Wednesday 26 May 2010

Reviewlet: Flight of the Conchords

Flight of the Conchords wrap up their European tour at a sold-out Wembley Arena, a slightly surreal venue for the low-key duo. We didn’t catch the first support act, Lawrence Arabia, but got in for Arj Barker who did a great stand-up set, including what he’d learnt about history from games (like the respawning box of grenades in a barn near the D-Day beaches).

The Conchords themselves came out in cardboard box headgear for the stomping techno of Too Many Dicks (On The Dance Floor) and play for over two hours, interspersing songs with banter (“it’s like talking, but more professional… sometimes there might be two songs in a row, sometimes there might be two bits of talking in a row, though you probably won’t notice unless we draw attention to it”). With such a huge venue to fill they need a bit of help, which arrives after a couple of songs in the form of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra (travelling section); he’s called Nigel. There are a couple of new songs, including a beautiful tale of wooing a lady in 1353, but most of the set is taken from the albums and TV series; my personal favourite Robots, The Most Beautiful Girl (In The Room), Inner City Pressure, Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymnoceros (feat. Rhymnoceros and Hiphopopotamus), Demon Woman, We’re Both In Love With A Sexy Lady, Think About It, Hurt Feelings, Albi the Racist Dragon, Business Time, She’s So Hot (Boom), Bus Driver’s Song, Bowie. A request for Prince of Parties is initially rebuffed by Bret (“you should probably go home and listen to that one on CD… we tried it and couldn’t remember the chords”), but Jemaine launches into it, and sure enough stumbles in the chorus. The ramshackle performance is much of the charm of the Conchords, whether absolutely genuine, carefully rehearsed, or most likely a mix of the two like the magnificently ineffective singalong section of Epileptic Dogs. It’s also not best suited to the enormo-shed that is Wembley Arena, but when 12,000 tickets sell out in 20 minutes you can’t argue with demand; even halfway back they’re distant figures on stage, but a couple of big screens mean the subtle nuances of expression during Jenny aren’t completely lost.

The show finishes with an extended slowed down Sugalumps, Arj coming back to deliver his verse, security having to be called on an enthusiastic fan rushing the stage, and some lucky people in the front rows getting a particularly close view of Bret’s complimentary after dinner mints. Absolutely fantastic.

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