Sam Shaber: Life, Death & Duran Duran

Sam Shaber

Gilded Balloon at Rose Theatre

From 02 August 2017 to 28 August 2017

Rating: *****

Review by Philip Fisher

Some Edinburgh shows catch you unawares. At face value, Sam Shaber is a rock chick who did OK but never hit the heights of her childhood heroes Duran Duran.

One element of the native New Yorker’s solo performance combines the two, as she sings her own distinctive songs, accompanied on acoustic and electric guitars, each melting into a classic from the New Romantic boy band.

However, as the title hints, there is much more to Sam Shaber than her music. She is also an adept writer and, aided by director Lynn Ferguson and some well-chosen photos, a winning raconteur.

Tales of childhood and a youngster’s determination to become a musician are interspersed with stories from adulthood, often tinged with a dark ending.

We hear about a supportive father who came from a family that expected its finest to become doctors and lawyers. He bucked the tradition to make it big as a playwright and then screenwriter.

Sam’s career was supported by Dad and also friends like Hallie and Maribel, both lovely, while the final minutes eloquently express the pain of a woman desperate to have a child but mysteriously failing.

Sam Shaber is a highly intelligent and compelling performer. Her stories aren’t always cheerful but they are moving and her music is a pleasure too.