Monday, 10 September 2012

Bill Bailey at the Capitol Theatre

Bill Bailey began Qualmpeddler by bounding on stage with the youthful frivolity of a comedian receiving his first big audience. The cheeky comic’s inexhaustible exuberance belies his cynicism, making for a pleasant tour through the existential anxieties of contemporary life.

Bailey, who these days looks more like a big-time comic than an over-confident roadie, relates personal anecdotes about Australian adventures, but he’s also notably boned up on Aussie current affairs and pop culture. He quickly gets his audience on side with jabs at “famous-for-no-reason” Lara Bingle and by stirring the crowd into a collective jazz jam, making his stage presence feel like a night spent with your favourite dinner party companion. The political commentary was biting without gloom: he pulls references from shameless US campaigning, British government antics and even the Gillard chronicles, and his light-hearted touch was often as simple as comparing conservatives to porridge.

As expected, a big part of the show featured his trademark musical mash-ups, deconstruction of language and pop-culture throwbacks. At times it felt like Bailey was playing songs for the sake of it, but the exotic instruments – like a saz-bouzouki and a foghorn – definitely added a sense of playfulness. It’s hard to go past his trance remix of a church organ song or his reggae/dub step interpretation of Downtown Abbey’s ‘My Mother Is An Ox’. Bailey has charm and intellect with a circumlocutory element that makes any rambling observation a hilarious spoof, the main victims being Australian
accents and the internet generation.

Although relying largely on the spoken word, Bailey’s physicality is well timed: he jumps, crouches, shakes his fist and points at the crowd like a medieval jester. The show lasted for just under two hours, and was definitely worth the cost, particularly if you’re already a fan.

Published in The Brag Magazine. 

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