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7th August 2003

Mitch Benn and the Distractions *****

Razor sharp observation slickly packaged in truly funny songs.

Comic singer Mitch Benn was last at the Fringe three years ago. He said he would not be back until he had something new to say, or sing.

Now he's back, with said new material.

But he's a very different Mitch Benn. He's still very large. He still sings funny songs rich with musical references. He's still very good at parodying other artists.

However, the rough self-indulgent edges have been knocked off. His act is sharp, polished and fresh. He now has a very professional backing band (a drummer and guitarist/keyboard player).

Every song is a winner, whether it be The tale of Macbeth as told by Eminem - the first and last time you'll the words "iambic pentameter" in a rap track - or Rock'n'Roll Hall of Death, celebrating the ways in which the greats have shuffled off this mortal coil.

His vision is truly original, not many performers would choose to commemorate Adolf Hitler's desire to be a cowboy in song but he does just that in The Lonesome Fuhrer.

The one problem with Benn's set was encapsulated in his rendition of the only "old" song of the night - the anthemic crowd-pleaser Crap Shag. In previous incarnations, he's just sung it while playing the guitar. This time he and the band performed in the style of Jimi Hendrix. Very inventive, but ye couldnae hear some of the words, which is a wee bit of a disadvantage when amusing lyrics are your stock in trade.

Despite such nitpicking, this show deserves to be one of hits of the Fringe. (Stewart Kirkpatrick)
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