Strange Face – Adventures With a Lost Nick Drake Recording

Music has a way of providing the most honest portrait of a person, be it someone listening to an opera in the Royal Albert Hall or someone moshing in the belly of Bannerman’s, music always manages to discover the most intimate aspects of anyone.

The lack of any actual Nick Drake may be a disappointment for some, but that would be missing the point of what is a fantastic show of photography, music, and above all else, people.

Michael Burdett’s spoken word performance of Strange Face is similarly revealing. Despite the lack of any Nick Drake music in the show, the storytelling ability of Burdett alongside the terrific portrait photographs that are beamed onto the wall by a projector are more than enough to totally engage the audience with what is an exceptionally interesting story.

Honesty, however, is probably the best policy. I have history with Nick Drake, he’s one of my all-time favourite musicians and I would wish, more than anything, to hear the lost recording that the photos personify the emotions of. But it doesn’t matter if you have never heard of Nick Drake, Burdett’s wordsmithery immediately draws you into the Nick Drake story, with his brief synopsis of Drake’s life giving even the most passionate of Nick Drake fans an extra insight.

Burdett has also got impeccable comedic timing, and while this is definitely not a comedy show, there are enough laughs throughout for the audience to not be completely bowled over by the melancholy that so often comes with anything surrounding what has always portrayed as an infamously morose Drake.

The main body of the performance – selected stories of the people who were randomly selected to hear the lost recording – are as beautiful as it is revealing, and each story manages to fully replicate the emotion that person felt while listening to the song.

The show is truly enthralling, despite the slightly cheesy music choice at the start and end, and offers a supremely mesmeric description and insight into the life of Nick Drake, and into the life of the people who listen to Nick Drake. For a free show, it is without doubt worth your time, and with the majority of the bucket contributions fundraising for musical therapy charity Nordoff Robbins, any money that is put towards it goes towards an excellent cause.

The lack of any actual Nick Drake may be a disappointment for some, but that would be missing the point of what is a fantastic show of photography, music, and above all else, people. 

Reviews by Conor Matchett

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The Blurb

Michael Burdett’s award-winning one-man show charts how he found a lost Nick Drake recording and chose to share it in an extraordinary way. Michael travelled the length and breadth of Britain offering strangers an exclusive opportunity to hear the recording. Humorous and poignant, Strange Face celebrates life, coincidences and the legacy of singer-songwriter Nick Drake. And, in an age when music is shared so casually, Strange Face proves the value music can bring to our lives. Awarded DarkChat's Best Free Fringe Show at Edinburgh 2014. Daily at lunchtime.