Hapless nobodies? It's the only thing not convincing about the ConchordsJuly 8, 2012 - 11:02AM
Conal HannaFlight of the Conchords perform at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre as part of their Australian Tour. Photo: Michelle Smith
4 out of 5 starsFlight of the Conchords
Brisbane Entertainment Centre
Success is known to change a lot of people. None more so than those in showbiz, where everyone from Marilyn Monroe to Michael Jackson to Charlie Sheen endured very public struggles coming to terms with fame.
Luckily for fans of New Zealand’s self-proclaimed "fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo a cappella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo”, success has not changed Flight of the Conchords.
The pair’s musical comedy schtick has long revolved around their hapless romantic exploits and attempts to discover success as a band.
Back when they formed in 1998, must of this may have been autobiographical, but 14 years later, after major success at the Edinburgh Fringe, a BBC radio series, an HBO TV show and, in Bret McKenzie’s case, an Oscar, they’re hardly the lovable nobodies they continue to sing about.
Most Australian fans no doubt know them best from the cult, two-series HBO show that shared their name. The show largely revolved around their hapless manager, Murray, trying to build the band a profile in a largely disinterested New York City. Some of their more memorable gigs include shows in a library and a lift.
It’s fortunate, then, that the same songs still work in front of a sold-out crowd of 10,000 people at Boondall.
Of course, most of the songs predated the TV show, with the scripts largely written to fit around their comedy lyrics.
So it is with the stage show, too, where McKenzie and partner in crime Jemaine Clement fill in time between songs with a healthy dose of Kiwi self-deprecation and tales of awkward uncool.
Having opened with low-brow crowd favourite Too Many Dicks (On the Dancefloor), the boys then detail, in hilariously deadpan fashion, the song’s deeper metaphorical meaning and the effort that went into writing the somewhat repetitive lyrics. “And then Bret put ‘ditto, ditto’, ‘ditto, ditto’ and the song pretty much wrote itself after that.”
The next subject for ridicule is their costumes, which also haven’t improved in line with the bigger budget stage production, before they’re back into the multi-genre music with songs including The Humans Are Dead, Most Beautiful Girl (In The Room), and Jenny.
Between songs, the duo keeps it real with "wild" tales from their life on the road, again mastering the straight-faced delivery of stories so mild and awkward that it’s easy to swallow the illusion you’re watching two nervous, small-town first-timers.
But then their list of hits belies their modesty, with the crowd lapping up, and often singing along to, songs such as Tears of a Rapper, Business Time and Hiphopopotamus vs The Rhymenocerous.
After a short break the band makes an unexpected encore entry, riding CityCycle bikes through the crowd, before having to spend the next few minutes on an extended instrumental introduction to their next song while they recover their breath.
By the time the gig is over, the pair seems just about ready to acknowledge the reality of their fame and sex appeal, albeit with tongue firmly in cheek, as they chastise the women in the crowd for their continual obsession with looking at the “sugar lumps” at the front of their trunks.
The writhing and posing on stage has to be seen to be believed. But then if these highly talented guys can continue to pull off impersonations of downtrodden musical grafters they can do just about anything.