Love it or be annoyed by it, Edinburgh has three – yes – three – world famous festivals starting on Friday 7 August. International, Fringe and Book. With literally thousands of events happening seemingly in the space of a few hours, and sometimes miles apart, what should the discerning cat trouble themselves to see?
It’s a tough job but our man Lee has trawled through the programmes, lists and mountains of virtual guides to recommend five things to see this year. Here’s what he has to say:
1. Starting off-piste with a concert that isn’t part of any of the festivals named above, our top pick is The Flaming Lips, who are taking over the wonderful Ross Bandstand in Princes Street Gardens on 27 August. The Oklahoma psychedelic space warriors land for an open air show beneath the Castle. If you’ve ever seen the band live before you’ll know that this setting has just got to add to the surreal entertainment factor of their show. If you haven’t seen them before then brace yourself for dancing inflatables, puppets, glitter bombs, fake blood, Wayne walking out into the crowd in a giant ball and much more. Oh and they also play amazing music, drawing material from a 30 year back catalogue including their ‘Pet Sounds for the 90’s’ masterpiece ‘The Soft Bulletin’. http://flaminglips.com/tour
2. Staying in a vaguely musical area, 25 August sees Edwyn Collins and his wife Grace Maxwell in conversation with Ian Rankin at the Book Festival. Scottish indie legend and Postcard records posterboy, Edwyn will be talking about the documentary ‘The Possibilities are Endless’ which charts his struggle to get back his life and his music following two massive strokes in 2005. Inspirational stuff and Edwyn is never less than entertaining, I’ve had the privilege of seeing him live post recovery and the man still rocks. https://www.edbookfest.co.uk/the-festival/whats-on/edwyn-collins-grace-maxwell-with-ian-rankin
3. My personal favourite and self styled ‘the King of Edinburgh’, Richard Herring is boycotting the 2015 festival. He thinks it’s become overcrowded and over priced so he’s going to be doing all 12 of his stand up shows in London’s Leicester Square Theatre instead. This means you’ll need to get your fix of ‘Fist of Fun’ related humour from Rich’s sardonic ex-partner Stewart Lee, another favourite Fringe regular. Admittedly Lee’s almost anti-comedic delivery and sometimes cringe worthy subject matter isn’t for everyone but I love both his flights of fancy and his vituperation. Stew will be trying out material for his next Comedy Vehicle TV show, he’s on at the Assembly Rooms this year and it’ll sell out quick so move fast. https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/stewart-lee-a-room-with-a-stew
4. Juliette Binoche and Sophocles come to Edinburgh with Antigone. A new translation of the Greek tragedy starts at the Kings Theatre on 8 August. This play was a set text when I did classical studies at school and it left an impression that I can still feel after all these years. I can say the same of several of Juliette Binoche’s film roles over the years, ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being’ in particular. The opportunity to see one of the greatest actresses in the world interpret this amazing role is a chance not to be missed. http://www.eif.co.uk/2015/antigone#.VbIHOuhVhHw
5. “It’s about flasks” Ben, aged 7. This was the tag line that drew me in when browsing through hundreds of entries in Summerhall’s 2015 Festival programme. The Thermos Museum, from what I can gather, is a guided tour around the flask themed exhibition. The exhibition promises to show flasks in historical, albeit not quite accurate or serious, context. Check the video on their Facebook page to get a flavour of the tour: https://www.facebook.com/thethermosmuseum?fref=ts It’s on daily throughout the festival in the courtyard of Summerhall at 2pm and 3pm. http://festival15.summerhall.co.uk/exhibition/the-thermos-museum/