If you’re a regular reader of The Velvet Onion it won’t have passed you by that The Mighty Boosh performed two warm up shows at the Soho Theatre this week. We were lucky enough to be there to witness the epicness. Here’s Velveteer Mog’s non-spoilery report:
A long time ago I came across something wonderful. It was intelligent and warm, charming and whimsical; it took me to fantastical worlds and gifted me laughter and fierce friendships. It was unique, special and precious. Slowly, over time, it was discovered by more and more people, and because they’re only human, they too fell in love with it. Soon there were enough of us to fill the O2 arena several times over for The Mighty Boosh.
Since then we’ve had panel shows and plays, art exhibitions, voice-overs and tabloid tittle-tattle. We’ve grown up and grown older, and so have they. The world has changed, and now there’s a newer version of the latest thing. So the excitement that the promise of two Boosh shows generated came tempered with the fear of being disappointed. How could it possibly live up to expectations?
On Sunday and Monday night the downstairs room at the Soho Theatre was buzzing with eager anticipation. The hopeful old guard rubbed shoulders with expectant younger fans, who filled the front row with camera phones, hair colours and chatter.
The lights dimmed, and Julian and Noel’s voices rolled out onto the stage, closely followed by the two of them in person: the familiar pairing of the puppy-like energy of Fielding and the hesitant groundedness of Barratt. The magic was still there; whenever Noel and Julian took to the stage, the room glowed.
Genuine, clever, witty and frequently bonkers, the Boosh’s performance was perfectly pitched. I’ve rarely seen two artists more in tune with each other and their audience. And like all great double acts, the whole is somehow greater than the sum of its parts. It felt like we were all sharing a giant warm bath of joy.
Seeing them live again also served as a sharp reminder as to why they reached such dizzying heights of success: they’re bloody talented – from the brain-fizzing freshness of their ideas and the razor-sharp wordplay, to their amazing musicianship (hands up all those fellas who left the gig with a man crush on Julian?).
Yes, they falter at times, and you’re never far from feeling that they’re making it up as they go along, but that’s part of the Boosh’s charm (and afterall, they were warm-up shows). Besides, the gigs’ occasional ramshackle-ness felt like a nod to the early years, which is no bad thing.
Woven around the Boosh’s appearances were three support acts: Joey Page (moments of brilliance), Stuart Silver (fantastic – well worth checking out if you get the chance) and Holly Burns (perhaps not the most obvious choice for the night).
The final 40 minutes of the show consisted of the Boosh Band, playing tight, fresh twists on their musical classics. We’ll never see Electro Boy in the same light again. Funny, inspired and smart – and just a bit wonky. Dave Brown also deserves a special shout out for THAT VOICE. This was most definitely not the “shambola” promised by Noel via twitter.
Marriage proposals were made (Sunday), Baileys was swigged (Monday) and a likely knowing reference made to an infamous fanfic*. Shrieks of astonishment reverberated along the front row.
The Mighty Boosh: charming, folksy, weird and inclusive, this was them at their original best. The stadium rock star comedy machine felt like a distant memory – and long may it remain that way!
In respect of the fans who’ll be seeing the show at Festival Supreme, photos were only allowed during the first half of Sunday night – so this review has been written in the spirit of avoiding spoilers too. Hopefully the essence of the show hasn’t been lost in the non-specificity.
* Alas, apparently mere coincidence.