the End of Love killed off any hope of Leonard Cohen saving the day.
* First published on HeraldScotland on Thursday, July 21st