Fringe Review: Jamie MacDowell and Tom Thum

Take one sexy singer-songwriter, and a top-notch beat-boxer and you get a musical duo that are redefining musical parameters

Jamie Macdowell and Tom Thum

Rating: ★★★★☆

‘One is good with his hands, the other is good with his mouth’. As their advertising campaign suggests, Jamie MacDowell and Tom Thum are not your typical musical duo.  

Thum, who can be aptly described as a one-man-orchestra, can imitate anything from a French horn to a drunken seagull (surprisingly convincing!) 
His lyrical counterpart MacDowell is a melodic and lyrical virtuoso, wooing every female (and some males) in the audience with his jazzy, heart-felt songs such as ‘Bubblegum’ and ‘Nicolette’. MacDowell provides the melody and the words, and Thum supplies the harmonies and, of course, the beats. Together they fuse influences as diverse as jazz, folk, hip hop and drum and bass. The effect is like nothing else. 

Thum came armed with a synthesiser which allowed him to layer multiple sounds from his voice, so that the final effect is that of a six-piece orchestra set to a series of hiphop, floor-cracking backbeats – pretty impressive for one man and his voice box.

But what makes this a stand-out gig is Thum and MacDowell’s irresistible charm, entertaining the audience throughout and joking through the technical issues that plagued their set. They endeared the audience with their anecdotes and invited special guests such as beat-boxing giant Shlomo on stage for a one off jam, and pleased the crowd with their jazzy renditions of classics like ‘Fever’ and ‘I Need A Dollar’.

They are each others’ musical counterparts, not overbearing each other’s performance, but playing off each others’ talents. What’s very clear is that no two shows will ever be the same. At times their set was a little too chaotic, but their improvisation made the show feel really fresh and like a truly one off experience, in tune with the spirit of the fringe. 

Jamie and Tom are gigging at the Underbelly on Cowgate, Edinburgh, at 20.50 until 25th August. 

They will also be playing at The Southbank Centre in London from 6th to 8th August.

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