Lizabett Russo & Sink, Pianodrome, Royal Botanic Gardens – Edinburgh

Friday 24th August, 2018

A venue built out of old pianos. In a botanical gardens as part of an international festival of arts. In Edinburgh. Well you can see why I wanted to go, it was just weird enough to be absolutely up my street.

When I say built out of pianos I really mean it. Piano lids repurposed as handrails, pianos hollowed out and stacked on top of each other, backing boards and lids carved up and used as the floor, seats and everything else. With a number of playable pianos dotted inside, which during the day people were encouraged to play, and at night became part of the performance.

We were greeted with the words, “drinks are available under the lime tree and would you like a cushion?” so we knew this wasn’t going to be a standard gig! Sitting almost on the floor, with only about 100 others, in the round, the smell of the wood in my nostrils, I knew this was going to be a memorable night.

Our American hipster compare was very funny (and dapper, he wore his suit well) and brought on Lizabett Russo who was accompanied by Graeme Steven on guitar. She was eccentric in a loveable way and possesses a haunting voice that she uses sparingly to tell allegorical songs about politics and love. If you like traditional music, folk, or quirky artists and get a chance to see her I don’t think you would be disappointed. The spooky quality was enhanced by the sound of the rain falling on the roof of our temporary venues, adding an extra dimension to the sound. As did being in the round, we small audience could see each other and feed off the reactions and expressions. This was helped by a very cute small girl being opposite who was colouring in and completing her sticker book, the babe in arms who wouldn’t go to sleep and a lot of open and eager faces. For the final 2 tracks, one romantic and one more lively, Lizabett was joined by Sink and that sounded even better.

There was a short interval, where we did indeed have drinks under the lime tree and I purchased a one off hand printed Pianodome T shirt (more to keep warm than anything, it had turned quite cold). We were offered blankets, another gig first, and huddled up waiting to hear Sink come back on.  Which they did. Usually a trio, tonight they were a quintet with the fine addition of drums and bass. I liked the double bass player, he had a crushed velvet suit and bright green shirt on. The violinist wore trousers made out of old ties and was barefoot. The sax/clarinetist was clad like a Victorian circus showman. There was an accordion and drums to boot. What was not to like about this so far? Nothing. They played folk jazz, with punk elements, weaving in and out of the space (each other, and us in the audience) while never missing a note. It was playful, vibrant and strange. All things I love in life and music. Elements may have been improvised, I cannot be sure, and there was as much laughter on the stage as off it. Sink were clearly having a lot of fun sharing their music with us and that is an infectious feeling.

As an introduction to the Edinburgh Fringe I couldn’t have asked for much more.


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