Antonio Forcione and Sarah Jane Morris review Assembly George Square Venue 1 Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2016 Tuesday 22nd August


Antonio Forcione and Sarah Jane Morris at Assembly George Square Venue 1 is one of those rare musical collaborations borne out of a true emotional response to events in the world around us now that you have to put into your “DO NOT MISS” diary for this last week of The Festival Fringe.

When you put two huge talents like Sarah Jane Morris and Antonio Forcione together (amazingly working together for the first time on this project), something special is bound to happen on stage.  Sarah Jane  is a hugely gifted songwriter with one of the best blues and soul (well any style actually) voices to come out of the UK in a long time and on top of those talents brings a unique from the heart and soul performance to everything she sings.  Antonio is one of the best acoustic guitarists currently performing live, but as well as technical brilliance plays from his heart and soul too. Antonio of course is also a gifted writer in his own right.  Both performers are comfortable and secure in their respective zones, but this project has allowed both to extend that into a unique collaboration with a message for everyone that, although wrapped in beautiful music and words, has a very strong message to deliver.

Much of the music in this set comes from “Compared to What” and is a result of the response of Antonio and Sarah Jane to the unbelievably huge humanitarian crisis we now face as refugees continue to flee from war zones looking for safety wherever they can find it with often nothing left of their lives but the clothes they have on and the few possessions they may carry.  The need to flee by whatever transportation is available to you is brought into focus here in music and song, and the scenes of the tragic loss of lives as boats full of refugees sink into the seas has had a traumatic effect of both performers.

Through original music written specially for the new album such as the title track “Compared to What” we go on a journey that is at times a mixture of performance art and cinema soundtrack as cover versions of “Message in A Bottle”, “Superstition” and “Blowin’ In The Wind” are given new meaning when put into the context of this show.

I am being a little reserved here with covering some of the music played in this set for the reason that there is a message here in the lyrics of every song played and each has its own place in the larger picture, but this is something that you have to experience as an audience as you watch the show.  Giving the set list away and explaining all the connections in a review is not I think what either performer wants here. Both want their audience to experience the words and music personally and make their own understandings and judgements from that.

The overall message though is very clear “Not In My Name” – “Stop The Bombings”  no matter which side you may represent.

There are two ways to deliver a message like this – very direct and forcefully, or with subtlety and words and music at a very emotional level.  Both artists understand that the latter can be far more effective in delivering that message.

For more information on either artist visit their websites at

Also, at the end of each show, Sarah Jane and Antonio are collecting donations for

Sarah Jane Morris and Antonio Forcione were both kind enough to chat for a little while after their opening show at The Edinburgh Festival Fringe about how their new collaborative album “Compared To What” and the current show came about, and this article link is a summary of those comments

Review by Tom King

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