From Japanese punks and singing nuns to spellbinding magic shows and a Hollywood superstar in concert there’s lots to see and do in Edinburgh this month. Here are 30 suggestions to make your May a month to remember . . .
Shonen Knife (Summerhall)
Shonen Knife are a ground-breaking all-female Japanese, pop-punk rock trio formed in Osaka in 1981, when Naoko Yamana first heard late ‘70’s punk-pop, particularly The Ramones. Inspired, the band crafted their own idiosyncratic songs, fashioned brightly coloured outfits and DIY albums. They’re in the UK for the first time in 16 years and Summerhall has them. 8pm, £15, standing only.
Jason Manford: Muddle Class (Playhouse)
These days he sings, he dances, he acts, but Jason Manford hasn’t forgotten his beginnings as a stand-up. As his current tour calls at the PLayhouse, he says: “Muddle Class takes an original approach to the British obsession with class. Most class comedy is about people aiming upwards and trying to get out of the working class. Look at Hyacinth Bucket. But I’m aiming the other way. I’m trying to be perceived as working class, even though my life is now very much middle-class.” 7.30pm, £31.65-£57.65
Carpenters Story (Playhouse)
This acclaimed concert-style production recreates the classic songbook that made The Carpenters a legend in the world of popular music. The outstanding vocal talents of Claire Furley and pianist Phil Aldridge take centre-stage, accompanied by Richard Carpenter’s original orchestral arrangements from live musicians, and state-of-the-art video projection. Featuring all of the Carpenters hit songs including (They Long To Be) Close To You, Yesterday Once More, We’ve Only Just Begun, Superstar, A Song For You, Rainy Days & Mondays, and many more! 7.30pm, Tickets from £26.40.
Daniel O’Donnell (Usher Hall)
The favourite of mummies everywhere, Daniel O’Donnell is the only artist to score at least one hit in the album in the UK charts every year since 1988. And he was on Strictly If you just want to give him a big hug, this could be your chance (does Daniel O’Donnell crowd-surf?). 7.30pm, tickets from £41.25.
Illegal Eagles (Playhouse)
The World’s Official No.1 Eagles tribute returns in 2018 for another outstanding show promising more of their trademark musical prowess, acute attention to detail, and incredible showmanship. Featuring the very best from the Eagles’ repertoire including Hotel California, Take it to the Limit, Life in the Fast Lane, Take It Easy, Lyin’ Eyes, Desperado and plenty more! 7.30pm, tickets from £26.90.
Martin Simpson (Traverse)
After 35 years as a professional musician Martin is Simpson is widely acknowledged as one of the finest acoustic and slide guitar players in the world, his interpretations of traditional songs are masterpieces of storytelling. His solo shows are intense, eclectic, spellbinding and deeply moving. Here’s your chance to hear how he combines elements of British, Afro-American and old-time music into a unique sound. 8pm, £11.
8 May-9 June
If you enjoyed former Wicked star Kerry Ellis singing Defying Gravity on Jane McDonald and Friends recently but have never seen the show from which it hails, you’re missing out. A Baum-free prequel to The Wizard of Oz - the show is based on books by Gregory Maguire - it’s full of catchy numbers (although it’s extremely irritating that they insist Popular is pronounced ‘Pop-u-ah-lar’...). And yes, it’s all a little saccharine, with all kinds of excuses made as to why the eventual Wicked Witch of the East, Elphaba, isn’t bad, just misunderstood. But basically it’s a cracking show… just watch out for those flying monkeys. 7.30pm, with occasional 2.30pm shows, tickets from £25.
Edinburgh Telephone Choir 71st Annual Concert (Church Hill Theatre)
Yes, 71st! The Choir, whose members can never be accused of phoning it in, was formed in the Capital in 1947 by Mollie Scott, a supervisor in the then Rose Street Telephone Exchange. They let chaps join a few years later, and have continued to entertain audiences ever since. These days you don’t have to work in telephonic communications to sing - but if you fancy some pop tunes, traditional music, songs from the shows and light classics, remember to turn your smartphone off… 7.30pm, tickets from £11.37.
Anatomy: Finest Cuts (Traverse)
This is described as full-throttle live art cabaret: an unpredictable cauldron of mischievous performance, featuring everything from tactical action to bleak bouffon, from noise art to fart jokes, from opera to pop and ballet to biscuits. So you may need a lie down after this show from local music hall outfit Anatomy. Oh, and it contains nudity, violence, adult themes and strong language, strobe lighting and audience interaction. 9pm, tickets £9-£17.
Edinburgh International Magic Festival (various venues)
The Science Festival has been and gone so it’s over to the other end of the scale of wonders - magic. This unique live magic event for adults & children, that will leave you in a state of awe & wonderment! Highlights include the first ever Wizard World Gathering and something mysteriously referred to as The Secret Room. Various times and venues, see website for details.
Edinburgh Yoga Festival
A celebration of yoga in the city, Edinburgh Yoga Festival threatens an explosion of downward dogs, prone backbends and the odd cheeky wee lotus. Based at Serenity Cafe and yoga studios across the area, it’s not all calm… the Festival party features live music from Martha Gillespie, free seated shiatsu with Jenny White, food, tea and treats, plus dancing and chants from Kirtan Scotland. Chants your arm and more, full details at the event website.
Jay Rayner: My Dining Hell (Assembly Rooms)
Longtime Observer restaurant critic Jay Rayner examines our love affair with lousy reviews, rants about his most hated restaurants fads, lists some of some of the most excruciating nights out he’s ever had and – for balance – reads from some of the worst reviews his own work has ever received. Plus, a Q&A and book signing, so you can eat Jay’s words. 7.30pm, £21.50.
Anna & Elizabeth (Traverse)
Appalachian harmonies meet visual art, movement and experimental film as this US duo play the Capital, Elizabeth LaPrelle, lauded as the finest traditional singer of her generation, is rooted in rural Virginia and a lifetime of singing ballads. Anna Roberts-Gevalt’s musical path has led her from the kitchens of Kentucky banjo elders to sessions in Brooklyn’s thriving experimental music world. 8pm, £11.
Kathleen Turner: Finding My Voice (Queen’s Hall)
The voice is unmistakable, but did you know the Hollywood icon sings? Kathleen Turner brings her trademark husky alto to the world of cabaret with her debut show. Performing classic tunes from the American songbook, Kathleen interweaves songs including Let’s Fall in Love, I’d Rather be Sailing, On the Street Where You Live, Every Time We Say Goodbye and many more, with stories from her remarkable life and career. 7.30pm, tickets from £27.50.
Dan Antopolski: Return of the Dan Antopolski (The Stand)
The prodigal triple Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee and BBC Radio 4 regular Dan Antopolski
Is back with his eighth stand-up hour, looking at change, pain, honour and gain. 8.30pm, £9/£10.
Don MacLean (Usher Hall)
Crackerjack? CRACKERJACK! Oh, sorry, that’s Don Maclean, small L, it’s the legendary American singer-songwriter who’s in the city to share hits from his 40 years as a performer and showcase new album Botanical Gardens. Surely he should be playing Inverleith? 7.30pm, tickets from £29.15.
Ma, Pa and the Little Mouths (Traverse)
With unseen ‘little mouths’ and the belching fumes of the local refinery as a backdrop, we find ourselves in the beguiling world of Ma and Pa, who spend their time exchanging extraordinary and fantastic stories until suddenly there’s an unexpected knock at the door… With Karen Dunbar, Gerry Mulgrew and Nalini Chetty starring and Andy Arnold directing, this world premiere from award-winning playwright Martin McCormick is worth a punt. 7.30pm, £9-£17.
The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain: Heresy to Heritage Tour (Queen’s Hall)
‘The Ukes’ are masters of the unexpected, whether re-imagining folk songs, twisting classical music favourites, uncovering quirky versions of rock covers or playing the performers’ own all-original compositions. 7.30pm, £26.
Sister Act Live Choir (Usher Hall)
See comedy classic Sister Act on a large screen while a live 25-piece gospel choir and band accompany the on-screen nuns, singing hit songs from the film! As singalongs go, there’s nun better… 7.30pm, from £19.80
Nils Lofgren: 50 Years… Up the Road (Queen’s Hall)
Celebrating his 50th year of touring professionally, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, E Street Band member and solo artist Nils Lofgren makes his first visit to the UK in three years, accompanied by multi-instrumentalist Greg Varlotta. 7pm, tickets from £32.50.
Sunshine on Leith (King’s Theatre)
The King’s proudly Proclaims that the essential Scottish musical returns for the first time since 2010 in a brand-new production. 7.30pm/2.30pm matinees, tickets from £18.50.
Alpha Dance Academy: Around the World (Brunton, Musselburgh)
Need more ‘aaaaah’ in your life? Then don’t miss Alpha Dance Academy’s annual show featuring an array of talented kiddies ranging from the school’s eager three year olds to the more experienced seniors. Come along and enjoy a jam packed performance of ballet, jazz, tap, hip hop and cheerleading. 7.30pm, £13.50-£17
Echo and the Bunnymen (Usher Hall)
The Killing Moon is bound to shine as the vintage popsters bring us ‘The Stars, The Oceans & The Moon - Bunnymen Classics Transformed & New Songs With Strings & Things Attached’. How very intriguing. 7pm, tickets from £21.45.
RSNO The Planets (Usher Hall)
Mars, Venus, Jupiter…everyone has their favourite bit of The Planets. But there’s more to Holst’s masterpiece than just great melodies, as the RSNO demonstrate. 7.30pm, tickets from £12.50.
International Tango Festival (Greyfriars Kirk)
You don’t have to paint yourself orange to enjoy this celebration of the passionate dance. The 11th edition features a full roster of classes and workshops, a complete beginners class for those that want to try out the tango and steamy balls on the Saturday and Sunday. Time and prices according to activity, but £4 gets you a day pass to the Tango Cafe.
Kevock Choir 51st Annual Concert (Queen’s Hall)
The Kevock Choir enters its second half century with an awesomely varied programme of Scottish songs, spirituals, folk songs, songs from the shows and more traditional choral pieces. To mark the centenary of the ending of the First World War, the choir will also sing a medley of contemporary songs. 7.30pm, tickets £6-£14.
Edinbricks 2018: Lego model show (Potterrow Dome)
Edinbricks is a non-profit lego model show, raising funds for the Fairy Bricks charity. It’s open to LEGO fans of all ages with build zones, fantastic displays by LEGO builders, interactive displays and more. 10-30am-4pm, tickets £3, under-fives free.
A Feast of Bones (Traverse)
If you know someone aged 9-15 who likes their theatre dark, this play with music, set in the shadows of the First World War, sounds just the ticket. Under the twinkling lights of a charming French café a waitress sits polishing her knives… one cunning customer is about to be served a meal he will never forget.28th 1.30pm & 7.30pm / 29th 10.30am & 1.15pm, £8/£12.
The Blues Band: 39 Years and Back For More (Queen’s Hall)
2018 sees The Blues Band Celebrate their 39th year together. See why Paul Jones, Dave Kelly, Tom McGuinness, Rob Townsend and Gary Fletcher have survived so long at this swinging gig, postponed from 3 March. 7.30pm, £25.
Gareth Malone (Usher Hall)
TV’s favourite choirmaster curates an evening of music that matters to him, welcoming the legendary Swingles to present familiar songs as we’ve never heard them before. As well as new songs written for this tour, Gareth will introduce such classics as ‘Fields of Gold’, ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ and ‘Superstition’. 7.30pm, tickets from £29.70.