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Idiot Bastard Band : Union Chapel, London, 2/12/2012
Author: Tom Fogarty
Published: 06/12/2012

The Idiot Bastard Band are a comedy rock/folk band, composed of Ade Edmondson, Phill Jupitus, Rowland Rivron and Neil Innes, and are "dedicated to the comic song" according to their website. They are a sort of super group of irreverent comedians.

They are playing tonight at the Union Chapel and not being one who attends churches - least of all on a Sunday - this sets the scene for an interesting gig. A functional chapel that also serves as a venue for gigs and events; this adds a sense of the absurd to the proceedings, and it suits the band well. The place is packed, and the pews are lined with audience members from early on (there will be no dancing here tonight - any boisterous antics will be strictly limited to those on stage). Having no bar, the venue is completely "dry" - although mugs of tea are served - further adding to the bizarre nature of the show. Being a completely sober gig is also oddly appropriate as the band play many obscure songs from 30’s and 40’s prohibition/depression era America.

The choice of songs overall is an eclectic mix - country and western, dixie, flamenco as well as covers by the likes of Ian Dury, Flight of The Conchords, Coldplay (yes, really!) and Flanagan and Allen. The band also play a few of their own self-penned ditties which largely fall flat with the exception of Rowland Rivron's, which is genuinely funny.

Although all the band members have been involved to some extent with music over the years, it is still surprising just how good they are. Although they have comedy as a fallback, which they rely on heavily throughout the two sets, there is a lot of real talent on display here tonight. Ade Edmondson in particular is exceptionally good; playing the guitar, ukelele, violin, mandolin and the trumpet, plus many more that I can't even name. He's a pretty good singer too. By the end of the show the stage is literally littered with instruments.

The band play well together and are obviously enjoying themselves, even if at times it is all a little self-indulgent. Everything has clearly been well-rehearsed, even down to many of the ad-libs I suspect. This leads on to another interesting aspect of the show that might surprise many; the band aren't actually that funny. Although dressed ridiculously (at times donning massively oversized sombreros etc), there is a sense of aloofness about them. For example, at one point an audience member calls out a request, to which Phil Jupitus replies: "If you want to join in, you should have turned up to the fucking rehearsals".

Indeed, Jupitus is the only band member who begins to grate after a while, which is a shame.

Overall the night is not as funny as I'd hoped, but musically much better. In many ways it has been a thoroughly enjoyable evening out.

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