All month I have spotted Scott Swinton, star of Karaoke Saved My Life, on the streets of Edinburgh, flyering for his show. He’s hard to miss in his starry black suit – like a disco themed Steve Martin, he generates smiles wherever he goes. He intrigues me enough to book in to see his show.
Somewhat cheesy in a kindly uncle sort of way
This is an unusual take on storytelling cabaret; that genre where a performer weaves a (usually autobiographical) tale and sings songs written by other artists that suit the moment. Here we have the expected stories but Swinton has given it a twist; the songs are to be sung by audience members in classic karaoke style. Luckily for him, on this night at least, the audience are up for a song or two. It’s a brilliant idea and so obvious that it’s surprising that this is the first time I’ve encountered this format.
A past performer with cult (and somewhat controversial) theatre company, You Me Bum Bum Train, Swinton is somewhat cheesy in a kindly uncle sort of way but is a likeable fellow on stage and very generous in his support for each singer who joins him. Unfortunately, his stories are the weak element of the show. Although some are great, the pacing feels off and could do with a little more direction. There’s also the added risk that not all the singers may be particularly talented however, tonight we get a solid cast of crooners.
I’m going to be blunt and say that, if you’re not a fan of karaoke, then this is most definitely not the show for you (but then why are you going to a show called Karaoke Saved My Life?). For those who are itching to grab the mic and belt out a power ballad, you’ll have a great night and even get the chance to say you performed in a show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.