Skip to main content

Blurt


Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh
Sunday July 29th 2012
4 stars
In the silence, Ted Milton sits behind a microphone centre-stage and 
blows up a balloon he ties and places at his feet. With a set of 
carefully placed clips, Milton hangs up a piece of white material too 
big to be a handkerchief, too small to be a sheet. His back-drop in 
place, and largely hidden from view, he takes something from a violin 
case, and a naked Barbie doll appears bobbing above the makeshift 
curtain. “Oh, look!” says naked Barbie in Milton's squealy voice as a 
white ping pong ball on a stick appears. “A molecule!” This happens 
several times until Barbie is surrounded by molecules and Milton 
presumably runs out of fingers. A large plastic hand appears a la Terry 
Gilliam's Monty Python work and the word B.O.M.B. is spelt out as 
Milton's foot causes the balloon to explode beneath him.

As an opening gambit for an Edinburgh Jazz Festival gig, it's hardly 
Manhattan Transfer, for which we should all be grateful. As an 
introduction to Milton and his saxophone/guitar/drums power trio's 
Puppeteers of the World Unite! forty-odd year retrospective, it's also 
an insight into Milton's very singular anti-career path, be it as poet, 
puppeteer or post-punk provocateur.

As Milton folds up his hanker-sheet and puts Barbie back in her box, 
guitarist Steve Eagles and drummer Dave Aylward stumble into the show's 
thirty-two year old title track, a circular sideshow stagger given 
increasingly splenetic sheen by Milton alternating between short, 
stabbing bursts of skronky sax and a vocal that lets rip with Barbie's 
voice some more with a warning shot of “Behind you!” As tightly 
rehearsed as they are musically, Eagles and Aylward look over their 
shoulder in response to Milton's refrain.

For almost ninety minutes, Blurt's crisp, bass-free insistence becomes 
as funkily demonic as James Chance or early 1980s Ornette Coleman. 
Mapping out a back-catalogue of shoulda-been absurdist-pop hits 
declaimed with a pukkah sense of drama,  Milton's facial expressions 
contort into something that's part manic desperado, part benign elder 
statesman. Looking for all the world like a comedic approximation of 
Stewart Lee's dad, on miniatures like 'Poppycock' and 'My Mother Was A 
Friend of An Enemy of the People', such extremes meet somewhere in a 
very peculiar middle.

As Milton slow-walks his cohorts off-stage before doing an equally 
deadpan volte face for a four-song encore, Blurt's mix of European 
arts-lab vaudeville and the briskest of blow-outs is a one-off
that's quite possibly the most important booking Edinburgh Jazz 
Festival have ever made.

The List, August 2012

ends






Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Art School Dance Goes On Forever – Snapshots Of Masters Of The Multiverse

Intro – Snapshots – Deaf School

1

In 1980, the same year as the Manchester band, Magazine, released a 7
inch single called A Song From Under The Floorboards – a three verse
and chorus distillation of Dostoyevsky's novel, Notes From Underground
– an art school scandal occurred.

This scandal took place in Liverpool, and was based around a project
called the Furbelows, although it became better known in the Liverpool
Echo and other organs that reported it as the Woolly Nudes.

The Furbelows, or Woolly Nudes, were a group of artists who had come
out of Liverpool College of Art, who, dressed in grotesque woolly
costumes which featured knitted approximations of male and female
genitalia, made assorted public interventions around the city centre as
kind of living sculptures acting out assorted narratives.

The Furbelows project had been funded by what was then Merseyside Arts
Association, and, after the participants were arrested and taken to
court on obscenity charges after what…

Peter Brook – The Prisoner

Peter Brook is no stranger to Scotland, ever since the guru of European and world theatre first brought his nine-hour epic, The Mahabharata, to Glasgow in 1988. That was at the city’s old transport museum, which by 1990 had become Tramway, the still-functioning permanent venue that opened up Glasgow and Scotland as a major channel for international theatre in a way that had previously only been on offer at Edinburgh International Festival.
Brook and his Paris-based Theatre des Bouffes du Nord company’s relationship with Tramway saw him bring his productions of La Tragedie de Carmen, La Tempete, Pellease et Mellisande, The Man Who…, and Oh Les Beaux Jours – the French version of Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days – to Glasgow.
Thirty years on from The Mahabharata, Brook comes to EIF with another piece of pan-global theatre as part of a residency by Theatre des Bouffes du Nord, which Brook has led since he decamped to Paris from London in the early 1970s. The current Edinburgh residency has alr…

Romeo And Juliet - Shakespeare's Globe Comes to Glasgow

Open-air Shakepeares are a summer-time perennial of the theatre calendar, attracting picnicking audiences as much as midges. More often than not, such romps through the grass are frothy, heritage industry affairs designed to be accompanied by strawberries and cream and not to be taken too seriously. Shakespeare’s Globe theatre company look set to change such perceptions when they open their outdoor tour of Romeo And Juliet in Glasgow next week as part of the West End festival.

For the two young actors taking the title roles of the doomed lovers, it will also be something of a homecoming. Richard Madden and Ellie Piercy both studied in Glasgow prior to turning professional. Indeed, Madden has yet to graduate from the acting course at RSAMD, and, as well as facing the pressures of playing such a meaty role in close proximity to the audience, will have the added anxiety of being assessed and graded by his tutors.

“This is the end of my third year,” says Madden following a Saturday mornin…