Andi Neate - Singing For Scotland

Fringe Fest 2011 Review

Helen Ford

Written by Helen Ford Published on 03.06.2011 15:58:26 (updated on 03.06.2011) Reading time: 2 minutes

I don´t really mind reading bad reviews but I´m not a fan of writing them. The most attentive reader is likely to be the performer and it seems churlish, imagining how hard it must be to give a live performance, to criticise someone else´s.

But the truth is, not all performances are great, at least not to everyone´s ears. Even a good singer may have their limitations.

It seems to me that Scottish singer-songwriter Andi Neate´s performance last night at Divadlo Na Prádle – Kavárna (Besední 3, Malá strana) was probably not her best work. I had looked forward to this show throughout the whole of the Prague Fringe. All the signs pointed towards her being excellent: she is historically a favourite performer at the Fringe (this is her ninth year), she has released five albums and is playing at Glastonbury this summer.  With her music described as a mixture of ‘folk, rock and jazzwith a touch of gospel´ I expected a lot.

So, how did it stack up? Well, not as well as one might hope really.

Her set included old songs and newer material (from her forthcoming album, due later this year).  Whilst she is clearly a very talented guitarist, and included a couple of lovely songs (particularly Gone But Not Forgotten and the song about, and possibly called, Coming Home, which was beautifully written) much of her set left me quite cold.  

As a technical point, Neate mainly sang in a narrow range of higher notes, whilst her voice is actually stronger in, and more suited to, lower vocals.   But more than that, I just couldn´t get excited about her lyrics. There were an awful lot of, in my view, quite trite, clichéd, lyrics about ‘sunny skies´ and ‘fluffy clouds´ and the turning of the seasons (in Circles). Perhaps this is the material you end up with if you write somewhere as weather-dominated as the Falkland Islands, but I expected something less predictable.  A significant portion of the material was a bit “hobgoblin-y”: about witches cats, dragons, towers and fairy-tales. This is obviously a personal thing, but I´m just not into D&D.      

I think the crux of the problem is that I didn´t want ‘more´ from Neate, I just wanted ‘different´.  It just didn´t do it for me.  However, as I mention at the outset, Neate tours internationally and is obviously very successful. Not my cup of tea, she has a wide and very loyal fan-base who love it.

Andi Neate is playing until June 4 at 21.15 at Divadlo Na Prádle – Kavárna (Besední 3, Malá strana).  For the full Fringe programme and further details go to the Fringe website. Tickets for each performance cost 150 CZK. Students presenting a valid student ID card are able to get cheap, last minute tickets for 50 CZK, from 30 minutes before start of the show. Advance tickets are available from Ticketstream.

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