Originally published for OPEN Magazine
I once gently persuaded (emotionally blackmailed) my friend Nicki into accompanying me to review Les Dennis’ one man show. It was over two hours long. No interval. No free bar. Presented with two tickets to An Evening with Noel Fielding last Saturday, the decision of who to be my plus one was obvious – it had to be Nicki, I owed her.
We turned up to the Liverpool Echo arena a little behind schedule but had no idea that we were in fact, a handsome 24 hours late. Turns out I actually had tickets for the performance the night before – Oops. Luckily, the staff were a bunch of good eggs and sorted our tardy arses out with some seats. (Special mention to Nicki for resisting the urge to point out that I never got the dates mixed up for Les Dennis.)
We settled down just in time to witness Noel, in keeping with his #personalbrand, stride onto the stage draped in a full length, sequin cloak and begin his unique take on the traditional stand-up performance.
“I’m over 40 now,” he informs the crowd (I know, right? Just when did that happen?) “So I’m like a day old helium balloon – not touching the ceiling anymore but not quite down on the ground just yet”. While comically self-depreciating about his new middle aged status, he’s certainly not lost any of the youthful energy and off the wall humour he’s famed for. Complete with support from his brother Michael (Naboo in the Mighty Boosh) and Luxury Comedy’s Tom Meetan, An Evening with Noel Fielding is an eccentric mix of comedy, a back catalogue of classic characters, music and general whimsical nonsense.
Whimsical nonsense is all very well and good but it can turn reviewing Noel Fielding into a bit of a poisoned chalice. On one hand, ‘Yay, free tickets’ (and it’s a big Yay – as much as I love you Noel, I put Koka noodles on my credit card this week so forking out nearly £30 to see you was out of the question) but on the other, how does one successfully convey to the reader something that basically becomes a bit of a stoner’s pantomime towards the end? There are affairs with triangles, ‘in-between jobs Antonio Banderas’ cameos, surprisingly impressive Andy Murray impersonations – it all proves rather tricky to put into words just how Noel captivates and engages with the audience in such a unique manner and, unfortunately for you, I’m not a talented enough writer to do so. (Also, I’m pretty hungover writing this.) Sorry about that.
One observation from the evening, aside from the realisation that I’m piss poor at reviewing, is just how at ease Noel is with traditional stand-up comedy. Renowned for his surrealism with The Mighty Boosh, I can’t have been the only one in the audience wondering how he’d fair with just a mic and a stage. Turns out, he’s pretty bloody good at it. He’s not delivering mundane drivel like the likes of Mickey Flanagan, don’t worry. No no, he recalls the time he dreamt he was a teabag and the middle class politics involved in the teabag cupboard. With the first act consisting of mainly a solo performance, Noel proves he’s certainly capable of having the audience laughing without any props or costumes to hand. He has, by his own admission, ‘an easy charm that the mums love’. A statement you can’t deny once you spot the high number of Radley bags under the seats in the audience.
All in all, An Evening with Noel Fielding more than makes up for making someone spend an night with Les Dennis so thank you Noel, I owe you!
See also: Interview: Noel Fielding