Jamie MacDowell and Tom Thum
  • By Tom King
  • |
  • 6th Aug 2013
  • |
  • ★★★★★

My favourite thing about the Edinburgh Fringe is the sheer concentration of talent in creates in the city, an array of people with skills that I can only dream of having. And occasionally people with an array of skills that I can’t even believe.

Tom Thum is one of these people - a human beatbox of such incredible skill that you can barely believe your ears or your eyes. His opening gambit is to launch into a drum and bass/dubstep medley which sounds like the work of at least three people, before whisking the audience on an around-the-world sonic adventure and finally, with the aid of a couple of sampling pads, pulling off a stunning impersonation of an entire jazz club.

These segments alone are well worth the price of a ticket but thankfully they’re not even half of the show. Obviously Thum, whilst an astonishing beatboxer, isn’t alone in his abilities. Homegrown talent such as Beardyman, or Shlomo have been fixtures of the Fringe for years. What sets this show apart is how well he works with partner Jamie MacDowell.

Singer-songwriter MacDowell is in a more traditional vein than his showmate but, even though his performance is more low-key it’s just as likely to stay with you. Self-penned songs such as ‘Bubblegum’ and the beautiful ‘Nicolette’ lift the mood in the room and provide a beautifully calm counterpoint.

The pair apparently first met four years ago when they were touring with hip-hop acrobatics show Tom Tom Club, Thum as a beatbox, MacDowell as an acrobat, but from their rapport on stage you’d think they’d been playing together since they were kids. The addition of MacDowell’s chilled vocals and poetic lyrics to Thum’s energetic beats is a joy to behold and both seem overjoyed to be performing with the other. Even when their slightly-slapdash showcraft shows through, it’s dealt with in such matey good humour that it actually adds to the mood of the show.

I really can’t recommend this show highly enough. Seeing two such talented people having great fun on stage is an absolute joy. See them now, because soon you won’t be able to get a ticket for love nor money.

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The Blurb

One is good with his fingers, the other is good with his mouth! Songwriting has never met beatboxing in this way before, their show cannot be described with words – it simply must be seen.