Edinburgh Festival 2009 - Byrne's Night Leads the Fringe Festivities

Posted: 2nd August 2009
Bon Iver

Had enough of straining your cheek tendons and smile sinew while watching today's laughter crafters in a haze of whisky and cranberry shortbread? Fancy nodding your head to some serious cerebral music without embarrassing your pocket? Pull up a picnic bench and check out the allgigs guide to the very best in Fringe folk and Capital rock.

Breaking acts, as well as key players, appear in abundance this year - dig deep and you won't be disappointed:

BON IVER - The deer-roasting cabin-boy has made an astounding album with 'For Emma, Forever Ago' and is set for worldwide appreciation with his imminent 2nd album. If you failed to hear this landmark album of eerie joy and mournful glee then you should get off your backside and prepare yourself for the nape hairs rising. @ HMV Picture House, Lothian Road - Aug 18 - £15

BROKEN RECORDS - Local band who have had comparisons of Arcade Fire, Waterboys and all manner of other epic band references thrown at them by lazy journalists.....oh bugger I think I did as well....oh well. No, they really are very, very good and have astounded live audiences over the past year or so. Their 4AD album hasn't quite crossed the border, so to speak, yet they are destined for big things and bills paid with their heady mix of folk, world sounds and anthemic fervour. Do not miss. @ Queens Hall, Clerk Street - Aug 17 - £10

BERT JANSCH - Pentangle's wizard with the six-string and readily admired from Johnny Marr through to Billy Bragg for his astounding guitar-playing and heart-felt love of the craft of folk music, returns with a very special set of poems, paeans and passion of an acoustic nature. A legend worth seeing and hearing. @ Queens Hall, Clerk Street - Aug 25 - £18

ABSOLUTELY FREE LIVE MUSIC - The brilliantly named bar Whistlebinkies, hosts a brace of FREE live music nights in South Bridge. Open until the early hours, you can witness all manner of song-writing talent and open-mic nights without a care in the world for the impending sunrise outside. @Whistlebinkies, South Bridge - Everyday - Free.

POLLY PAULUSMA - Having chalked up a few sterling albums for One Little Indian, she continues her journey through life's and love's little foibles with an appearance as part of the ongoing Acoustic arm of the Festival month. Ably assisted by other similar artists, Polly is surely the main reason for sitting through the equally hard-working quartet of acts before her. @Medina, Lothian Street - Aug 11 - £7

CATHEDRAL LUNCHTIME CONCERTS - If you seek the uplifting sound of choral and hymnal interludes then this is surely for you. Take a sabbatical during every lunch-time (except Sundays) with a free and non-ticketed performance from some of the world's finest conservatoires and choirs. Every day is like Sunday for all the right righteous reasons and you can find out why at these near-daily chill-out programs. @St Mary's Cathedral, Palmerston Place

DAVID BYRNE - After his recent triumph at the Royal Festival Hall (as part of the Ether Festival), the Talking Head visits the Playhouse as part of the Eno & Byrne world tour. It is sure to be a memorable night as he weaves his way through solo, duet and band compositions drawn mainly from his successful working partnership with Brian Eno.......and watch closely as the man himself may join in with this very special Byrne's night - and of course it is only fitting since the white-haired wonder was born in Dumbarton 57 years to the good. And you may find yourself....watching a show you may never forget. @Playhouse, Greenside Place - Aug 8 - £38

EDWYN COLLINS - His illness may prevent him from strumming his beloved guitar but the man behind the finest Orange Juice this side of Florida is still railing against the crap and making great records and sketching wildlife off the coasts of North East Scotland. Death's door? Edwyn scorns the door with wit and enthusiasm and a brace of songs drawn from his back catalogue of jewels. What presence indeed. @Assembly, Mound Place - Aug 20 to 22 - £20

DJ YODA - The infamous cut-up specialist of the wheels of steel hits the Capital with his blend of mash-ups that paved the way for players and pretenders the world over. Grandmaster Flash mixed with Johnny Hates Jazz? Are you nuts? Yoda is, so why not use the force and enter the world of musical genres given a right good shoeing, all in the name of partying and having a good time. @Pleasance, Bristo Square - Aug 27 and 28 - £9

GOLDIE - The original Metalhead and junglist brings his newly-crafted re-fix of the very personal track, 'Mother, to the afterparty. The 4 hour rendition comes as a result of the popular classically-trained have-a-go TV show 'Maestro' and hours and hours of hard graft. He has ridden the waves through ups and downs yet has held his head high and here he will take you on an explosive journey via a track that has been re-invented by the brother of re-invention himself. It's a late starter (11pm) so get there early. @Pleasance, Bristo Square - Aug 30 - £12.50

Finally, 3 luminaries of the post-punk era (and beyond and before) are appearing before your very ears across Edinburgh during August.

Magazine have surely played one of the greatest hands in the game of life with their return dates during the past 12 months. I know, I was at one of them and my jaw hasn't yet re-set itself back to its aural position since the Forum gigs. One night is all it will take to remind you or introduce you to a band who have contributed to music in no other way - hated by the press in 1979, loved by the press in 2009 and barely any memorable sales at either end of these times. What gives eh? Stop reading this, go and buy a ticket and immerse yourself into an hour or two of imaginative lyrics and new-wave bluster. @ HMV Picture House, Lothian Road - Aug 30 - £25

The Stranglers just keep going and here they are going to Edinburgh. Featuring some of the most memorable punk and post-punk classics such as 'No More Heroes', 'Peaches' and 'Get A Grip' as well as the anti-pop hit, 'Golden Brown', Burnel's engineers will re-create some of their biggest (and not so biggest) anthems - can you believe that drummer, Jet Black is 70? Nope, me neither but the man can still give it some, plenty more than some of today's sad pretenders. @ HMV Picture House, Lothian Road - Aug 7 - £23

Roddy Frame may not be that much of a familiar name, but you may remember Aztec Camera from the days of Rough Trade and Rough Guides. Popular hits such as 'Somewhere In My Heart', 'Good Morning Britain' and ' Pillar To Post' may still not conjure up any memory blips but you should still go and see the man with the velvet tonsils from East Kilbride as he may well charm your pants off. His recent solo albums, 'Surf' and 'Western Skies', showed just how far this troubadour has come since the first releases on Postcard Records coaxed them into the spotlight. See him.

Both Magazine and The Stranglers' gigs are from this year's The Edge Festival, which has nothing at all to do with beanie-wearing Irish guitarists, but everything to do with the Festival Fringe, with some of the 2009 highlights being: Faith No More, The Streets, The Bluetones, Calvin Harris, Enter Shikari and the afore-mentioned Magazine and The Stranglers to name but seven. The sonic fun takes place in the Picture House, Cabaret Voltaire, Sneaky Pete's, Studio 24, The Queen'sHall and the Corn Exchange.

And finally, if all of this music has inspired you to actually buy some of it, rather than lazily downloading it from (or some other faceless download site) then check out the Vinyl Record Fair held over 2 days. All manner of waxen lovelies are displayed before your very eyes (and wallets), so get flicking and get buying those memories all over again. They sound better than files anyway. @Printmakers, Union Street - Aug 16 and 17 - £1.50 admission.

Paul Pledger