|Michael Fowler Centre, 24 October 2016|
Michael Fowler Centre
24 October 2016
It's only two years since Bill Bailey performed in Wellington, and this time he's filling the Michael Fowler Centre twice over, which only goes to show that the star of many wonderful TV programmes that are largely ignored by networks here has a massive and eager audience in New Zealand. If anything, Larks in Transit felt like a more coherent and all-around entertaining show than his last, Limboland, while exhibiting the tried and tested structure. Parodic musical silliness, self-deprecating anecdotes and helpless rants at the unfairness of the world are Bailey's forte, and he excels in all of them.
This show featured a strong selection of signature musical outings, variations on themes he's covered often before but still highly entertaining: death metal covers of Abba's Dancing Queen, crowd participation to build a sampled orchestral opus, effortless diversions into Beethoven's Für Elise as a bridging device, and propulsive Irish mandolin reels to celebrate Celtic rock excess. In poking fun at himself, Bailey set high standards with a hilarious and hopefully exaggerated tale of meeting rock idol Paul McCartney backstage after a gig and the encounter proceeding from awkward to borderline disastrous; Bailey is adept at the physical comedy, becoming a convincingly twitching, gurning wreck of a fanboy. And as for ranting, Bailey has plenty to decry in the shambolic politics of Brexit Britain ('that calamitous act of self-harm'), mis-governed, directionless and awash in social media flamewars. Cheerful stuff, but Bailey always steers towards absurdity rather than helpless angst - ultimately, he'll always be an optimist. Here's hoping he continues to return to this far corner of the world.
Comedy: Bill Bailey - Limboland, 2 November 2014
Comedy: Bill Bailey - Qualmpeddler, 29 September 2012
Interview: Kim Hill with Bill Bailey, 22 October 2016