Friday, 6 November 2009

In Which Mr Mitch Benn Sings

The Fifth of November is traditionally Bonfire Night, with fireworks and bonfires the order of the day (or night) But I had a better offer, so around 7 I set off into a dark and drizzly night to head for Bath's Rondo Theatre to see the fabulous Mr Mitch Benn. I didn't miss out entirely on the fireworks, as there were several lots being set off which I was able to glance at in passing as I drove along.

The Theatre is a very small one - it only seats around 100 people, is mostly run by volunteers, and I think it must be related to the little shops in Sir PTerry's books, because I am absolutely certain that it is in a slightly different steep little backstreet in Bath every time I go. I like it.

I arrived, acquired a rather nice pint of Spitfire and found my seat, which was very close to the front (admittedly, as there are only 10 rows, it's quite hard NOT to be close to the front, but still...) It's the kind of place where you have a tendancy to meet people you know, or to fall into conversation with strangers.

Once settled, with my pint, I had nothing to do but wait for the show to start. Which, very shortly, it did.

Mr Benn (supported by Ivan Sheppard on drums, and Kirsty Newton on Bass, Piano Organ & vocals) began with 'The Interactive Song' (You have selected situational comedy in the style of Lily Allen')... which was a fun start.

We had quite a few of the older songs - one of my personal favourites 'Now He's Gone' (sung by Kirsty Newton) and a lot from the new albulm. ('Motorway Food' , Love Your Love Handles''What would Elvis Do?')

Where else can you see elderly ladies in tears of laughter over a song about Auto-erotic Asphyxiation?

I love that Mitch takes so many 'stock' types of song and totally subverts them - noting that there are plenty of break-up and unrequited love song, but very few songs about being happily in a relationship, which gives us 'Disgustingly in Love' ;

"Our friends all think we're dead but,
We just stay home instead 'cos,
We are disgustingly in Love..."

And who else would point out that, Shakespeare were alive today he would NOT, as so many people believe, be writing soap opera, but rap music. Which leads, inevitably, to his rendition of Macbeth (in the style of Eminem...)

I would love to hear that this was being played in schools - can't help feeling that, like Manga Shakespeare, it would probably go a way to encourage people to give the Bard a chance...

Then of course, there was the IKEA anthem, 'Please don't release this song' (with a spookily good Beatles voices...) and Sing Like an Angel, which perfectly captures the spirit of the X Factor and it's clones.

One of the most impressive parts ofthe eveing is that Mitch will write a whole new song during the interval - based on 2 or 3 recent news stories suggested by the audience - on this occasion, A (tiny)tornado in Bath, the opening of the new shopping centre ( a Much bigger story!) and the story about the court having thrown out Nick Griffin's allegation he'd been racially abused (Yay!!) 'twas a fun song.

Towards the end of the evening we got Mitch's Rock -Musical version of a great literary classic - The Very Hungry Caterpillar ...

Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and the final encore was the song Mitch wrote in Memory of John Peel - Let's have a minute's noise for John'

After the show Mitch was selling CDs so I had the chance to say Hi, and to buy a copy of the latest CD (Mitch Benn, where next?)

Having had the forethought to get a copy of Mitch and Jon Holmes' book A History of the World Through Twitter which he signed for me.

If you get a chance, go see the show. And if not, all the albulms are available as CDs or downloads here


christine said...

going to see him in Canterbury at the end of the month, very much looking forwad to it

Marjorie said...

Hi Christine, thanks for reading.

You're in for a treat - have you seen him live before?

Heather said...

I saw him in Durham at the beginning of the tour, and he was wonderful.

If I were still teaching, his Macbeth would certainly be played in schools! I used to teach Macbeth to Year 9, and it was really hard to get them into it.