Review: Bill Bailey at The Kings Theatre, Southsea

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
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Club Scene with Sam Cherry

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The thing about Bill Bailey, qualm peddler extraordinaire, is that he’s so jolly clever.

Not for him any longer, it seems, the unequal battle of witticisms and warblings with indie halfwits (‘I’ve got grade 6 clarinet - I’m better than Never Mind The Buzzcocks!’)

He is far more at home on stage as he struts his cerebral stuff, demonstrating a linguistic and musical ability of which us mere mortals can hardly dream.

Not that he’s remote from audience - far from it. He clearly is at one with us as he pauses often in wry contemplation of the hilarity - and sometimes the absurdity - of what he’s doing.

Bailey is a master of the language and his railing against the way it is ‘evolving’ on Twitter is as thought-provoking as it is rib-tickling. And it’s not just the English tongue that is his stock in trade. The switch into Mandarin is, dare I suggest, a wonderful segment of the show.

Musically, he is a joy to behold. Who’d have thought that we’d come away from the Kings Theatre humming the theme tune to Match of the Day as a synthesized lounge accompaniment, an east European cartoon theme, a Red Army marching beat, and, to boot, a frenetic Jewish folk song?

He plays his keyboard to aplomb, and he is a master too at getting a tune - and a laugh - from a family bible (I kid you not), from a like-a-balalaika-like contraption the name of which I was never sure we fully discovered, and from a phalanx of vintage cow horns on which The Final Countdown has surely never sounded so stirring.

All in all it was a rollicking good show as Bailey paced the stage collecting laugh after laugh. Let us hope he is soon once more peddling his qualms in these parts.