Archive | March, 2014

Liam Williams – Live

7 Mar


Komedia: Monday, March 3 2014

Deadpan and “mildly depressed” Yorkshireman Liam Williams doesn’t seem the type to revel in adulation, but really fella, take a bow. With the TV jam-packed with comedy panel shows featuring a parade of brash, breezy and increasingly banal “bright young things”, Williams is the perfect antidote.

This routine, “just called Liam Williams because I couldn’t think of any witty puns on my name,” earned him a best newcomer nomination at last year’s Edinburgh Festival. And it was immediately obvious why; he does dour and detached as well as Jack Dee and offbeat perception as precise as Stewart Lee – but what really set him apart was his lucid and at times lyrical language.

His poetic prose – perfectly contrasted by his knowing, flat-vowelled delivery – seamlessly flowed through the set as he mused on his “lazy life as a semi-professional comedian” and his “lower middle class upbringing”.

Crucially, despite his linguistic panache, it never strayed into clever dick territory; for every mention of Plath there was a nod to Nuts magazine, for every angst-fuelled reading from his unpublished novel (a Catcher in the Rye parody) there was a withering run through Time Out’s top 10 weirdest date locations.

“My inner monologue is a cross between Philip Larkin and Hard-Fi,” he grumbled.

If it results in stand-up as sharp and as special as this, long may it continue.


Laughtermarket Annual Special

4 Mar


Wednesday, February 19 2014: The Old Market

The announcement that a comedian is “trying out new material” usually dampens expectations. When the said act is Zoe Lyons, however, it only heightens them. While the Hove-based performer’s subject matter was far from radical (gay marriage, UKIP and the Winter Olympics all featured heavily) her cutting observations, enthusiastic manner and exquisite delivery ensured this was a typically polished performance.

Likewise, Joe Wells – who impressed at last year’s Brighton Fringe – maintained the high standard with a politically-charged set which, cleverly, was more devilishly deadpan than desperately ranting.

Speaking of the latter, guitar-wielding James McDonnell proved he was the master of cranking up the volume and on-stage hyperactivity. While he displayed some disturbingly funny lyrics, his brazen bluster is best experienced in short doses.

Holly Walsh, by comparison, could captivate a crowd for hours. Half the battle of stand-up is looking like you belong on stage. Walsh might as well pitch a tent on it. There was nothing forced or fake as she skipped through subjects as diverse as her recent marriage, the dangers of schoolgirls booking strippers to appear at Pizza Express and dog poo conspiracies. There’s nothing underhand here though; Walsh is undoubtedly headline material.

Cate le Bon – Live

4 Mar


Monday, February 17, 2014: Komedia

You can probably count on one hand the number of people born in deepest, rural Carmarthenshire who have sought fame and fortune by scarpering to Los Angeles (Llanelli, maybe). But then a cursory listen to anything Cate le Bon has ever produced suggests she is as fond of convention as extreme Welsh nationalists are of English holiday home owners.

While her third album Mug Museum – recorded in the Golden State – has an extra sheen to it, tonight reinforced the fact that it still shimmered with the idiosyncratic charm, ramshackle musical clutter and off-the wall lyrical oddities that characterised its predecessors.

‘Are you with me now?’ was a prime case in point, swooping along like a dreamy cut of 60s pop, albeit it swelled with a murky undercurrent of fuzzy guitar noodling and piercing high-pitched sighs, giving it an overwhelmingly original edge.

Throughout, le Bon displayed bundles of stage presence, without always seeming to be present. While cutting a striking figure, thanks in part to Nicky Wire-levels of eyeliner, she displayed an air of cool detachment which at times suggested she was surveying proceedings rather than initiating them. In the hands of bigger egos, this might have grated, but who can blame her for a copping a good look at the dizzying array of superbly surreal yet sophisticated gems she created?


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