Review: Songs on Film with Joe Stilgoe

As Joe Stilgoe's growing fan base will already know he is a brilliant pianist. He's funny, handsome, charming and sings like a dream. He also writes his own material. In short he's disgustingly talented. Lucky for us he's at the Edinburgh Fringe with Songs On Film: fifty minutes of cinematic merriment. The show begins with Joe chatting over a vamp setting up the show with anecdotes and the occasional musical reference. Engaging though it is, after fifteen minutes I was aching to hear a song performed in full. It finally came with a refreshing, original reading of Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head.

This is a beautifully crafted set. Like word association, one song leads seamlessly into the next. Nothing jars and before we know it he's taken us from Groundhog Day to Snow White to Arthur to his own composition Popcorn. The Pixar section complete with balloons was especially touching and the mood changed beautifully with the lads downstage-centre for a memorable acoustic medley.

Even with such a rich source of material to mine Joe knows that ultimately the show's success relies on his personality. His anecdotes and banter keep us involved and though I would have enjoyed a few more songs, there's no doubt Joe is an engaging entertainer.

The band (the Checkpoint Cinematic Symphony Orchestra) comprised of Tom Farmer at the bass and Ben Reynolds at the drums. They clearly enjoyed every minute of the show providing backing vocals, horns, whistles and costume changes. Like true professionals they know they're not just there to play the dots - they are part of a show. They keep the focus on Joe when necessary and ham it up for comedic effect at all the right points.

Joe takes us towards the finale with his trademark mashup of audience requests improvising the words and music of Feed The Birds, Moondance, Brief Encounter and at least three more. He is brilliant and of course the audience is left begging for more. Naturally he obliges with a raucous homage to Bugsy Malone and an unexpected Footloose.

I can't wait for the sequel.