ROCK & COMEDY: Hurricane? For a real breath of fresh air, go to Edinburgh

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Indy Lifestyle Online
At least he's honest. When a journalist asked Andy Bell to sum up the music of his new band, Hurricane #1, he answered: "We take the Stone Roses dance side and combine it with the Oasis guitar angle." A refreshing change from the stance of Embrace - "Oasis? Never heard of them" - but an admission, nonetheless, that Hurricane #1 are not so much a breath of fresh air as a group who know which way the wind is blowing.

Bell's previous band, Ride, ground to a halt at the beginning of 1996 and this time around he's not taking any chances. He's observed the rise of his fellow Creation act Oasis and, noting that the secret of their success is that they sound extremely Oasis-like, he has reasoned it would be sensible to do the same. "Just Another Illusion" is Seventies heavy rock meets Seventies funk; "Mother Superior" is Lennon-inspired and proud of it; and all of the undoubtedly skilful songs are piled high with Gallagher- style guitar, guaranteed to get the kids on to the lager-sticky dance- floor of the student disco. Or, as on Tuesday night, the lager-sticky dancefloor of the London Astoria 2, which is hardly any different.

In Alex Lowe, Bell would seem to have made a more considered choice than John Squire did when selecting a lead vocalist/rhythm guitarist for his new band. As well as a meaty voice, Lowe has the right attitude for stardom. He's already been in a fight with Liam Gallagher after Liam accused the newcomer of haircut plagiarism. And, were it not for Lowe having had a career as a boxer before he decided to use amplifiers and speakers as an alternative method of making people's ears bleed, Liam might also have objected to Lowe's bushy eyebrows, heavy eyelids and swaggering "Come and have a go if you think you're laddish enough" persona - not to mention his accent. He has been compared to Rod Stewart for his rough drawl - and also because Lowe is Scottish, while Stewart, well, pretends to be Scottish. Ironically, Lowe pretends to be English: when he speaks you can believe he hails from Perthshire, but when he sings his vowels head 250 miles due south.

Hurricane #1's determination to be Oasis #2 will take them far, but it will also stop them going as far as they'd like: the secret of Oasis's success is that they sounded like Oasis before anyone else did. When Hurricane #1's eponymous debut album is released next month, the rest of us may shrug and say thanks, put it over there with the rest of the post-Oasis Britrock bands.

And now, having failed to come up with a convincing link about comedy being the new rock'n'roll, we prepare ourselves for a trip to the Fringe with a glance at Short BAC and Sides at the Battersea Arts Centre. The comedy festival's slogan, "Go to Edinburgh? Up Yer Kilt!", is a little misleading, in that all the performers involved are going to Edinburgh. This is an opportunity for them to polish up their shows before catching the train, and an opportunity for lazy Londoners to catch those shows before staying put.

Among the acts I saw this week were Ben Moor, whose monologue A Supercollider For The Family is rich in pathos, puns and particle physics, and comes from a man who could give Jarvis Cocker lessons in lankiness; and The Big Squeeze, an affable if slightly old-fashioned student revue for those who want to see Mel and Sue, presenters of Channel 4's Light Lunch, in the flesh. The high-class thesping of Geraldine McNulty and Emma Kennedy gives The Big Squeeze an extra element, but it's an element which neutralises some of the central duo's chummy chemistry.

The production I'd recommend unreservedly to Edinburgh Fringe-goers is Do You Come Here Often? by The Right Size, a double-act consisting of Sean Foley and Hamish McColl. According to their poster, they were described in the Independent as "indescribable", and I have complete sympathy for the journalist responsible.

Do You Come Here Often? is a play, or possibly a series of sketches, about two men who find themselves trapped in a bathroom, or possibly two fictional characters who find themselves trapped on a stage. At any rate, they're bound and gagged - which doesn't stop them opening with a song-and-dance number - and they spend the next 25 years, or possibly the next 75 minutes, planning their escape. On one level, it's a parody of the whole two- people-who-don't-get-on-stuck-in-an- enclosed-space genre; and, if you're the sort of person who says "on one level", you may be inclined to note the influence of Kafka and Beckett. There is enough madness and desperation in Foley and McColl's performances to prevent the show being just a stream of daft ideas, but when the stream is as fast-flowing and continuously hilarious as this one, I wouldn't complain either way.

Revelling in the flexible logic of a Bugs Bunny cartoon, Do You Come Here Often? is ingenious slapstick, and works as a showcase for the double- act's consummate physical and verbal mucking around. And, as it manages to seamlessly incorporate mime, music, conjuring, six-foot-long false beards and a hat designed to smash eggs at long range, there is almost no need to go and see any of the other shows on the Fringe. Certainly The Right Size were my first real taste of Edinburgh '97, and I shouldn't be at all surprised - or disappointed - if I don't see anything better.

The Right Size's 'Do You Come Here Often?': Stella Assembly Edinburgh Suite (0131 226 2428), to 30 Aug. The Big Squeeze: Pleasance Over the Road (0131 556 6550), 19-30 Aug.

Ben Moor's 'A Supercollider for the Family': Pleasance Over the Road Two (0131 556 6650), to 18 Aug.