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Bill Bailey - Dandelion Mind

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Bill Bailey has had a tough week, or he tells his audience as his opening gambit - the fame tables have turned, people now keep mistaking him for X Factor's Wagner. There is something to be said for a stand up comedians whose first set piece of the night is to lead the entire audience in a rendition of "California Dreaming", sung at a number of tempos for comic effect of course, but Bailey asks it of his crowd and they deliver without hesitation.

For the uninitiated an evening with Bill Bailey could be a big ask. Bailey is a comic who moves from absurdist observational stories and one-liners to comedy songs without missing a beat. It's not long before the guitar is out, closely followed by the Persian oud - an evening in his presence can certainly broaden the mind on what type of instruments can deliver rock anthems.

Dandelion Mind follows a pattern many of Bailey's fans will expect, with material personifying the mating rituals of frogs, expounding on the biology of empathy and undermining the efforts of the England football team, all with the same impassioned semi-ranting style.

There were also moments in Bailey's set where we saw a breath of something else, a political satire which also harnesses his trademark absurdity. What results is scathing rather than cutting, the style undermining his subjects, highlighting quite effectively the ridiculousness of British politics.

The stage of the Wyndham's is well filled, a large video screen dominates and although mostly under-utilised - slowly spinning fans offered as filler - Bailey underscoring his own pre-taped material gives the comic the opportunity to properly paint the bizarre world he imagines we might inhabit, fully realised on the big screen.

I have to admit that Bailey's Kraftwerk pastiche fell flat - covering a peace anthem in German lacked the subversiveness and intellect of the rest of the set, however a James Blunt send-up and a formidable encore made this the one bum note of the evening.


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