Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017 Antonio Forcione and Sarah Jane Morris Assembly Rooms (Venue 20) Review Monday 21st August

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Antonio Forcione and Sarah Jane Morris have moved from last year’s Assembly venue at The Edinburgh Festival Fringe to the far more opulent space of Assembly at The Assembly Rooms Ballroom in George Street, and acoustically this is a far better space than last year for them to perform in.

This show is essentially a slightly updated version of last year’s show with many of the songs and music coming from the excellent “Compared To What” album.  There are still some interesting additions here though, including a solo performance from Antonio in his tribute to Henri Mancini,  “The Cool Cat”, including tonight an imaginary drummer on accompaniment.  Some people might not like improvisation at this level, but this is what attracts me to  Antonio Forcione and Sarah Jane Morris, there is always that “off the wall” element in the show somewhere – you never quite know what to expect from either.

Both Sarah Jane and Antonio are very individual performers with unique on stage performance presences, and neither will approach even a standard song straight on – neither see any point in just “covering” something.  This approach you will either love or hate, and a version of the Bob Dylan classic “Blowin’ In The Wind” certainly divided the audience tonight.  For myself, I like this version a lot as I have heard so many pale imitations of the original over the years performed by so many people.  This version though actually had a reason for its arrangements and the new sounds fitted in perfectly with the show’s main theme of people in their millions fleeing from war zones across the world by whatever means they can find, crossing land and sea, lost souls literally “Blowin’ In The Wind”.

I reviewed Antonio and Sarah Jane Morris when their show came to Edinburgh last year and I also reviewed their “Compared to What” album.  After the show, both Antonio and Sarah Jane were kind enough to take some time out and do an interview for this website, so we were able to discuss the original songs and cover versions in this show in a little more depth.  There is nothing random here, there is a theme and, unlike many, neither of these performers like to shout their message, but instead prefer to do it gently in songs and performances, and when they do this, songs like “Message in A Bottle” and “Superstition”, take on a whole new meaning.  For some reason though I don’t think that the inter connectivity of all of the music performed tonight and either that theme or its message were getting over too clearly to some audience members.

There are of course original songs here too – “The Sea” “Compared to What”, and the beautiful “Bare My Soul” were a few from tonight’s set.

Hopefully when you leave this show you will take away some of the music of Sarah Jane Morris and Antonio Forcione with you, but more than that, you will hopefully take away an important message to all who would commit acts of violence in this world – “Not In My Name”.

Review by Tom King

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