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The Horne Section - Live at the Grand!
Published on Friday, 17 August 2012
5

5 stars

Pleasance Courtyard (venue website)
Comedy
9-22 Aug, 11:15pm-12:25am
Reviewed by Natasha Frost

 Recommended for age 14+ only.
 Free and unticketed. No pre-booking required.

Alistair is over twenty-four years old, bearded, a little on the ginger side, not pregnant, and sitting in the front row of The Horne Section. These compelling characteristics, revealed by a process of elimination, are enough to propel him into the bright lights and straight on to the VIP sofa of this late-night comedy variety show, where he is asked to choose a beat (Latin), and drummer's facial expression (mouth either open or closed). The premise is almost invariably totally silly; the execution is almost invariably totally excellent; and the combination is nothing if not superb.

Compère Alex Horne alternately marshals and provides a mouthpiece for his five-piece band - all impressive musicians in their own right - who are in turn the backing track to four guests acts from the Fringe. Tim Vine and Otto Kuhnle deserve a special mention here: the former of whom closes the show with a hysterical cover of Will Young's timeless classic Leave Right Now, while Berliner Kuhnle does utterly revolting things with ping-pong balls. The band provide live, improvised accompaniment, varying in turn from 'jazzy' to 'grandfather-themed'.

Unfortunately, the other two of four guests are for me relatively forgettable. This is in part due to the tightness and timing of the Section themselves, who easily outshine less polished or immediately absorbing performers.

As a whole, though, the evening is pretty damn close to perfect: varied, playful, intelligent, and deeply, deeply frivolous. I'd go so far as say that it might be close to impossible not to like. Audience participation is seamlessly integrated, fresh and, best of all, neither naff nor tokenistic. The Horne Section is, most of all, really very fun, in the most old-fashioned of senses. It's deeply trad, wonderfully light, and incredibly well orchestrated, if you'll forgive the terrible pun (of which there are several in the show itself).

The show opens with a mass entrance of the band on a combination of wheeled vehicles (bizarre analogue segways, a very small scooter, and, most memorably of all, a pair of pink-laced Heelies); and it finishes with a beardy love-in, where Alistair finally takes centre-stage, and Alex Horne shows off his somewhat unanticipated lizard tattoo. It's a strange and bizarre combination, set to an excellent soundtrack, and perhaps quite representative of the show in general. The Horne Section are magnificent, and the show is one not to be missed.

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These are archived reviews of shows from Edinburgh 2012.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.

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