Pleasance, Edinburgh
August, 2001

*** Graham Fellows' unsettling new character

The man behind John Shuttleworth returns in the persona of a frustrated music lecturer. Technically brilliant, but patchy and disturbing.

Two years ago Fellows signalled his desire to give middle-aged Yorkshire songwriter John Shuttleworth a rest by introducing Appleton, a character embittered at not receiving the recognition due to him for accidentally having created many of the seminal moments of rock history, from inspiring Rod Stewart to write "Maggie May" to provoking David Bowie's notorious "fascist salute" in 1976. It was a wonderful show for rock "anoraks". These stories are alluded to, but not told in full, in his new show, in which Appleton, with a tape recorder and a digital home studio, records his new album in front of us and teaches us the tricks of the trade along the way.

It's an extremely cleverly assembled show, with a final number which includes all the samples he has recorded during the previous hour, but the combination of Appleton's more downbeat character (at one point he attempts to kill himself with sub-bass frequencies) and the technical detail limit its appeal somewhat: it shows off Fellows' technical genius, but in an oddly muted and sombre light.

Written for

Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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