AJ Holmes: Yeah, but Not Right Now

05/08/19

Underbelly Cowgate (Belly Dancer), Edinburgh

There’s something charmingly anachronistic about AJ Holmes. Those lovely melodic flourishes on the keyboard are decidely old-school and the voice, as you might expect from the former star of The Book of Mormon, is a constant delight, soft and plaintive in the lower ranges and suprisingly powerful when he hits the high notes.

But the choice of subject matter is more unusual than you might expect. I mean, who else do I know, who’s happy to belt out a tender melody about the trials and tribulations of having a poo? Moreover, one who can effortlessly coax a roomful of people into singing the chorus along with him, resulting in me leaving the venue with the weirdest earworm EVER.

Holmes also displays an easy rapport with his audience, addressing a soulful ballad to a (clearly delighted) woman in the front row and kindling plenty of laughter with his observations about his mother and the overpowering loneliness of touring in a major production. He also experiments with a recording machine, overlaying riffs on various instruments and then multi-tracking his voice to create an angelic-sonding chorus. (Don’t worry, this is far more engaging than it sounds!)

The end result is thoroughly entertaining, and a rewarding way to spend an hour. Catch him down at the Underbelly before he packs up his keyboard and heads back to the USA.

4.4 stars

Philip Caveney

 

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