Reviews

Just in case you need to see what others think of the group before committing your hard-earned to a ticket, here are some reviews. Click on the reviews to expand them, and they will magically reveal themselves to you by the wonders of technology!


Backstagepass.biz


Written by Melissa Phillips
Published on Thursday, 8 December 2011
Performance reviewed: London Charing Cross Theatre - 7 December 2011

The ‘Cheap Flights’ tour by Fascinating Aïda has finally reached its London leg. This fabulous threesome of lovely ladies comes with a heavy helping of wit, sarcasm and a devilishly naughty dose of adult humour. Indeed, they describe themselves as “human Berrocca with Prairie Oyster and a couple of Solpadine thrown in” – which certainly gives us all something to aspire to!

The trio is made up of founder Dillie Keane, Adele Anderson and newest member Sarah Louise Young. Each one has their own distinct style and sense of humour, and they play off one another superbly between their original musical numbers. Dillie’s piano playing is breathtakingly good – sometimes doubling up as a percussionist – she moves around the instrument with ease, sometimes playing with her feet or even suspended in an upside-down yoga pose… Adele brings a gloriously innocent humour to her performance and matches perfectly with Sarah Louise’s stunning vocal abilities.

These are incredibly funny ladies but they are also immensely clever and their extensive knowledge on musical styles shines through in their compositions. We fly from Bulgarian song cycles to Hebredian folk songs and they even throw in a bit of Irish mouth music and Christian blues for good measure. One of the best moments was in their song titled ‘Lieder’ that tackles the challenging subject matter of singing out of tune in a German accent… quite an achievement!

Combined with their equally clever choreography these ladies are guaranteed to have you laughing in the aisles. It’s cabaret at its best, and there is something for everyone to enjoy. While her humour is delightfully cold you can’t help but warm to Dillie. If you get the chance go see this show – you won’t be disappointed!

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The Public Reviews


Written by Roisin Caird
Published on Tuesday, 15 November 2011
Performance reviewed: Grand Opera House, York - 14 November 2011

It may be difficult to imagine why one would want to spend an evening listening to a 59 year old woman singing about dogging with her husband. That is to say, it may be difficult unless you have had the pleasure of witnessing Fascinating Aïda, the sparklingly witty 3 part female comedy-cabaret troupe, before now, in which case the reason should be all too clear.

The line up and musical direction may have shifted since the group was originally formed in 1983 by Dillie Keane and, soon after, Adele Anderson, dark, slap-in-the-face laugh out loud comedy of the musical trio continues to prevail. From politicians and celebrities to new agers and modern artists - no one is spared from the ridicule of Aïda’s cynical satirical song writing.

Keane and Anderson, now completely at home in their roles, perform with unwavering gusto and aplomb, whilst Aïda’s newest addition to their line-up, Sarah-Louise Young, who joined the cabaret triple-act earlier this year, plays confidently to the audience, her strong soprano voice reaching every corner of the auditorium. Despite a twenty year age gap between herself and Keane and Anderson, Young rises to the daunting task of taking on a hugely successful 30-year-old cabaret comedy team with perfect ease, performing solo hits such as “One Night Stand” to great applause.

And the lineup isn’t all that’s fresh - whilst continuing to play old favourites such as “Dogging” and “Cheap Flights”, Aida are continuing to reinvent their act by experimenting with different styles of music. First we see a tongue-in-cheek techno-breakdown song “Down With the Kids”, followed by a song cycle (“A cycle of Songs!” notes Young), a series of short songs performed acapella by the trio. Arguably, these song cycles are amongst the most deliciously controversial and entertaining of the night, with lyrics so sharp they almost seem to slap you in the face as well as make you laugh.

There were some moments which didn’t work so well - much of the audience interaction felt very obviously rehearsed and fake. However, the fantastic performances and lyrical wit of Aïda more than made up for this, and I would definitely recommend the show to anyone. Provided, of course, they are not of a sensitive disposition, in which case, in the words of Dillie Keane herself “What the **** are you doing here?” A night of excellent entertainment.

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A View From Behind The Arras


Written by Roger Clarke
Published on Friday, 11 November 2011
Performance reviewed: Birmingham Town Hall - 10 November 2011

WHEN the first song gives you the “c” word you can probably take it you are not in for an evening of three gentlewomen performing Schubert’s greatest hits.

Indeed by the time of the rap inspired, get on down with the kids, yoof kulture, mother of a finale to the first half has moonwalked its way to a conclusion pretty well the whole alphabet of taboo words had been used and somehow it is done with such assurance, charm, wit and aplomb that not even a maiden aunt prone to attacks of the vapours would mind.

Indeed when you have a song about financiers and avoiders of hefty taxes along with Companies Using Nifty Taxation Systems then a taboo word seems somehow not only apt but entirely appropriate - a feeling endorsed by the rousing cheers of agreement by the full house.

Bankers and city figures would perhaps be wise to avoid proximity to ordinary people and lampposts, methinks.

Dillie Keane, the founder of the group some 28 years ago, her long standing collaborator Adele Anderson, who has only managed 27 years, and newbie Sarah-Louise Young are a sort of three woman task force to point out all that is wrong with our society - and have a jolly good laugh in the process.

For those who have never seen this particularly British creation before, Fascinating Aida are three ladies with beautiful voices who look and sound as if they have wandered out of the staffroom at Roedean to give a concert of light opera and familiar musical comedy numbers in a Sunday afternoon concert in the palm court at the local tea rooms.

Looks can be so deceiving.

What you get is a sort of Private Eye to music with some very funny patter which ranges from the Iron Man and Birmingham’s twinning with Milan, to the state of economy and HS2 along with some beautifully written, witty, biting and hard edged songs full of comment and satire on the state of the world today.

There are swipes at not only tax avoiders, bankers, and politicians, but religion, cults and fads, Tesco (a religion in itself), dogging – don’t ask – relationships, cheap air flights, German cabaret stars, modern art, Little Chef and celebrity babies.

We all know that in the busy life of a world famous sleb there is hardly time to take out a year to have a baby with all that stretching and mess – so why not buy one in or better still find a surrogate mother who will not sue, complain or sell her story such as . . . an Orangutan. The most worrying thing is that it might even be tried one day!

Cheap Air Flights, incidentally, the title of the tour, is a song written for a corporate event in Ireland which was posted on YouTube and is now running at some 7,500,000 hits. It has gone fungal according to Adele . . . Anyone who has ever travelled on a budget airline will echo the sentiments.

Interspersed with the remarkably witty and often biting numbers are some more serious songs such as the bittersweet One Night Stand and a new gentle, poignant song about laying one place fewer at the table – a song to “celebrate that we were friends”.

It is about that realisation of mortality which creeps up on you at a certain age when a toast to absent friends starts to have meaning.

HAUNTING SONGS

It is one of a catalogue of serious, often beautiful and haunting songs the trio sprinkle, sparingly, through their concerts.

It is not all fun and rapier wit though. There is an educational aspect to Fascinating Aida concerts with their traditional Bulgarian song cycle.

This is an eclectic, ethnic series of 13 songs or more – there is never a song six incidentally - about everyday life, or to put it another way, a simple way of slagging off 13 - or more - souls who didn’t manage a full song of their own this time around with the biggest cheer of the night for Tony Blair’s criminality.

We had Jordan and James Corden who would both float if dumped off a boat, Rooney’s hair, Liam Fox, Cheryl Cole, Hugh Grant, George Osborne, Paul McCartney’s marriages and more, including outgoing Greek PM George Papandreou – beware Greeks bearing debts.

With throwaway lines, songs full of wit and bite, a little sadness and plenty of laughs Aida are more than just fascinating, they are a national treasure. They are back on February 23. This one sold out and the next will probably do so even faster. You have been warned!

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whatsonnortheast.com


Written by Andy Bramfitt
Published on Sunday, 25 September 2011
Performance reviewed: Journal Tyne Theatre, Newcastle - 25 September 2011

Sunday nights have always been a bit of a bore to me.  First it was the bath & early night before school, then the lull after a fun weekend before the drudgery of work, and finally the end of Super Sunday live football with only Countryfile to keep me from bed by 9.  Last night, however I had the best Sunday night of many a year, setting the bar impossibly high to beat and in the process introducing me to an absolute gem of an act.

I must admit, I only heard about Fascinating Aida when a friend sent me a link to “Cheap Seats” on YouTube – by that time the clip had gone fungal (!), so when the chance came to go and watch them live it was with intrigue and anticipation that I arranged the tickets.

From the first minute to the last of 2 hefty encores, the 3 ladies of mirth & musical merriment delivered the upmost in comic & satirical wordplay to give Flanders & Swann, Stephen Fry, Victoria Wood, Monty Python, Mel Brooks and Richard Digance (yes I still remember him) good reason to hang up their quills, put away their pianos and accept that they have been completely usurped.  (Sorry Stephen, you’re still my favourite presenter but even you cannot match three lovely ladies on stage)

Founded by Dillie Keane in 1983 and joined in 1984 by Adele Anderson, Fascinating Aida have been successfully touring the world for over 25 years, delivering their blend of cutting satire with operatic harmonies and quint-essential devilment.  Now assisted by Sarah-Louise Young (who, by Dillie’s own admission, halves the average age of the group) we were treated to the full array of melodious mischief including songs about Dogging, the Economy (for which I daren’t disclose the title for fear of reproach by my mum), Modern Art, the aforementioned Cheap Seats and a wonderful exploration of the nuances of Bulgarian folk music.  The musical scope didn’t stop at thematic harmonies, there was Dillie’s wonderful Hip Hop omage to keeping up with the kids, Sarah-Louise’s lament for the previous nights ‘rendezvous’ and Adele explaining how to be German.

In these times of austerity and reduced disposable income, when times are bad and spirits low, when the world is teetering on the brink of a double dip, I can offer this suggestion; forego eating for a week, pass up the chance to buy those new shoes, stop the kids pocket money for a month – in fact, do anything to make sure you can buy a ticket for this show – the impact will be far reaching, the smiles long lasting and the glow of inner happiness….. who am I kidding, just go and watch 3 super talented & utterly charming ladies verge on dirty and forget your troubles for the night.

This was a night of firsts for me; it was also the first time I had been to the Journal Tyne Theatre, formally known as The Stoll.  What a wonderful theatre, full of character retaining all the charm of an old music hall and filled with the essence of hundreds of years of performing.  I doubt, however that it had ever played host to such a compelling & embracing example of cabaret which completely enthralled the audience.  A special thank you goes to Phil, the duty manager, who personally ensured that my brother & I had a very comfortable 2nd half.

Fascinating Aida The Cheap Seats Tour is showing throughout the UK for the rest of the year cumulating in an extended stay at the Charing Cross Theatre, London from 8th December to the 7th January – I will actually be booking a trip to London just to make sure I get to see the show again!

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West End Whingers


Written by West End Whingers
Published on Thursday, 1 September 2011
Performance reviewed: Gilded Balloon, Edinburgh Fringe - August 2011

[Yes, yes. Still Edinburgh. Sorry. Nearly over.]

A very late entry for this as the Whingers saw it on different nights.

We also have to declare something in our extensive (presumably surcharged) baggage: an interest.

Adèle Anderson has been saddled with an association with the Whingers for some time and has become quite adept at drawing raffles tickets at various West End Whingers’ parties. And unbeknownst to us at the time, we have also shared a stage with Sarah-Louise Young.

We can now add poor Dillie Keane to the mix as she too has also recently – and most patiently –  been on the receiving end of our bar room ramblings. Compassion, nay, pity must therefore be extended to all three of these talented songstresses.

So you can take what we say with a pinch of salt if you please. Their show Fascinating Aïda: Cheap Flights needs no assistance from us anyway, as despite the huge choice of entertainments (and playing in one of the larger venues) here, “house full” signs appeared outside every night. Quite rightly too.

“Cheap Flights” has made them an internet sensation having gone “fungal” as they describe it. If you’ve seen that YouTube video and appreciated it, then you will love this show as it indeed the tip of a very large entertainment iceberg. It jostles against stiff competition from “Dogging”and their Bulgarian song cycle which, updated regularly, still reigns supreme. Too say much more would spoil the cabaret trio’s box of delights which just seems to go from strength to strength.

An extended version of the show is arriving in London this December. Look out for it at the prosaically monikered Charing Cross Theatre, a venue that is almost far enough off the beaten track enough to be a suitable venue for Cheap Flights to land. Does Bishop’s Stortford have a theatre?

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Fringe Review


Written by Alison Pollard-Mansergh
Published on Friday, 26 August 2011
Performance reviewed: Gilded Balloon, Edinburgh Fringe - August 2011

Dillie Keane and Adele Anderson have been writing partners for more than 2 decades, and along with a 3rd member of the group (throughout the 2011 Edinburgh Festival Fringe it is Sarah-Louise Young) they form Fascinating Aida - a cabaret group who sing the most gloriously comical songs covering a huge variety of topics including some very ‘non-pc’ topics, and the audience absolutely love every minute of it … and there is a disclaimer by Dillie: “those of a sensitive disposition should leave”. Her experience on the stage shows when she trips on her words during a performance of ‘Dogging’ (an experience in itself), and she advises the audience: “Never buy teeth from a catalogue!”

A grand piano set in the middle of the stage and a couple of chairs, which are used in some of the choreography, is all that is involved with the set.  This is all that is needed, anything else would detract from the main attraction.

Until I saw this show, I had been a relative ‘Fascinating Aida’ virgin, apart from a youtube clip that has gone viral, but I have now well and truly had that cherry popped!  This group is the modern day Marie Lloyd times 3, and they are magnificent to watch.  Keane not only sings, but also plays the piano accompaniments during the 1 hour show … except for the Bulgarian folk tunes, which are of course a cappella.  Anderson and Young sing, harmonise, dance, prance … all three of them don sneakers at one point and hip-hop and rap.

Performing a song called ‘Bored’, they poke fun at our current technology and social media trends; give us indescribably sound financial advice in ‘Companies Using Nifty Taxation Systems’; and announce the performance of ‘Cheap Flights’ to rapturous applause; and then they leave us with something to cheer us through the Edinburgh winter (which has begun in August): ‘Kiss your Ass Goodbye’.

… and then of course there are the Bulgarian folk tunes, which they have had a love affair with for a number of years … but I’ll leave you to experience those when you see a show … and if you are anything like me (and everyone in the audience), you’ll be left wanting more.

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EdinburghGuide.com


Written by Irene Brown
Published on Saturday, 27 August 2011
Performance reviewed: Gilded Balloon, Edinburgh Fringe - August 2011

After having seen the glamorous trio that is Fascinating Aïda, I have to wonder how it has taken me so long to find this fabulous act. They have been performing since 1983, though with slightly changed line-ups over the years, but going by the receptive audience in the full house in the Gilded Balloon’s Debating Hall, they have a dedicated and savvy following.

In their fabulous satin sparkly trousers and velvet coats the three stepped out under the night club lights to start their cabaret of fearlessly funny and outrageously rude lyrics that their gorgeous high-heeled image totally belies.

The repertoire of these fantastic lyricists goes from a song about tax evasion involving a wicked acronym through to the self-centred One True Religion; the sensitive topic of euthanasia; a feminine view of a One Night Stand; a rap where they are Down with the Kids; the soporifically sung Boredom; the outrageously hilarious Dogging Song, and the sharply observed An Oranotang’s Having my Baby.

There were contemporary and controversial topical snatches covering the likes of the Big Society and immigration in a believable ‘Bulgarian folk style’. The eponymous Cheap Flights went down a storm following its incredible YouTube success.

In the midst of all this delicious rudeness came an incredibly poignant song about laying one place fewer at the old kitchen table when a friend is lost and the importance of laughing and crying in equal measure celebrate friendship.

These three women are intelligent, cool, professional and polished providing well crafted, no-holds-barred songs that are couched in lipstick, sparkle and glamour. They are a completely clued-up cabaret and look like the kind of women you wish you actually knew. They are Victoria Wood with the brakes off; the Tiger Lillies in lipstick and high heels so, in their own words, not suitable for “anyone with a sensitive disposition”.

Before a cheeky wee encore to Friday’s enthusiastic audience, they showed their generosity to co- writers and Gilded Balloon staff, a graceful touch for such veterans who give out the gloriously good advice in a spoof WWII cheery, chin-up song about how to deal with the tough financial times we live in that is sadly too outré for this publication.

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The Herald


Written by Marianne Gunn
Published on Saturday, 27 August 2011
Performance reviewed: Gilded Balloon, Edinburgh Fringe - August 2011

With 81 years of Edinburgh Festival experience between them, at least two members of the current Fascinating Aida trio have found box-office success later in life.

This can be attributed to one of their songs going fungal on the internet. Sorry, they mean vinyl. Oh, you know what they mean.

Cheap Flights (said viral phenomenon) pleasingly did not finish their set, as that would’ve been all too easy. The comedy cabaret stylings of Dillie Keane, Adele Anderson and newbie Sarah-Louise Young can be slightly hit and miss, but the ill-disguised diatribe against O’Leary and Ryanair seems to have captured the collective imagination – six million YouTube viewers can’t be wrong.

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