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Metal talk
Pleasance Dome, Edinburgh
4th August 2014

Ian Sutherland

ian sutherland

andrew o'neill

Every August Edinburgh plays host to a plethora of festivals which have grown around the city's official International Festival over the last forty years.

The most famous is the Fringe which is the biggest arts festival in the world and altogether it means that for a month each year the population of Edinburgh doubles and a bewildering array of actors, comedians, musicians and more give something like forty thousand performances throughout the city.

Many locals hate it but personally I love this time of year in one of my favourite cities and enjoy many of the shows and the late drinking associated with the festival. Something which is usually missing from this feast of culture though is any kind of Metal. Apart from an occasional reference in music improv shows it gets ignored but not this year!

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Andrew O'Neill is one of close to one thousand professional comedians at this year's Fringe festival but as evidenced by appearances at Bloodstock, Download etc he is a self confessed Metalhead. A Fringe veteran, this time he's brought a show called unassumingly 'The History Of Heavy Metal'.

As this is a show all about Metal, inevitably our host does the set in his denim cut off with band patches, axe in hand and using a microphone on a stand festooned with black painted skulls. It is evident from the start that this is a man who loves his subject matter but is also not afraid to lampoon it. 'Metalheads like beer and er... sewing' he says pointing to his patches.

Full of energy and enthusiasm he charts his way through Metal from the dawn of the universe (yes really, he does) up to the diverse plethora of Metal styles available today. He illustrates his story by playing many of the riffs himself and adds a couple of comedy songs in addition to his engaging storytelling style.

andrew o'neill

Much of the show centres around Black Sabbath and Metallica as he has to keep the show relevant to some of the audience who may not be totally immersed in the world of Metal. By the end though there are jokes and references to Napalm Death, Sodom and all sorts of more obscure bands and many, many really funny jokes about all of them.

Edinburgh Fringe venues are notorious for fining acts which run over time and the show felt like it didn't quite fit the allotted hour and was rushed at times with a couple of parts almost missed out. In my opinion this looked to be due to the time pressures but of course as a true professional Mr O'Neill dealt with these minor glitches amusingly and had the audience on side throughout and in stitches for much of the hour.

I came to this show thinking there would be assertions about Metal history that would annoy me and possibly distract me from the comic aspect but I have to give the main man here great credit, there was very little he came up with which I would disagree with (apart from his passing inclusion of Deep Purple and boring in the same sentence) and in addition he has done excellent research so there are actually things you can learn as well as laugh at.

This is a comedy show though and while I think this show might be a difficult hour to cope with for anyone without a love of Metal already I can heartily, wholly recommend it to any Metalhead with a sense of humour. It is fun and very often laugh out loud funny. The Megadeth joke is worth the price of admission alone!

The show is on most nights in Edinburgh until August 24th with selected UK dates afterwards.


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