Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Bonzo Dog Doo-dah Band, Shephred's Bush Empire

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to see the last night of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band's 40th anniversary tour at the Shepherd's Bush Empire. It's not often we go up to town on a weekend, so we decided to make a day of it by taking in a couple of Nordic Christmas markets in East London (as you do) - a Finnish one which was really cool and classy, and a Norwegian one which was anything but.

After a slightly indulgent early supper at the Bush Bar & Grill, we joined the queue of eager Bonzo-fans and marked our territory in the middle-aged mosh-pit. Most of the audience seemed to be made up of 50+ balding men, but everyone was in good spirits. I wish I'd worn my gig boots (oversized buffalos with 10" platform soles), as the SBE is not particularly well designed for standing punters - the stage is quite high up and the stalls floor isn't raked, so I found myself jumping up and craning my neck to see the onstage antics, of which there were plenty. Ant was kind enough to give me a piggy back for one of the numbers, so that I could fully appreciate the visual capers. The ageing band members were full of energy, which is more than can be said for the audience, who were disappointingly static. I can't help myself leaping around to songs such as 'Mr Slater's Parrot' which have induced uncontrollable giddiness in me since childhood. Special guests included Adrian Edmonson, Phill Jupitus, Paul Merton, and most pleasingly, Bill Bailey. None of them could replace the unique contributions of the legendary Vivian Stanshall, but thankfully they didn't even try. Neil Innes seemed to take the lead when it came to banter between songs, while the others pranced around like giddy teenagers, obviously relishing the occasion. Getting back to Brighton from London on a Saturday night (especially with rail replacement buses in place) is never a pleasant undertaking, but it was certainly worth it to experience the Bonzo madness in the flesh.

Photograph of Roger Ruskin Spear courtesy of Hddod
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