Edinburgh Festivals Magazine

The Magnets

The Fringe can sometimes seem to be a bit of a desert where music is concerned. Between the tawdry titillations of cabaret singers and the earnest folk of, well, folk, there stretches a wasteland only enlivened by The Edge Festival’s big name, one- or two-night acts.

That’s where The Magnets come in, a welcome burst of colour and fun in the big purple cow.

Opening with a rowdy mash-up of Caledonia by Dougie MacLean and Are You Going to Go My Way? by Lenny Kravitz, with a touch of Fat Boy Slim thrown in for the sheer hell of it, this charismatic group of six a cappella rascals display levels of wit and confidence, as well as brilliant vocals, that soon have toes tapping and hands clapping.

From Bowie to Gaga, there’s a song to suit every age and taste, and even Beyonce’s pop nonsense Sweet Dreams is somehow made fresh and resonant, with lyrics like “tattoo your name across my heart” rendered achingly meaningful. One particular treat is the best version of A-Ha’s Hunting High and Low I’ve ever heard, far outstripping the original and making me wish I could buy it immediately on iTunes. 

Of course, all the lush harmonies and upbeat, clever arrangements would be left unsupported if it weren’t for the incredible beatboxing skills of Andy ‘Ice Man’ Frost. He, as every year, blows the audiences’ minds with a solo of fearsome skill. It seems completely impossible that, with only a voice and a microphone, one man could summon up the whole range of John Bonham’s famously huge drum kit plus a healthy side-order of electronica that would make 808 State proud, but somehow Frost manages it.

A rousing chorus of Are We Human? by The Killers and a well-deserved standing ovation rounds off the show, leaving the audience with the satisfied feeling of having watched something completely original pulled off with consummate skill. Perfection. 

Udderbelly’s Pasture, 5-30 Aug (not 16), 5.25pm