Craig and I have similar tastes in music, and he’s introduced me to a lot of music that I missed either because I’m in Korea, or because it isn’t well-known outside of Europe. Earlier this trip, we saw The Wedding Present in Middlesbrough at the Crypt. Of all the music Craig has introduced me to, by far my favorite is Withered Hand. One night, while planning our trip over a few refreshing beverages, we even considered hiring him for Sophie’s backyard barbecue our first night in England. We decided that might be a bit over the top, but when we heard he was performing in Edinburgh during our trip, there was no question whether we would be there.
It turned out that the show was scheduled during the Fringe Festival, but that just meant we had to stay a little further out of the city center since Fringe attendees had snapped up closer hotel rooms months earlier. We ended up at the Malmaison in Leith, which was beautiful, on the water, and secure even when we accidentally left our door ajar overnight. Whoops!
We wandered around the city center, looking for some Fringe entertainment and ended up in a room with four audience members and a crazy Korean woman singing about her immigration to the US to become a singer. Small world. Fortunately, her show only lasted about five more minutes, then it was time for the stand up we were there to see. I can’t remember the names of the three guys we say, but they were all pretty funny.
Staying in Leith also gave us an excuse to follow the Leith Walk into Edinburgh. It started basically at our door and we were able to enjoy the beauty of the river and the city at our own pace. Nice-uh! I felt a little castled out, and the Fringe crowds meant there was a crush of tourists all around Edinburgh Castle, so we gave that a miss. I fully intend to go back, though, so I was really saving it for next time. We ended up taking a city tour on one of those open-top double decker buses. It was a lot of fun, and we learned a lot about the history of the city from a guy who clearly hated every wealthy person who has ever lived there. He had a special ax to grind over the private parks in the heart of the city. I’ll grant that it seems unfair, but is it any more unfair than private ocean-front property?
Despite privileges available only to the wealthy, I fell in love pretty quickly. Craig has worked there before. In fact, he lived a short walk from the castle. I let him know (over and over) that would be quite happy for him to get a job there in the (near) future.
In the evening, we met up with Craig’s friend, Paul, and his two daughters to watch Paul Daniels, a Middlesbrough comedian/ magician before the Withered Hand show. Honestly, I didn’t have high hopes for the magic show, but it ended up being pretty good. I don’t imagine he would have been in the business for so many decades if he couldn’t entertain a crowd, though.
After the show, we headed over to Queen’s Hall for the main event. There were a couple of opening acts to get through first. Actually, Paul’s daughters were there to see the first guy, whose name escapes me, because he had been in Meursault. He was on his own, and I wasn’t impressed with his first song, but I thought he was okay by the end. Next up was another guy who usually played with Woodpigeon. Again, I didn’t think much of his first song but liked the rest of his set. A third guy came on and was just wrong. It was all electronic and didn’t fit in with the rest of the show at all. Craig and I decided it was a good time to check out the rest of the building. By the time we got back, Guy #3 was wrapping his set up. Finally! Withered Hand came on and sang most of his songs that I knew and a couple that I didn’t. It was a great show and one of the highlights of our vacation. Considering all that we did and saw, that’s saying something.