Monthly Archives: November 2010

Review: Matt Berry @ Sound Control 24.11.10


© Paul Holmes / Lauren Taylor

On his 2005 album, Opium, Matt Berry coined the phrase: All things digested have a similar hue.  Rarely was this more in evidence than in the cozy surroundings of new-ish Manchester club and gig venue Sound Control as Berry and his band took to the small stage in the upstairs bar.

For those who have seen Berry live before, on the surface few things have changed for the current Witchazel tour.  The short but sweet setlist was fueled by old favourites from Opium and Matt’s BBC comedy shows Snuffbox and AD/BC, interspersed with tracks from the current Witchazel project, as has been the case in Berry’s shows for some time.

But scratch the surface, and the show presented was shorn of many of the gimmicks that had, for better or worse, been such a vital part of previous tours.  Yes, its true that the band arrived on stage in a variety of novelty hats, with guitarist Andy Vickery swapping a hat for a curly afro wig and a dangling penis-shaped tie between his legs.  It is also fair to say that, on the whole, Berry’s stage persona was still firmly steeped in the dashing, caddish caricature which has been his main comedic stock-in-trade since the days of Darkplace.

Yet what was on offer here was far, far tighter than the fabulous yet chaotic and scatterbrained shows of years gone by.  Berry’s new band, whilst no better or worse than his excellent former cohorts, is a much more serious affair – with Matt at the centre acting far more like the musician he likes to be, rather than the brash lampoon that many in the audience still seem to believe he really is.  Though that said, the Berry they know and love is the one he calls upon to dispel any hecklers – with a pitch perfect Mancunian whine emerging from his lips when one particular punter won’t just shut up and watch a pro at work. Read the rest of this entry


Review: Fulchfest @ Bull & Gate, Kentish Town 06.11.10


© Paul Holmes

Rich Fulcher is late.  Very late.  It’s an accident of design that could not be avoided, with Rich double booked on the other side of Camden alongside the rest of the Boosh Band.  As he struggles with taxis that decide not to hang around to pick him up, the mass crowd squashed into the miniscule back room of the Bull and Gate pub in Kentish Town could very easily have been getting impatient.  The tables and chairs are all spoken for and as the free for all mega-crush at the back of the room begins, most people have wisely opted to buy all their beer early on, rather than risk the assault course journey to the bar later.

Now any seasoned comedy fan will tell you that there is little worse at a stand-up show than an audience that doesn’t really want to be entertained, but just wants to get blind drunk and make a scene.  However, it’s clear from the get-go that the last thing on the collective minds of this audience is how to null the senses with alcohol.  They are there for the comedy, and more specifically, for one man in particular.

After a prolonged warm-up from the eccentric talents of house band Premature Ejazzulation, Mr Fulcher storms onto the stage, still dripping with the remnants of his Boosh Band make-up and still wearing the skin-tight black costume he warped the minds of Zappa fans with over at the Roundhouse just twenty minutes previously.  The crowd went wild, eager to see their favourite, deeply apologetic` American in action, and perhaps still fuelled by the adrenaline rush, Rich is more than ready to live up to their expectations – throwing sweets into the crowd and leading a fabulously sloppy audience-involving sing-a-long of disco classic Celebration.

When he is warned not to throw tampons, scissors and Metro newspapers at the assembled crowd,  Rich is joined on stage by members of The Rich Fulcher Players – which includes TVO favourite Tom Meeten.  Throughout the night, less than subtle hints are dropped that his team are malnourished, underpaid and generally mistreated… and one of them has vanished without a trace.  It’s an interesting approach which gives the night a much needed narrative strand, tying events together with the same black humour that Matt Berry’s live shows are famed for, but with a more knowing wink to the crowds as Rich and co ham it up like the best of them. Read the rest of this entry