Monday, May 09, 2011

Concert: Neil Innes

(More catching up on a bunch of posts that have been sitting around half-finished for far too long.)

The Junction, Cambridge, 29th March 2011.

At 8 o'clock in the evening of March 29th - the scheduled start time, good heavens - an amiable old buffer in a waistcoat and beret ambled on stage and launched into a show which lasted a couple of hours, with an interval...

The last time I saw Neil Innes on stage was thirty-something years ago, when he was basically playing the good stuff from his TV series of the time. This older, plumper, greyer Innes was playing something a bit less formal and structured and a bit more relaxed. I think that there was stuff from a radio series, but I confess I'm not familiar enough with his repertoire; there was certainly little sense of product to sell, except perhaps for retrospective collections. There was a bit of chat between songs, some of it going back to the foundation of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band (basically, a bunch of London art students bonded over a taste for not-very-good pre-war British trad jazz) and including recollections of that band's somewhat edgier leading light, Viv Stanshall, as well as some mention of Monty Python and the Rutles. It was all very pleasant. Innes, it must be said, clearly isn't very edgy at heart. Gentle comic melancholy is more his style. There were some comments that might have been taken to relate to contemporary politics, but they were at the level of general benevolence than satirical ferocity.

And yet - it wasn't hard to remember that this man has provided musical underpinnings for the defining Anglophone comedy of the last half-century. This is Sir Robin's minstrel and Ron Nasty. This is someone to catch up with from time to time.

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