Friday, 9 August 2019

EDINBURGH FRINGE REVIEW: A Rock'n'Roll Suicide! at the Zoo Southside


Edinburgh Fringe is full of a wide range of shows and performers of vastly different experience and talents all of them hoping to make that break through into fame and success from their Fringe performances. With 3500 shows it is a competitive world and many will have stories of what might have been. One artist, Lee Mark Jones has put his whole life story on stage in a incredibly raw autobiographical performance at the Zoo venue. He calls it a Rock and Roll suicide and in the course of a powerfully honest 50 minutes we begin to see why.

It is of course a tribute to his music hero, David Bowie, especially in his Ziggy Stardust incarnation and the tone is set when he enters the stage to "There is a star man" although he undermines himself immediately by apologising for the mistakes that will follow. We learn that this Kidderminster lad made his stage debut in a hail of spit and bottles in 1976 as part of the punk era but was deeply hurt by the death of his younger sister shortly afterwards. Tragedy and musical fresh starts seem to be the story of his life. 

He tells of his life forming bands, touring in support of big names, of failed music contracts and mistakes he has made. He seems to have no regrets but a deep sense of sadness of what might have been . When he tells us that late in life he was diagnosed as having ADHD it seems to offer an explanation for much of his life decision. He name drops frequently the bands he has supported, most notably the fabulous Ramones and the heavy metal group MotorHead whose lead singer Lemmy he seemed to know well. For those who like me grew up in the same era talk of the Marquee club, Susie and the Banshees and Blondie resonate well. I still recall seeing Susie and later the Ramones at Barberella club in Birmingham in the seventies. 

He acknowledges where the power lies in the music business and the role luck plays but leaves you with a clear impression that he has not had his fair share of luck and this session is therapeutic for him as well as informative and challenging for the audience. This is a show that would benefit from a bit more direction and better video screen so that we can fully appreciate the constant stream of video playing behind him and a slightly slicker switch to his alter ego Death who helps comment on his story. 

However for a raw meaningful exploration of fame, aspiration and music industry this is a show worth supporting and many of these performing at the fringe would benefit from his story as well. We all wish him well.... it is never too late to succeed.

Review by Nick Wayne 

Rating: ★★★★

Seat: unreserved | Price of Ticket: £10
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