It’s taken a while for the phenomenon that is the Boosh Tour to land in sunny Birmingham, but this Halloween the hair, the glitter and the catchy jazz tracks of Noel Fielding and Julian Barrett and their alter egos Vince Noir and Howard Moon finally arrived at the NIA Academy. So off I toddled.
I had already seen the Boosh tour a few years ago and was expecting the same thing – a lot of energy and few fluffed up gags, props-a-plenty and an adventure into the mind of probably the most original comedy outfit since the League of Gentlemen. And while there was a lot of energy and a lot of props on offer, the thing that I was looking forward to the most wasn’t there, namely a good old fashioned Boosh adventure.
This to me is the best part of the Boosh, a trip through the imagination full of weird and wonderful characters and creations, doodled out in glitter-encrusted crayons. And I am sad to say that (for the first half at least) this didn’t happen. The Boosh have grown up, they have stopped playing with toys and living in a world of imagination, and have now ‘matured’ and hit comedy puberty. They are unruly teens, listening to rock music and wanting to be musicians. And while neither is as spotty nor grumpy as your average emo, Goth or lanky greasy teen, you can tell that with the taste of fame they have received, rock and roll stardom beckons.
But that’s not to say this 33 year old (whose musical taste has stayed well and truly in the 90s) didn’t like the show. It was exactly what 99.9 per cent of the audience wanted, which to be honest was full of people younger, fitter and more attractive than me (not to mention 101 Old Greg’s, Witches, Zombies, Nanas, Mod-Wolves, Future Girls and Electo Boys.. well it was Halloween). There were all the catchphrases, all the characters, and all the crimping any fan could want, and while this parade of characters dominated the first half, it was great to see Tony Harrison, the Moon, The Crack Fox and even Bob Fossil bought to the stage via the ‘magic’ of theatre. But it all seemed a bit light on the imagination side.
It wasn’t until the second half that the chemistry and magic of the Boosh kicked in. While not the long second act adventure that I was hoping for, the second half did up the ante a bit, starting with an eco-play written by Howard Moon (a Howard Moon Production) set in the future with a heavy social message. Of course, the play is hi-jacked by Vince and turned into a glitter ball future pop party. This is Fielding’s forte, to take the mundane and with the help of glue, and a box full of tinsel, he’s able to create a fantastic voyage of pure tartrazine-fuelled entertainment, entering on stage as a Pygar-esque (you know that angel bloke from Barbarella) character decked out in so much gold and glam it would put Ziggy Stardust to shame.
This silly-ness is where I personally think the Boosh excels, but I think I am a minority, as the second half of the second half (!) was purely a rock concert on stage that the baying fans just ate up. I am aware that the guys have done a few concerts and even set up their own festival and that the ‘Boosh Band’, as they are called, are actually releasing an album. And while it was fun to hear Nannageddon, Bouncy Bouncy and a new song called ‘I did a Sh%t’, I personally feel that this indulgence should have been left to the after-show party which was happening at Brum’s Carling Academy after the stage show had finished. I, of course, didn’t go as I am for too old for this type of thing but from the mass of young hip types I guess that half ten, when the show finished, was really just a warm up for a bigger night of fun.
I may sound like a grumpy old sod, but really I’m not. I had a great time really as it’s always fantastic to see your favourite TV stars live, and the amount of effort, enthusiasm and fun the guys were having on stage was just so infectious that it was very hard not to join in.
It was also great to see the guys taking a pop at a certain large orange monster who endorsed a certain honey-focused cereal brand (the boys’ crimping style made an appearance in the most recent ad). And I feel it is just and right that Tony Harrison got to get his wicked way with the much beaten-up and harassed monster. As while still seeking rock and roll stardom, there is no debate at all that Fielding, Barrett and the rest of the crew are so unique, passionate and original in what they do it is a shame to try and cash in on such a breath of comedy fresh air..
Still, on saying that, I am still not going to pay 12 quid for a programme.