Edinburgh Fringe 2015 Review: Beardyman: One Album Per Hour

lends an ear to a man both beardy and bold, as the talented performer takes on a unique live album at the requests of his audience

Image: Mick Perrin

Image: Mick Perrin

★★★★☆

Venue: Pleasance Courtyard

Using a unique rig of synthesisers, keyboards, tablets and other such gadgetry Darren Foreman (better known by the name of his act, Beardyman) pulls together an act from little else than his own stream of consciousness and the minds of his audience. Through a combination of singing, beatboxing, playing keyboards and tapping on displays, he crafts tracks using synthesisers and loops.

For his One Album Per Hour show, Beardyman constructs and improvises an album from audience song suggestions live on stage, creating a performance which is both funny and accomplished. The musical ability shown, in addition to the comic, is pretty astounding. It isn’t just that he improvises so readily, but that he does so while moving between genres: at any moment the audience is given the impression that they are just as likely to encounter house or dubstep as they are something reminiscent of blues or jazz. The complete spectrum of music delivered is given with a similar aptitude and willingness, and each track produced feels unique and entertaining.

As each song progresses it tends to follow the same course into the abstract, or an abrupt end as Foreman’s idea’s for the track run their course. This is hardly, however, a point for significant criticism; he is after all improvising and more often than not this departure into the avant-garde holds just as much opportunity to entertain as when his performance remains more structured.

The show is clever and meandering, it follows the recesses of Foreman’s mind to places which are brilliant and unexpected. Both his musical talent and his comic intuition work together to create a varied and surprisingly fluid performance.

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