Courtesy of The Bro and Mrs Bro for Chrimble, last night I got to go and see Bill Bailey's latest live show, Tinselworm, which is currently playing at the Gielgud Theatre in London. I've been a Bill Bailey fan for many a year now - a fandom which was cemented when I first saw him live at the Broadway Theatre in beautiful, sunny, downtown Catford* and laughed so hard at his two-hour set that I was in actual physical pain at the end of it. His act combines surrealist tangents, intelligent ramblings, woodland-based whimsy and comedy songs and his musical prowess is impressive (he played around five different musical instruments in last night's show). But having seen him live twice before and having seen him re-use material the second time around, would last night's show live up to expectations?
The show got off to it's traditional shaky start as he uses the technique of not really knowing how to start a gig to ramble his way into the act. Having seen him a few times, I was a little disappointed to see him still using the same gig opening system and it took me a little while get into it. Also, the audience seemed a little bit more subdued than maybe he was used to. However, once he discovered that the audience became weirdly excited while cheering for various roads, the show started to properly come alive. By the time of interval, the laugh count was high - I particularly enjoyed the following (not being a fan of said artist):-
The mawkish piffle that is James Blunt came mewling out of the car stereo. My five year old son chimed in from the back of the car. "Turn it off, Daddy." "Why's that?", I asked. "Because it's spoiling my brain," he replied.
One noticeable difference in the act this time around was the increased amount of vitriol from Bill. Partly, I think, as a result of having spent a lot of time on a BBC comedy panel show which he didn't particularly enjoy (quote:- "There were only so many times I could hum Toxic by Britney Spears to some gormless indie pillock"), partly as he says himself in the show due his becoming less tolerant as he's got older. Regardless of the cause, it lead to some inspired rants and kept the act feeling a bit fresher.
The second half really knocked it out of the park, ending with a selection of musical encores which included Hillbilly and Kraftwerk versions of "Hallelujah", a German version of "Last Christmas" and a singalong to "La Bamba" designed to piss off everyone in the theatre next door watching Les Miserables, culminating in a short film which tied together a lot of the routines from the show.
Overall, then, Bailey's still got it and I recommend this show to anyone who's a fan of Bill Bailey or music-tinged, animal-focused, stream-of-consciousness comedy in general.
* Note for non-Londoners - heavy use of sarcasm there....