Following their success at the Fringe in previous years, folk and blues duo Brothers Broke are back in Edinburgh with a programme of two consecutive shows. In the basement of theSpace Triplex you can now watch the two musicians dissect the songs of Bob Dylan and John Lennon and then stay on to catch Sitting on a Cornflake, their show about Lennon’s musical partnership with Paul McCartney.
Following a similar format to When Judas Met John, Sitting on a Cornflake guides us chronologically through the distinct stages in the professional and personal relationship between the two songwriters. Brothers Broke transform their songs into crisp, featherweight acoustic numbers, held together by their precise, intricately-woven harmonies.
The show begins with Things We Said Today and I’ll Be Back, two tracks from 1964, when Lennon and McCartney were collaborating closely, or in Lennon’s words, ‘writing eyeball to eyeball’. Tom and Hugh Adams certainly know their stuff. Not only are their renditions incredibly well-rehearsed, but they pepper the show with interesting anecdotes about the two Beatles, telling us, for example, that McCartney recently divulged that he still turns towards an imaginary Lennon to ask ‘what now John?’ when he experiences writer’s block while working on a song.
The brothers also distinguish themselves from many other tribute acts in their thoughtful choice of songs. Instead of just the obvious hits, it’s refreshing to hear, for example, the late Beatles tracks Two of Us and Don’t Let Me Down, the duo perfectly capturing McCartney’s tender, optimistic lyricism and the strained, bluesy tension of Lennon’s impassioned love song respectively.
Sitting on a Cornflake does feel a little less involved than the brothers’ insightful commentary during When Judas Met John. Perhaps because there is simply so much history to cover between Lennon and McCartney in 45 minutes, less attention is paid to how their song-writing styles differed, or how they influenced one another.
But the music is exquisite, the performers easy-going, and with the audience joining in for a medley of the two Beatles’ solo hits, the atmosphere truly heart-warming. And after the stripped-back version of the usually highly orchestrated I Am the Walrus, which the audience are more than happy to help the brothers out with singing, you are sure to walk out of this show smiling.