Sunday, 9 May 2010
Apollo Vs. The Conchords
This will be a gig review in two parts.
The first part will be to describe an excellent show by the almighty Flight Of The Conchords, performing the greatest hits from their first two (and sadly, it appears, only two) TV series, along with a couple of new songs, and the kind of humorous, self-aware banter you'd expect from Bret and Jemaine. Opening the show with Too Many Dicks On The Dancefloor, they roared through a varied two hour set including classics like Carol Brown, Hurt Feelings, I'm Not Crying, Mutha'uckas, The Most Beautiful Girl (In The Room) and Bowie, climaxing with a rocking Demon Woman before returning for the inevitable encores of Business Time, Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros, We're Both In Love With A Sexy Lady, and the aural eyecandy of Suga-Lumps...
Two hours just isn't enough Conchords though - I was sorry to miss favourites like You Don't Have To Be A Prostitute, Fashion Is Danger, Inner City Pressure and Rambling Through The Avenues Of Time... but you can't have everything. The Conchords certainly found that out in Manchester... they couldn't even have a decent venue or a respectful audience.
Which brings me to the second part of this review. The Manchester Apollo. God, I hate that venue. Hate, hate, hate. I've actually resisted seeing a good number of artists and comedians live, purely because they chose the Apollo. I couldn't let that stop me seeing the Conchords, but once again that awful venue did its best to spoil the show - starting with the obnoxious bouncers who insisted on searching Louise's bag and taking her water bottle away because "you might throw it at the stage" (why don't you just be honest and say - "because we want to make you pay Â£3.50 at the bar"?), a policy that proved both sexist and inconsistent - they only searched the women's bags for contraband, so didn't even bother to check that I had a bottle in my own jacket pocket. These self-same Security-Nazis proceeded to prowl the aisles during the show, shouting at full voice at anyone who took out their phone to film the gig. "Put that away or I'll take it off you!" Longtime readers will know I have little time for audiences who watch shows through the viewfinder of a cameraphone - but I still don't want to hear burly knuckleheads bellowing like petulant teachers while the act is on stage.
That said, the audience was even worse. No matter the quality of the act, the Apollo is the sort of venue that always seems to draw the dregs of humanity. peed up slappers wandering the aisles screeching at each other, again while Bret & Jemaine were speaking. Cretins who shouted out song requests whenever the performers paused for breath. Humourless, inebriated hecklers who thought themselves funnier than the act (and were frequently proved wrong) spoiling the show for everyone else. Afterwards, I wanted to personally apologise to New Zealand's fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo on behalf of my idiotic countrymen. Hopefully the Conchords won't let this prevent them returning to Manchester, but next time guys - ANYWHERE BUT THE APOLLO!
Flight of the Conchords @ Manchester Apollo â€“ 8th May 2010
Posted by sherby57 in Comedy. Tagged: Bret McKenzie, Comedy, Dr. Angel, Eugene Mirman, Flight of the Conchords, Jemaine Clement, JLS, Manchester, Manchester Apollo.
You may remember me complaining about being unable to get tickets for Flight of the Conchords a couple of months ago (and if you canâ€™t, click here). I was gutted. But, since Iâ€™m about to write a review about their gig, I think youâ€™ll probably be able to work out that I managed to get some. Many thanks to JLSâ€™s friends for letting me have their spares. You were literally lifesavers. Not literally, but I was chuffed to be able to go.
Despite really wanting to go, I was a bit unsure how the gig would actually go. The problem with a comedy band is that youâ€™ve heard most of the songs before and so the jokes arenâ€™t going to make you laugh as much as when you first heard them. Iâ€™ve listened to their first album so much that I know many of the songs word-for-word. Would it just be like hearing them repeat â€˜garlic bread?â€™ over and over again?
Anyway, after some automotive problems, Dr. Angel and myself decamped to Manchester; both of us were mightily relieved that we were going to see New Zealandâ€™s fourth most popular comedy folk duo â€“ even though we were on the back row of the rear circle.
The show was opened by US comic Eugene Mirman, who, after a bit of a slow start, delivered some really funny material; his pointless billboards material was particularly funny. As with many support acts, much of the audience was uninterested, regardless of the quality. Iâ€™d definitely like to see Mirman again, but next time in a more intimate venue with a willing audience.
Then we got the Conchords themselves and any fears that I had were almost immediately allayed. Whatever was lost through familiarity was more than made up for in musicianship and performance. The Conchords secret weapon is that, unlike most musical-based comedy, their songs are actually really good. A particular highlight for me was the introduction of a new bit in Robots. I wonâ€™t say what it was because I donâ€™t want to spoil the surprise, but it made me literally guffaw. Apart from the songs, we also got lots of deadpan banter between Bret and Jermaine, and this provided enough new material in itself. We also got to hear a few new songs and it was pleasing to see that they had maintained their high standards.
There were a few downsides to the gig that were totally unrelated to the band. Firstly there was a particularly crackly speaker in our section that made some of the talking sections nearly inaudible. Then there were the large number of insaniacs that populated the rear circle. There was a constant stream of people getting up from their seats for much of the show, to the extent that the Doc and I were speechless in our contempt of them. To make this distraction worse was the two guys who decided to have a really loud conversation, which somehow managed to drown out the show. We were baffled. People were acting as if there just happened to be a covers band on in the corner of the pub, rather than them actually being at a highly sought out gig. Absolute idiots.
There was also a bit of a lull around halfway through the gig, and the duo seemed to get a bit frustrated with some sections of the crowd. It was difficult to tell from where we were, as it was impossible to gauge the atmosphere of the stalls, so maybe this just came across as worse than it actually was. Luckily, the boys provided a barnstorming finish and everybody went home happy.
Itâ€™s a rare act that can combine comedy with songs that youâ€™ll actually want to listen to. If you ever get chance to see the Flight of the Conchords then I highly recommend that you do. Just try and avoid the rear circle.
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