Review: Gregory Charles: Musicman! *****

Gregory Charles is proof that you don’t need a pitch perfect voice to put on a five star show. His hour long set blew the roof off the Pleasance Dome and had the audience on their feet after a show stopping finale.

Musicman! is the product of Charles’ life-long infatuation with music of every genre, which has given him an incomparable encyclopaedic knowledge of his craft. In fact, he is so confident in his ability that he pledges to visit the house of any audience member whose song request he does not know. Given that he lives in Canada, this is a brave promise.

The show begins with Charles asking the audience to shout out a year post 1953 (when the Billboard chart officially began) for him and his band to play hits from. Mash ups, medleys and general melodies ensue as 1962, 1976, 1989 and 2004 are revisited with blistering guitar solos and the audience acting as backup singers to Charles’ growly tones.

Charles’ name may be on the posters but his stellar three piece band truly bring the show to life. They do not rehearse together, and Charles does not inform them of the requests he has been given before he plays them: they must simply jump in when they realise what the song is. This takes an incredible amount of skill, and the band are most certainly up for the challenge.

There is no denying that Charles’ music knowledge knows no bounds (he can tell you what was number one on this day 39 years ago. Seriously), but he is not word perfect on many songs, leaving the audience to fill in his gaps. For a singer not to know every lyric is pretty dangerous territory, but somehow, he makes this work.

This is definitely Charles’ year at the Fringe, and he could not be more deserving. From ABBA to ACDC and UB40 to U2, Musicman! is an hour long feel good trip down musical memory lane, and a perfect example of the sheer talent Edinburgh has to offer.




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