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Suggs: What a King Cnut ★★★★
Tyne Theatre & Opera House
Monday 26th March 2018
Graham McPherson comes across as a natural raconteur, a warm people’s person, a celebrity who still has his roots firmly embedded in the region that put him there. A follow up to his successful show “My Life Story”, this takes the story of one man and his band a step further. The resultant show makes the audience regularly laugh, so much so it would put some comics to shame.
Suggs appears wearing a white coat and a black long haired wig, sitting on a throne. After a brief summary of King Canute’s downfall he springs up and starts describing the life of a star at Glastonbury. He is good at annoying the other artists interspersed with annoying his daughters who are doing the posh camping thing with him. But then there’s the downer of having to leave the free hospitality behind in order to do an interview in a tent for the Guardian newspaper.
The wig and coat disappear and he brings the story back to the beginning – living in a flat with his Mum, a jazz singer, in Camden. With a mother working late at night and being from a tough neighbourhood, the need to survive and find a path was coupled with meeting people who wanted to form a band. This was in the post punk 70s and Suggs recalls both the difficulties in getting the band, plus their instruments, together and coping with gigs in a lively time when it could easily kick off soon. There was also the issue of earning enough money which led him to trying a number of day jobs. These stories work as you can imagine him trying to get by on the gift of the gab and good humour. Of course, the firm foundations of where they were from helped establish Madness as a major chart act as the lyrics were easy to relate to for anyone in a similar situation at the time. Even the last 2 albums are rooted in the comings and goings in NW5 and, accompanied by his pianist Deano, he sings some of the more recent songs such as Blackbird plus a couple of the classics like My Girl and Our House. Deano is a very good pianist and the stripped-down nature of a sole accompaniment often gives a new prominent edge to the lyrics.
The stories run through the closing ceremony of London 2012, attending Chelsea games such as the FA Cup final and European games in Liverpool. Each anecdote comes with subtly different lighting. The very funny yarn spinner soon gets to his time presenting on radio and appearing on the roof of Buckingham Palace. Two themes run through the second act: one involving hair and the other involving family but I won’t spoil the surprise by revealing anything here. Needless to say, both strands add a diversity and a spirit to the tales that can be missing in some stand up comic routines.
Suggs is very good at story telling. At times self-deprecating, at others waxing lyrically about his own ego, he never loses the audience and they hang on to his every word. The show works well as he has something interesting to say but he doesn’t expect any judgement from the audience. You are left thinking you could happily spend more time listening to him. His warmth radiated across the venue. This is a cracking show.
Review by Stephen Oliver
Photos: Joanne Oliver www.jowheretogo.com
The comedy continues at the Tyne Theatre & Opera House this week with Phoenix Nights star Dave Spikey: Juggling on a Motorbike Tour on Thursday 29th March 2018
Tickets are available from our affiliate Eventim UK: http://bit.ly/2h3sEiA