Edinburgh Fringe 2010
Former band mates from the successful Scottish band the Incredible String band, reunite to play some of the favourites that made them famous, and reminisce about the old days and their encounters with unknown or breaking musicians that we now know became icons.
The band enter. We are joined on stage by the endearingly coquettish, Edinburgh double bass player Emily Scott, in a trip down memory lane. They establish how they all came to be in the Incredible String Band in the 1960’s. Each tale involves a bizarre series of coincidences that are typical of the decade they occur in. Le Maistre was actually staying at the infamous Chelsea hotel when the complete stranger, Stringband originator Mike Heron, knocked on his door and announced that he had been invited by Malcolm’s roommate for breakfast. Their fellow performer, Stan Schnier, had done everything from managing Janis Ian to being Mick Jagger’s Gardener, and was duly fired by the king of big lips, for destroying a Christmas tree. Schnier entertained regularly with what he dubbed “wee roadie Stories”, that included being taught at art school by a very famous actors father. No spoilers here.
With the arrogance and confidence that only the young possess, fledglings, Forbes and Maistre, independently of each other, claimed to be able to play several instruments and were booked for extensive tours. On more than one occasion flying by the seat of their pants as they could in fact only play one tune on their specific instruments. Onstage tonight with 9 instruments that included, various sized guitars, mandolin and a 1938 Rickenbacker lap steel guitar, they dip into their back catalogue. They reveal the sentimentality behind certain instruments, such as the miniature guitar, retrieved from a skip, that often inspired Malcolm’s compositions.
When you go to a gig by seasoned professionals, you can guarantee you will be entertained. This sell out audience were diehard fans that sang along at every opportunity, one more prolifically than was welcome. The chatter in the queue outside was knowledgeable and the room had a definite feeling of sentimentality as songs and old friends were remembered. Genuine respect was given to the absent Incredible String Band founders, Mike Heron and Robin Williamson who are presently touring elsewhere.
Le Maistre’s, “Perfect Place”, was a sublime tribute to his experiences in Saudi Arabia, and they brought the house down with the hilarious children’s song, “Harry the Snake”. This had the added treat of seeing Malcolm Le Maistre dance. The 1960’s. They say if you can remember it, then you weren’t actually there. That urban myth is obliterated here, as despite any long lasting damage from any earlier pharmaceutical experiments, these veterans are welcome companions for a stroll down memory lane. They play the old songs with real fondness and revel in the knowing smiles of an appreciative and empathetic audience.