Birmingham - May 10 - Tour stop #6

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Egbert Nobacon
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Re: May 10 Birmingham - Tour stop #6

Postby Egbert Nobacon » Tue May 11, 2010 4:22 pm

There is a lovely review of the show in today's Telegraph:

Flight of the Conchords at the Birmingham NIA, review
Once describing themselves as 'New Zealand's fourth most popular folk-parody band', the Conchords treat the Midlands arena to their brilliantly deadpan comedy

By Dominic Cavendish
Published: 3:22PM BST 11 May 2010

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High tech, Kiwi-style: Bret and Jemaine embrace the digital age

Thank heavens for this emergency comedy rescue package from New Zealand, just landed in the UK. At a time when all most of us can do is look on in dismay, disbelief and outrage as the post-election settlement devolves into something between cock-up and stitch-up, the need for light relief, and a distraction from the slings and arrows of outrageous politicking, could hardly be more pressing.

I have to confess that when I first encountered Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement back in 2003 on the Edinburgh Fringe, I loved the concept - “formerly New Zealand’s fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo”. And I relished the jokes, as this slacker pair expertly sang and strummed their way through ingeniously irreverent pastiches of instantly recognisable popular song genres. They were laid-back, dead-pan, and cool in their knowingly nerdish fashion, but all the same, I couldn’t quite see where they were going to go with it: in its own way, it felt curiously one-note and niche.

Two immensely accomplished series for HBO - which planted their lo-fi act in the fleshed-out scenario of two Kiwi no-hopers trying to “make it” in New York - demonstrated that the Conchords have the comic mileage necessary to become a globe-trotting success. Even though this new touring show sheds the appurtenances of the sitcom, reverting to the unplugged rock-gig format of their earlier appearances, there’s an ingrained confidence about the partnership now that takes the whole thing to another level.

In Birmingham, the between-songs banter between the bearded good-looker McKenzie and the taller, grumpier-looking Clement is pricelessly understated - as they trade non-anecdotes about life on the road (“We got stuck in the elevator! We hadn’t pressed the button!”) and gently chide inaudible hecklers. The songs themselves, though, are the real marvel - with their subtly embedded storylines and fine-tuned lyrics spiking everything from the vanity of rap and the empty rhetoric of the protest number (“They’re killing each other with knives and forks!”), to Bowie, heavy metal and the formulaic conventions of the 70s love-track, most brilliantly in their unashamedly suburban take on Barry White, “It’s Business Time” (“Conditions are perfect for sweet weekly love”).

After 90 minutes, my only hope, given the sorry brevity of this stop-off, was that all flights out of the country will be cancelled because of further volcanic ash disruption and they’ll be forced to stick around, lay on some extra gigs, and perk us all up.

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I have to agree with the final sentiment, although those outside the UK will not!:
After 90 minutes, my only hope, given the sorry brevity of this stop-off, was that all flights out of the country will be cancelled because of further volcanic ash disruption and they’ll be forced to stick around, lay on some extra gigs, and perk us all up.

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LauraK
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Re: May 10 Birmingham - Tour stop #6

Postby LauraK » Tue May 11, 2010 4:31 pm

:D

I may not agree with that sentiment but I get it! :thumb:
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Re: May 10 Birmingham - Tour stop #6

Postby kellysouthpaw » Tue May 11, 2010 5:00 pm

I definitely don't agree! :tsk: I have two dates with those boys on the 29th and 30th and I fully expect them to be there. Or else I will swim there by kayak and retrieve them MYSELF :nod:

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Re: May 10 Birmingham - Tour stop #6

Postby Venus » Tue May 11, 2010 5:50 pm

Gosh, I've been writing up my account of the show and it's a flippin' essay! You all have been warned. :lol:

In the meantime, here's another review from Chortle:

Flight Of The Conchords 2010 tour
Live Review
Birmingham NIA

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This can’t be right. Flight Of The Conchords TV series revolves around their abject lack of success. Yet here they are, selling out arenas in minutes, being reviewed by serious rock critics and attracting adoring fans who scream out requests. Can their delicate comedy of modesty survive such phenomenal success?

Thankfully, it can. They play Birmingham’s NIA – one of just a handful of British gigs the Kiwi duo are performing this year – with the same intimacy as the small bars they played at the start of their career. Indeed, sometimes the sense of scale only adds to the joke, as their supposedly ribald tales of rock-and-roll excess – confined to little more than diet-busting muffins – certainly aren’t what most bands would tell 10,000 or so people. It’s a delightful juxtaposition.

Their earnest songs share this low-key aesthetic. Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie aspire to the clichés of rap, rock and funk – yet cannot get beyond their mundane reality. Where most musicians invoke hyperbolic images of either perfect, everlasting love or rampant sexual conquest with the most stunning girl in the world, their ideal is a realistically awkward fumble someone so beautiful they ‘could be a waitress’.

Track after hilarious track over this delightful two-hour set exposes the unrealistic clichés of songwriters, from the preachy poseurs intensely highlighting global ills to Boyzone-style ballads. Mostly they avoid direct parody – save for the keenly accurate Bowie and the T-Rexish Demon Woman, complete with Seventies Top Of The Pops visual effects on the big screen. Instead they affectionately tease the very roots of all music, an ambitious brief.

They wouldn’t be so huge, though, if the songs weren’t brilliant pieces of music in their own right, hence the audience calling out for their favourites. Like Kirsten Schaal’s Mel in the TV series, several fans seem to think they’re best mates with the duo, and there are sporadic interruptions throughout.

The pair, Jermaine especially, bat away the distractions with good grace – even the tediously inevitable sheep noises mere mention of New Zealand elicits. Because for all their humble shtick, they are charismatically uncharismatic, coolly uncool. The gig feels intimate, and the banter, whether between themselves or directed at the audience, always polite and disarming. Even when they trash the set, they do it very carefully, so as not to cause too much trouble.

For all their reserve, the duo have an impressive vocal range, calling on anything from Barry White bass to Bee Gees falsetto to make their jokes. They’ve brought in the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra – aka a cellist named Nigel – to add to the musical richness – but they’re versatile musicians, even able to make playing a recorder funny, as they get medieval on our arses with the spoof madrigal 1353.

Lyrics radiate wit, from the brilliantly ingenious rhymes to observations a stand-up would envy. Their song Jenny, about an awkward chance meeting in a park, would be a classic comedy sketch in its own right; even before the added impact and timing the perfectly pitched melody adds. This is one of their lesser-known tracks, and all the better for being less familiar, but all the hits are here too, as demanded.

For those who need to know such things, the full set list was: Too Many Dicks On The Dancefloor, The Most Beautiful Girl (In the Room), Hurt Feelings, Jenny, Think About It, 1353, Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymnoceros, Ladies Of The World, Song For Epileptic Dogs, Not Crying, Foux du Fafa, Bowie, Demon Woman – with an encore of Business Time, Bus Driver’s Song, Albi and Mutha'uckas.

That’s an impressive catalogue, crossing genres but never losing sight of their aims of holding songwriting up to gentle but incisive ridicule, while paying affectionate tribute to the unrealistic ideals musical icons promote. They do it so well, with songs as funny as they are catchy, that they deserve every minim of their incredible success.


Date of live review: Tuesday 11th May, '10
Review by Steve Bennett


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Re: May 10 Birmingham - Tour stop #6

Postby SheWolf » Tue May 11, 2010 5:53 pm

Hurry up already Venus :waiting:
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Re: May 10 Birmingham - Tour stop #6

Postby Venus » Tue May 11, 2010 6:32 pm

Good things come to those who wait. :P Don't worry, I won't drag it out for too long. ;)
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Venus
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Re: May 10 Birmingham - Tour stop #6

Postby Venus » Tue May 11, 2010 11:54 pm

The Guardian:

Flight of the Conchords
Birmingham NIA
(4/5 stars)

Brian Logan guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 11 May 2010 21.35 BST

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Trapped-wind R&B ... Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie. Pictures/Jules Annan

If the joke is that you're a failed band, two losers with only one fan, what do you do when you become one of the hippest acts in international comedy? That's the paradox facing Flight of the Conchords, "New Zealand's fourth most popular folk parody act", as they used to call themselves before their hit sitcom and now tour of Britain's enormo-domes. The contradiction is unresolved: Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement seem unsure whether to stay in gormless character or savour their success. But if the Conchords concept is looking shaky, the songs are solid as ever: masterpieces of bathos that unite earnest musicianship with pedantic and gloriously banal sentiment.

I say songs, but the gag is that Clement and McKenzie's lyrics seldom attain that status. Songs require heightened language, but the pair trade in an earthbound idiom, and their funniest numbers are marooned between music and hair-splitting chat. When they want to look like macho rappers, they bellow phrases such as: "Be more constructive with your feedback!" Two ex-lovers recalling their night together get bogged down in a critique of the film Weekend at Bernie's II, and a medieval madrigal about wooing falters at Jemaine's difficulties in renting a horse.

More than in their previous shows, Clement is the star here. His personality inflates to arena size, whereas McKenzie's stays put. Their music – finest when plucked and twanged on acoustic instruments – and their Kiwi deadpan are better suited to smaller auditoriums: tonight's event is low-key by arena standards. But concessions are made to showmanship: the pair shimmer in sequinned bodysuits on Bowie in Space, and their trapped-wind R&B caterwauling would be hilarious whatever the venue. Likewise their imperishable banter. "If you're wondering," Clement tells us, "this is one of the talking parts of the show. It's just normal talking, except it's more professional."

The Conchords' most delightful dotty material derives from a nit-picking refusal to let anything speak for itself. The lyrics puncture their own illusion. "Oh Jemaine, you're amazing at making love," sings Jemaine on Business Time. Then he answers himself: "Thank you, me-putting-on-a-lady's-voice." They're hyper-sensitive to gradations of reality and illusion, which is why the uncertainty about their own identity (they respond to a heckle about their manager Murray by referring to him as a fictional character) is conspicuous tonight. But by the end, there's no room for confusion. As they bump, grind and thoroughly enjoy themselves among their adoring crowd ("Ladies from the easties and from the westies / Trying to molest these beautiful testes"), no one will mistake them for failures.

At the Manchester Apollo (08444 777 677), tonight. Then touring.

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Re: May 10 Birmingham - Tour stop #6

Postby closet jemainiac » Wed May 12, 2010 12:01 am

:waiting:

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Re: May 10 Birmingham - Tour stop #6

Postby SheWolf » Wed May 12, 2010 12:18 am

:waiting: :waiting: :waiting: :whistle:
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Re: May 10 Birmingham - Tour stop #6

Postby closet jemainiac » Wed May 12, 2010 12:20 am

She's doing it on purpose you know...

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Re: May 10 Birmingham - Tour stop #6

Postby SheWolf » Wed May 12, 2010 12:27 am

I can't blame her. I like to tease too. :P
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Re: May 10 Birmingham - Tour stop #6

Postby Venus » Wed May 12, 2010 12:27 am

:lol: I'm working on it. ;)
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LauraK
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Re: May 10 Birmingham - Tour stop #6

Postby LauraK » Wed May 12, 2010 12:38 am

Wow....you've been working on it a loooooong time, missy. :waiting:
:whip: We want details! And pics!! :lol: And we know you've got em!!
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Re: May 10 Birmingham - Tour stop #6

Postby SheWolf » Wed May 12, 2010 1:10 am

She posted a photo on the Jemalicious thread. That and the tongue action news are all I can handle for one night.

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Re: May 10 Birmingham - Tour stop #6

Postby Venus » Wed May 12, 2010 1:55 am

The end of Sugalumps! It was hilarious to watch! :roll2:
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