Content Warning: Discussions of Domestic Violence and Gender-Based Violence
Billing themselves as Dundee’s “loudest band per capita”, Fever Peach arrive at EdFringe with a pop punk, off-beat deep-dive into personality, romance, gender, and living together in a campervan with no running water. With brash dynamism and veracity, Scotland’s leading Romani poet Scott Redmond and Northern Irish guitarist-comedian Andy Bullick deliver a fast-paced, foot-stomping blend of spoken word and music. Nobody leaves this piece without a beaming smile on their face, as we flit from crowd-pleasing covers of noughties indie rock to intense beat poems about gender-based violence.
The pair keep our sensitivities in mind as we drift through an eclectic selection picked from the minds of two young musicians at the forefront of bold and intersubjective creative expression. The themes covered are often introduced by Scott as a way of forwarding a conversation that includes the audience – with some mild audience participation driving a sense of nuance and appreciation that avoids the pre-supposed feeling of the inward-looking nature of live poetry. We are invited to take part in the raucous and raw nature of the whole affair, offering our own input into songs and poems to deliver a semi-improvised effect that is transcendent, warming, and rip-roaringly crisp.
Discussions of gender-based violence, gender affirmation, working class upbringing and how those concepts mesh into personhood are refined and poignant throughout. Both of the raconteurs lean on each other at just the right moment – they appear an unlikely double act at first but their clear affection for one another shines through in camaraderie and support when it’s needed. It adds nuance to the wide range of themes discussed that the two can joke so comfortably about each other’s backgrounds – for Scott, as a genderfluid working-class poet, the facets of his identity are laid bare, and in the moments where she expresses her vulnerability we have Andy to help draw personal experience that is as touching as it is cheeky.
Scott is not afraid to take the piss out of Andy either, and the dedication of a whole song about Andy’s love of tall women shines as a moment of hilarious connection. Donning crown and glittery blazer, the juxtaposition in visual style reflects back off their work – just as extensive and diverse as their appearances, with Andy dressed casually for the whole affair. The pair command the space over the hour, making it their playground with frivolous fancy. It’s enjoyable to see them mould the place, the audience, and the themes they touch into something really composite, wide-ranging and impressive.
Poetry elements within the piece are deliciously mixed with Andy’s raw and fresh guitar riffs, which range from improvised melodies for Scott’s spoken word pieces to full-blown original songs. The concept is melded together by the personalities of both, who never let up for a moment. Both Andy and Scott deliver fantastic vocal performances, though Scott’s rhythm is more finely-tuned in his poems than the songs. Andy is on beat throughout, and even through a couple of broken strings he keeps up pace without losing the support of the audience at any time. The slipshod anarchic energy of the whole thing felt deeply inviting to me – though may be one of the more contentious elements of the show depending on who comes to watch. With some tightening up here and there, a few of the gags that got lost may find their way back toward clarity and resonance with the audience.
Even amongst a small audience on the day I attended, the brash and supersonic overtones of the piece were not lost on me. I was drawn in throughout by the outrageous and outlandish tone of the writing, which was complimented by the overwhelming sense of care that both performers put in to their set. While the topics on show range from the more serious that I’ve already discussed, we’re treated to an improvised song that sees a visit to the Zoo. It’s silly, but shows that nothing is off-limits for the pair and the audience are brought in by the immense passion and heart that underlines an hour of eclectic chaos. The hour absolutely flew by, and without knowing what might come flying out of their mouths yet you’re never bored. All I’ll say about the encore is that nobody in our audience left the room without singing along, and as I say at the start, without a smile on their face.
Raw, resplendent and delightfully intoxicating – this is a genre-bending crossover event for the ages.
Recommended Drink: Intense Goblin Nightmare Woman is a Buckybomb of a show – toxifying and energising all at the same time.
Catch Fever Peach: Intense Goblin Nightmare Woman until August 27th at Just The Tonic at the Caves – Just The Wee One at 20:20. Tickets are available through the EdFringe Box Office.