Review: Bill Bailey, Portsmouth Guildhall

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As thousands watch Pearl Izumi riders zoom by outside, Bill Bailey stomps onto the stage at Portsmouth Guildhall in faux high dudgeon.

‘Did you cycle here?’ he demands. ‘In no way am I annoyed about that!’

He carefully keeps just one step away from being simply a Grumpy Old Man

Its the start of an utterly hilarious show in which he carefully keeps just one step away from being simply a Grumpy Old Man.

Instead, to borrow a phrase from one of his many stories, he stays in the tourist car park next to the abyss rather than plunging headlong into a void of mere moaning.

So his show is instead an wry and acerbic examination of the absurdities of life, from the leadership of our two main parties by ‘a mildly-befuddled woodwork teacher’ and a ‘laminated pebble of a man’ (I’ll leave you to fathom out who’s who) to a total deconstruction of the phrase ‘Not too bad, all things considered’ to illustrate how for the British it actually demonstrates the height of happiness.

Add to that his incredible musical ability - including a terrify country lament played on an electric Holy Bible (I kid you not!) - and, among yarns, the memory of a horrifying family trip to see the Northern Lights and a wonderfully-embellished description of a meeting with Paul McCartney that had his audience in utter stitches and you have a night to remember.

An evening with Bill Bailey? Not too bad, all things considered....