Raising a laugh and a lump in the throat all at once is a good trick – possibly the best. Gecko makes it look easy. A gifted young comic songwriter with charm and style to spare, his clever lyrical conceits and easy-going acoustic melodies have already won over fans including John Hegley, Ed Sheeran and Radio 1’s Huw Stephens.
One song offers what may well be the defining chorus of a generation
Gecko’s debut hour at the Fringe is hardly mould-breaking musical comedy, but what sets him above many of his contemporaries is his restlessly inventive approach to character. There are songs here in the voice of a minor figure in Veronese’s painting The Wedding at Cana, the Tooth Fairy and a panda at the Edinburgh Zoo. Donning three pairs of sunglasses, he becomes a bug living on the face the post-apocalyptic earth; there’s an environmental message to it, but Gecko’s knowing self-deprecation keeps any hint of sanctimony in check.
Tech is used sparingly, but effectively. Gecko argues with his soundsystem, and it argues back - its occasional interruptions have a hint of HAL-9000 about them. Meanwhile, a few well-chosen soundbites from recent news reports and political speeches play out over his intros and outros, offering a sharp counterpoint to the whimsical naiveté of his music, and highlighting the show’s thread of millennial anxiety. One song offers what may well be the defining chorus of a generation: “When you’re alone and out in public / for longer than you planned / take your phone out of your pocket / and just stare into your hand.”
Too young to remember life before modems, he wryly lectures the audience on recent history: “There was a time before the internet, when if you wanted to send an email you had to attach it to a pigeon.”
At times, his more sentimental material can teeter into twee, and listing the show in ‘spoken word’ rather than music or comedy is disingenuous, but these are only minor quibbles. He offers a refreshingly honest reason for appearing under the ‘spoken word’ banner: “It makes me eligible for more awards.” He deserves them.