Twonkey Variety Night, 16 Dec 2011: Review

*****

Friday December 16th 2011. A Twonkey variety night, come Christmas knees up at The White Horse which is a restaurant / bar in Edinburgh with a back room where the show took place. Numbers were limited and I’d say the evening turned out just right. Every seat / standing space was taken. It was no Cold Beryl, no sirree.

Interviewed during the Edinburgh Festival about his musical and comedy talents, Vickers claimed he would work well as a Des O’Connor type. I thought it was a nice gag, but now I’m not so sure it isn’t a genuine ambition. As a singer/comedian/compere he was just great, helped by the fact that the acts were a hoot. Between the seven additional acts, Vickers gave us snippets of, perhaps, next year’s Twonkey’s Kingdom.

We were treated to some new Vickers’ songs, some new skits (the theme of ‘knickers’ loomed large), extracts from The Pub Guide for Pricks and some pub quiz answers. Twonkey’s Kingdom is shaping up well.

The first act was the biggest mystery of the night. ‘Terry from Leeds’ was billed as a jazz poet. Can’t speak with any authority on that subject, but is it in the spirit of jazz if it’s being read from a sheet? I found him on myspace listed mysteriously as ‘dion’. Sadly he got the worst of the audience too who talked through his entire set. (‘Granny Crumble’ also faced a difficult audience but as a comedy act ‘she’ could at least fight back within those parameters).

The next special guest was Steven Vickers, Paul’s brother, who normally performs under the name Victor Pope. Like Vin Diesel (Mark Vincent) he has transposed a version of his surname to his new first name, and gave himself a cool new surname – he’s the king of the paedos! It quickly becomes apparent that the Vickers family had two large helpings of talent to give out. But, tragically, just one helping of hair. Still, as Mr and Mrs Milliband would say, ‘better that than the other.’

I enjoyed all of his songs and have done some digging to see if there’s a CD. I can’t find any mention of one, so hopefully he’ll be performing at next year’s Fringe with some on sale. Like his brother, the tracks are amusing but work first and foremost on a purely musical level. Even in such a small setting as the White Horse, he sounded magnificent helped in no small part by live percussion accompaniment. I’m tempted to say that I could relate to ‘New York City Suicide’ by claiming to have lost a dear friend to just those circumstances. With the final twist being that my friend was Mohammed Atta. But it’s not that kinda blog and I’m not that kinda guy.

Granny Crumble was the next act. As mentioned, she had a bit of a bad crowd to contend with who had wondered in from the bar. But other than that, she gave good set.

Steven Vickers performed another mini song cycle before Adam Mitchell took to the stage. An old fashioned gag merchant, the slot went down well. Come on now.

Richard Hanrahan was next, good material in something of a Richard Herring vein. Or maybe that’s just subconscious coz they’re both Richard H’s and probably contemplating the Atkins.

The most typical act of this variety night was Sunderland’s own Reg Anderson. One liners, balloon animals in the shape of balloons, etc, and one of the most popular of the evening.

The final act was Hamish Hawk – he who is credited as co-writer of Vickers’ crowd pleaser Hot Beryl. The massive shock is that Hamish doesn’t look old enough to get served half-beer-half-lemonade, never mind the half-beer-half gin concoction he is making famous! Indeed, earlier when Twonkey was looking for a lady to pick up knickers, Hamish was the closest match. ‘A young boy is as good as a lady’ said Vickers, advice everyone who’s been to Asia will be familiar with. It was a tremendous performance (Highlight: ‘I’ve never been to New England…’ – no idea if it was a cover or what). Again, I’d like to know what he’s doing with himself (live? CD?) and would definitely go see him perform in a heartbeat. EDIT: You can download an EP of Hamish’s from here: http://hamishjameshawk.bandcamp.com/album/the-right-amount-of-blue

And then we were at an end. As Vickers mentions he’s about to finish, almost the entire room shouts for Hot Beryl. And our Christmas wish was granted. A perfect end to a great night. Train fares from London and a hotel cost me £165 just for this show. And that’s before the bar bill! It was worth every penny. Huge thanks to Mr Paul Vickers – a genius in his own lifetime –  and all of his celebrity guests. Bring on August 2012!

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