John Gibson: Tom Finlay samples the Fringe

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Back and tanned at home in Edinburgh from a month-long stint in Adelaide, pianist Tom Finlay. He was in the Fringe there, second biggest in the world after us.

He was accompanist for another native Edinburgher, 40-year-old singer Pam Lawson, who performed at our Fringe last year.

Says Finlay: “Pam sold more than half the tickets for her nightly hour-long show, which is pretty good going. She specialised in Rogers and Astaire, Gershwin and Doris Day material.

“The Australians pedestrianised several streets, converted some properties into venues . . . they put their hands up and admitted it’s a straight copy of what we do and it seems to work.

“The Scottish Government believe the Adelaide Fringe is a good idea, encouraging Australian tourists to come over here, so they’ve been involved in sponsorship.’’

Meanwhile I’ve been foraging for a snap of Mr Finlay wearing a corked hat. Plenty shots of Edith Budge in my files, though.

Got the blues

What does Chris Rea do when he’s not driving home for Christmas? Practises guitar and some day he’ll get it right.

This is your guest reviewer reporting, in jest, from the Usher Hall where the audience predictably were subjected to a blistering barrage from the lovesick maestro.

Lovesick because, plain to see, he still pines for Josephine. No way was he going to get through the night without moping over her, a past woman in his life.

And he wouldn’t dare get by without On the Beach, one of his anthems and part of his every set. The Stainsby Girls are still there and he’s still pounding that Road to Hell.

What’s rewarding, still, about a Rea gig is that it’s virtually 100 per cent the man and his excellent band. None of the hour-and-a-half squandered on chitchat.

OK, he knows where the blues come from. He’s good value. Still making those guitars sing. God knows how he does it.