Gary: Tank Commander leads Usher Hall celebrations

Greg McHugh, aka Gary: Tank Commander, is heading to the Usher Hall. Picture: contributed
Greg McHugh, aka Gary: Tank Commander, is heading to the Usher Hall. Picture: contributed
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ONE of Edinburgh’s most famous venues is to celebrate its 100th birthday with a glittering comedy gala headlined by the star of hit telly comedy Gary: Tank Commander.

Comedian Greg McHugh’s camp creation will headline the Gilded Comedy Gala, organised to celebrate the centenary of the Usher Hall.

The rare live appearance by the critically acclaimed 33-year-old – who also stars in Channel 4’s Fresh Meat – is a major coup for venue bosses.

McHugh, who was born and brought up in Morningside, and attended St Thomas of Aquin’s High, said: “I am very excited at the prospect of getting to play the Usher Hall.”

The Gilded Comedy Gala is one of a five-strong Centenary Series put together to celebrate the anniversary by Edinburgh promoters Regular Music, Unique Events and the Gilded Balloon.

It will take place on Friday, March 7 and also features Never Mind The Buzzcocks team captain Phill Jupitus, Smack The Pony’s Doon Mackichan and veteran funnymen Barry Cryer and Arthur Smith, with music from up and coming local band Withered Hand.

McHugh, who received a Bafta nomination after penning the hit army comedy, added: “Having performed to rooms of only a few people in Edinburgh festivals past, Gary has finally found where he belongs . . . The Ushered Halls! Brulliant!”

Promoter Karen Koren, of the Gilded Balloon, said: “I am really excited to be part of these celebrations. I am delighted to be able to bring some Fringe favourites to the Usher Hall to demonstrate the versatility of this wonderful venue.”

Funded to the tune of £100,000 by whisky distiller Andrew Usher, the foundation stones of the Usher Hall were laid on July 19, 1911 by George V and Queen Mary.

The finished building opened on March 16, 1914, with a concert featuring music by Handel, Bach, Wagner, Beethoven and Hamish MacCunn.

Fittingly, the world-famous hall celebrates its centenary on Thursday, March 6, with a 100th birthday concert, featuring music from that opening programme.

The Centenary Series begins, however, the night before, when Regular Music presents singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright. Completing the series are Mogwai, who take to the stage with special guests The Pastels and Remember Remember, on March 8, and the world-renowned Vienna Tonkunstler Orchestra on March 9.

Launching the series, Mark Mackie, of Regular Music, said: “The Usher Hall is a hall of which the people of Edinburgh, and all of Scotland, should be, and are, rightly proud.

“Being an Edinburgh-based company, it’s a special privilege to be able to contribute to the celebrations to mark the 
centenary.”

Tickets for the Gilded Comedy Gala go on sale at 10am on Friday. Visit www.usherhall.co.uk for details.

At a glance

March 5: RUFUS WAINWRIGHT

Rufus plays a Best of Rufus Wainwright Concert.

March 6: 100th BIRTHDAY CONCERT

The Usher Hall presents a selection of music from original opening concerts.

March 7: THE GILDED COMEDY GALA

Gary: Tank Commander, aka Greg McHugh, is joined by Phill Jupitus, Doon Mackichan, Barry Cryer, Arthur Smith and others.

March 8: MOGWAI Regular Music presents Mogwai with special guests The Pastels and Remember Remember.

March 9: VIENNA TONKUNSTLER ORCHESTRA

Barry Douglas plays Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No 1