Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Flight of the Conchords, Birmingham NIA, 10th May 2010
The juxtaposition of small (ish) production and large venue is enough to provide comedy in itself. But this is just the basis for the Flight of the Conchords live show. Two small figures, joined only by an assortment of instruments and, later, Nigel (one man that makes up New Zealand's Symphony orchestra!) look almost bewildered by the size of the place. The intimacy this creates make you forget you are in such a large arena, instead sat in someones, albeit large, living room listening to a couple of friends bantering with you, playing you their new musical creations.
Of course, the favourites were all there: Business Time, Ladies of the World, Too Many Dicks on the Dancefloor and Hurt Feelings (amongst others). But they were injected with new life. New puns, switching old for new, or simply adding in new lines altogether. ("Ladies from the easties and from the westies / Trying to molest these beautiful testes", inserted into Sugarlumps, for example.) And, for hardcore fans, songs like Jenny and The Bus Driver's Song were surprising and welcome additions. Although, these seemed to go down well with the whole crowd.
Whilst they are ultimately a comedy duo, you can't get away from the fact that the songs are well crafted, phrased pieces of music that any conventional musician would kill to create. Utilising music from all styles, genres, even eras, they create pastiche through bricolage, rather than a clear cut parody. (Although, Demon Woman errs more towards strict parody.) Interject this with humorous observations fit for any comedy sketch show, such as the "Hilarious misunderstandings" in the song Jenny, and you have one of the most enviable, erudite acts around. Also, the banter, stories and ad lib parts of the show are what make it a true Flight of the Conchords show, for me. Reacting to audience heckles of sheep noises with "Whoever is making the noises, f*** Off. Unless you are a sheep then, Welcome" is by far the best way to deal with it. Stories of their "Rock and Roll" activities, such as having an almost close call being stuck in a lift for 5 minutes, but they had not pressed the button, remind you of the core comedy behind the act.
I don't think I have seen a more perfect performance in years. For a music and comedy lover, this was the perfect gig. Regardless of my undying love for the act, it is clear, if not from the audience reactions but the fact the tour sold out in less than 5 minutes!, that the UK has too fallen under the Flight of the Conchord spell.
Conchords in for the long haul...
May 12 2010 By Cara Simpson
NEW Zealandâ€™s popular folk comedy duo Flight Of The Conchords set laughter soaring at the NIA as part of their 15-stop tour of Europe.
True to form, Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement provided their usual winning mix of witty banter and hilarious lyrics fans have come to love and expect from the quirky full-of-beans pair.
The show featured all of their popular songs â€“ surely only they can pull off lyrics with hilarity on such subjects as a racist dragon, a medieval man wooing his lady and their racy Wednesday night â€œbusiness time.â€.
Their special ode to their hero David Bowie came to an electrifying crescendo when the off-the-wall pair tore off their casual attire to reveal sparkling Bowie-esque costumes beneath, wowing the stunned Monday night crowd.
Ad-libbed, off-the-cuff, comments to the audience proved their musical talents are steeped in stand-up style comedy prowess.
And, willing to smile at their own silly antics, their offering was littered with intelligent repartee, including laugh-out-loud rebuttals to â€œbaaâ€ sheep noises from the crowd â€“ as if they needed reminding of the New Zealand roots.
Not bad for a once obscure act who shot to fame on the UK comedy scene after being nominated in 2003 for the Edinburgh Comedy Festivalâ€™s prestigious Perrier Prize, and whose UK popularity literally took off due to their hugely successful two BBC series.
Where similar acts have crashed and burned in the past, they showed there is plenty of mileage in their original and surreal performances.
Rating * * * *
Venus wrote:He had a very intense gaze and was looking right into my eyes.
Me too. I felt that way too this time. I just saw him and had to squeeze him. I know what you mean about the intense gaze. It's awesome. So happy for you Venus.LauraK wrote:Oh girl, I was so thrilled to read that you went fangirl and threw your arms around Jemaine!
vmh wrote:Venus wrote:He had a very intense gaze and was looking right into my eyes.
Isn't it amazing? It doesn't take much from Jemaine to make girls weak at the knees. And his laugh...his laugh!
Thank you for taking the time to write that wonderful recap, Venus! As I was reading it, it almost felt like I was there. I'm so glad that the meet and greet era isn't over.
Venus wrote:The end of Sugalumps! It was hilarious to watch!
Did security take off your trousers, dawg?
Flight of the Conchords
Birmingham N.I.A. - 10 May 2010
13-05-2010 22:20 | Luke McNaney
Two dim-witted New Zealanders try to break the hip-as New York music scene as their country's '4th most popular folk parody' export. If someone would have told me a couple of years ago that this would be the making of my new favourite TV show, I would have had OMG-face. As it happens, Bret and Jemaine aka Flight of the Conchords found a home on HBO and brought musical sunshine and profundity into my life. Tickets were snapped up as soon as news broke that they would be taking a break from their resident New Zealand and the craziness of the States, where their unique brand of sonic tomfoolery has happily found huge success, and it actually feels a little bit like Christmas Day upon taking my seat at the cavernous NIA.
Despite the promise of a support appearance from Kristen Schaal, giving kooky comedy a new slant as the Conchords' sole fan in her onscreen guise Mel, she has been replaced by fellow friend of the show Eugene Mirman. Although not as integral to the show's storylines as Schaal's obsessive stalker, Eugene provided laughs as the duo's weirdo landlord and continues to make with the funnies during a twenty minute set that features enough self-deprecation, Jew references and jokes about autistic deities to inspire belly laughs even up in the cheap seats.
This ain't the Comedy Fix though, so I'll move on to our headliners, the inimitable Flight of the Conchords. Opening with the Daft Punk dance ditty Too Many Dicks (On the Dancefloor), Bret and Jemaine arrive on stage accompanied by a lightshow and purposefully rubbish robot gear (we're talking cardboard boxes on heads) and deliver this wang protest rave-up in their own unique manner: we'll call it Kiwi-style. After this upbeat intro, the unassuming pair explain the phenomenon behind their opener, that of there being too many dicks on the dancefloor, and take to their stools looking like the most unlikeliest rock stars ever. In no time, they and their guitars are wooing us with Prince-referencing The Most Beautiful Girl (In the Room) and self-pitying urban jam Hurt Feelings ('Get me a small man's wetsuit please!') and the unlikeliness continues; despite this, there are frequently declarations of love dispensed from the sold-out crowd and people are singing along. Heck, there's even a lighter held in the air for the deeply moving wakeup call Epileptic Dogs. Their onscreen characters may share the same off-the-wall ditties, but in Real Life both the personas and their creators are treated with god-like awe.
It's not hard to see why; their gentle yet dead-on ribbing of musical cliches is smart, silly, frequently hilarious and an oh-so-welcome rug-pull in a world where everything seems to have been done a hundred times before. Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros is the funniest rap piss-take you'll ever hear (sample rhyme: 'I'm the Hiphopopotamus, my lyrics are bottomless... [insert strained silence]'), while power ballad I'm Not Crying has the audience wetting their faces and pants. The duo's musical ability and melodies are not in doubt; the way they riff on musical styles as varied as Barry White come-on (Business Time) and Greensleeves-style madrigal (1353) is inspired, and their ability to alter their delivery for maximum comedic effect results in gems like the pretty comedy-of-confusions Jenny and the Parisian tÃªte Ã tÃªte Foux da Fafa ('Le coq sportif... BAGUETTE!'). The pair are joined onstage by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, aka celloist Nigel (the other two members couldn't make it) and, between themselves, often drop their guitars for drums, toy piano, and even a recorder; in the TV show, they often make hard work of plucking their guitars.
Despite their evident musical flair though, these Kiwis are primarily in the business of making people laugh and so the setup is pretty simple: funny song, funny chat, funny song, rinse, repeat. In between their musical masterpieces, the pair dispense rock 'n' roll anecdotes ('Remember that time with the complimentary muffins?') and good-naturedly heckle back an audience that seem intent on making a lot of sheep noises. Theirs is a lo-fi style of comedy, frequently dry and open to ad-libbing; indeed, at one point Jemaine launches into a reprise of Hurt Feelings when one Mel-like potential groupie bellows, 'I LOVE YOU BRET!' Perhaps the highlight of their standup act is an insanely funny - and potentially bad taste - time-travel tale where the boys dispense relationship advice to Tina Turner ('What's love got to do with it?') and then bump into David Bowie, providing setup for crowning moment Bowie, an interstellar romp that results in the twosome stripping to sparkly, spangly Ziggy Stardust catsuits. This is followed by the cock-rock excess of Demon Woman, wherein an extra dose of over-exaggerated posturing ends in the quaintest instrument-trashing ever witnessed by man.
The encore illusion was ruined earlier in the evening when Jemaine informed the audience Business Time was being kept for that most pointless of pretentious rituals, but it does give the lads time to get changed back into their Average Joe duds and the audience the chance to get even more amped up and rowdy. There are notable exceptions in the tracklist - where art thou Boom, Robots, Inner City Pressure and I Told You I Was Freaky?! - but their goodbye is as good as it could possibly be. Following early rarity Busdriver's Song, Bizarro-universe kids' morality tale Albi the Racist Dragon precedes the angry yet expletive-swerving gangsta rap of Mutha'uckers. 'Last but not least' couldn't be more apt when referring to the cherry on top: the smooth R. Kelly-esque love-battle We're Both in Love with a Sexy Lady morphs into a breakdown of the salacious My Humps-aping Sugalumps. The levels of hysteria - from lasses and grown men alike - reaches boiling point as the duo, doing their best Boyzone impersonations, jump off the stage to deliver their heartfelt ode to their own testicles to the front row; life imitates art when another over-zealous Mel-alike jumps up to dance with them and they hilariously incorporate their resultant mortal terror into the song, but it's a sign of how good the vibes are on the night when the security guard merely dances the woman away back to her seat. Bret and Jemaine eventually struggle back up to the stage, which they sheepishly admit didn't seem as high prior to jumping, and the latter's previously spangly bottom half is once again exposed as security helps him up. Any act who end their spectacular live show with the accusation that 'even security wants a taste of my sugalumps' is worthy of breaking NYC and the world besides in my eyes - and Mel's, of course. Long live the Conchords, may they continue to fly high!
Too Many Dicks (On the Dance Floor)
The Most Beautiful Girl (In the Room)
Think About It
1353 (Woo Song)
Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros
Ladies of the World
I'm Not Crying
Foux du Fafa
Albi the Racist Dragon
We're Both in Love with a Sexy Lady/Sugalumps
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