Direct from Australia, John Rowe brings his sofa-based entertainment show to the Edinburgh Fringe. He welcomes us into his lounge room, complete with the aforementioned sofa, for an hour of live music, doughnuts and a special guest. The show is described by Rowe as "part band gig, part comedy, part cabaret, part game show, part late night talk show" – phew. That’s a lot for any performer to fit into an hour, and Rowe does struggle to make his timeslot fit. However, every night promises to be a little different. On the night I attend, the main focus is on the music, with John Rowe regularly picking up the mic to serenade his audience.
Rowe is an easy-going and talented entertainer
Chat shows ride on the host’s personality. Rowe is an easy-going and talented entertainer, who charms his audience into singing along with him, clapping their hands and even pretending to be seagulls. Having a live band certainly adds a touch of class and bang for your buck; his accompanying musicians are also very talented, happy to play and joke along in a relaxed fashion. This night, Rowe’s special guest is fellow theSpaceUK performer, the broadcaster Jeremy Nicholas. The two banter amiably together, mainly drawing on Jeremy Nicholas’ tenure as the announcer in FIFA games. Another segment gets us all up on our feet trying to get to grips with retro disco dancing steps, falling over each other with laughter. Rowe expertly creates a warm and convivial atmosphere that makes it feel like a house party with friends rather than a show full of strangers.
Despite the fun, there’s an air of unfulfilled potential. For example, the doughnuts could have been given away in a more game-show-like manner and the sound was sometimes unbalanced, making it difficult to hear the audience interaction over the music. With its late night slot, the show could easily have been just a little more provocative and there’s also the lingering suspicion that maybe John Rowe isn’t well known enough to carry the weight of an entire chat show on his shoulders. Although, if there’s any time for you to take a punt on someone you don’t know, then it’s during the Fringe.
If you’ve had a long day watching shows, then go along with a few friends to The John Rowe Show for some good-natured fun that is sure to end (or begin) your evening with a big grin. Arrive merry and you’ll leave elated: after all, this is your chance to grab a little Australian sunshine on the the showery streets of Edinburgh.