Bill Bailey at the Landmark Theatre - Ilfracombe!
As you can see - no review of a Bill Bailey performance can start without a photograph of the Tea and Coffee making facilities in my hotel room! Also - I'm not going to reveal any ambiguous jokes that could spoil the main show for anybody intending to go on the national tour. Any jokes I say will be local to the theatre and never uttered again by the man himself.
After finding out that our lord Bill Bailey was to be performing relatively locally (only a 3 hour drive!) I managed to bagsie some nice tickets downstairs and at the back. Bill was to be starting at 8.15pm so me and mother got to the Landmark Theatre in Ilfracombe by 8pm. We could just about hear final soundchecks in the theatre and the stall selling BB wares was in full flow. The T-shirts they were selling were awesome - if anybody remembers the Apple ][ green/black monochrome display they'll get a huge sense of retro with these shirts. It's a black/green ASCII character image of Bill with the 'Das Hokey Cokey' words printed beside it - no doubt they'll be up for sale during the national tour later this year. They were also selling CDs and.... Da da DA! Personally signed CD singles of 'Das Hokey Cokey' for.... £4! Bargain!
Anyways, we got into the theatre and sat down, the place was absolutely packed with no empty seats whatsoever. Everybody loves Bill! Then, as is his custom, he personally introduced himself...
Then there he was, the man himself walked onto the stage and made the standard "way hey!" type sounds he does at the start of every show. He introduced the show and outlined basically how it would pan out because he had a 'special guest' that evening. Wooo.... That guest was Jeff Green. More on him later. Bill started off by pointing to the 'massively technical' (really just a pull-down screen for a projector) screen and asked the audience to help select a backdrop for the show. Pictures came up like the Landmark Theatre, then a different angle of the theatre (to which someone shouted out "UFO!") and then, for some reason, a picture of a Guinea Pig. There was also a picture of the Combe Martin Dinosaur Park welcome sign, and Bill told us this story:
"I went and asked for directions to see the Dinosaur park, and the bloke said 'oh yes, you go down there, then over there, then next right and you're there. Hey, so you know, the dinosaurs - they aren't real...' I managed to walk away with just a sombre touch of disappointment, then staging a mock arguement with my friend... 'You told me they were real.....'"
He also had this to say about the theatre itself - "Ah, the Landmark Theatre, designed like the two, big honeypots of dreams! It's the only theatre that can be seen from the sea, so be safe in the knowledge that they are a beacon to distressed sailors."
Then, after a short while, Jeff Green came on. Jeff was pretty funny - he said some local humour about Ilfracombe that got a good laugh, he was mainly male-type humour though and because everyone had paid to see Bill he didn't stand much fare I guess. Still, a 30 minute set and he made it through okay. Then it was Bill again! And there was much rejoicing!
Bill came on and played a variety of music, all of it hilarious of course! Then there was a short interval, at which point I decided to sneak out my mobile phone and get a crafty photo of the stage (see left). I wanted to get one of Bill himself but the staff were watching like hawks and I didn't dare try.
Then Bill returned for an enslaught of hilarious mitherings. I won't go into details so that I don't spoil any potential enjoyment, but there was one story that I very much doubt he'll ever re-use, because the show was performed on the 10th anniversary of Diana's death. He told a story about how he had gone to visit the Taj Mahal, and that a photographer there had told him that there was a hilarious photo that he could have taken, which turned out to be Bill appearing to be holding the spire of the building. He showed us this photo. He then asked if the guy who take a photo of Bill in a pose of his choice, and the result was a 100% mimic of this photo, but with more emphasis on mock sadness as only Bill can do.
Other parts of the show that really stick out in my mind are:
- The AA letter (absolutely hilarious! tears of joy humour!)
- The ASDA song
- James Blunt
- Marketing jargon
Sadly though, the show was over WAY too soon, and after he played 'Love Song' (and getting the words wrong half way through) the show finished with a video collage that related to a variety of aspects of the show. He then came back to the stage for a standing ovation and then, as a final, parting gift, a list of '50 things you cannot take onto a plane'.
And that was it. It all seems so far in the past now, not less than 48 hours ago. I'm so looking forward to the DVD when it comes out!