I am of course talking about Ricky Gervais bringing back his fictional character best known from 'The Office'; the Brentmeister General himself, Mr. David Brent and his band 'Foregone Conclusion' for a couple of SOLD OUT work in progress gigs at the Bloomsbury Theatre in London.
Ticket touts who had contributed to this gig selling out in less than a minute caused an air of controversy to surround these gigs as true fans didn't manage to get tickets which were being sold on at extortionate prices. Thankfully, Ricky and his A-Team (management) got many of these overpriced tickets taken down and urged fans not to buy them.
I was fortunate enough to get a ticket for the very first gig and here are my (biased of course!) thoughts on the entire experience, without spoiling too much for those yet to see it:
Arriving at the Bloomsbury Theatre, I could see why Ricky chose it; it's a lovely little venue with an amazing view of the stage from wherever you're sitting, there are literally no 'shitty seats'; imagine that being said in a 'Brent-esque' way; 'The Bloomsbury Theatre: We don't give shitty seats!'
I also think he chose it because he performed a couple of sold out stand up shows there in the past and it is located close to and owned by UCL; where he studied and later worked so it is probably a venue close to his heart.
Sitting in the upper circle, the view of the stage was excellent and the atmosphere was amazing. It was so nice to anticipate the start of the show with a theatre full to the brim with excited fans, as cliche as it may seem, we were like one big diverse family.
The lights went down and to my surprise a bespectacled Doc Brown in 'golfing gear' as he put it (Ben Smith) appeared on stage; having never seen him in anything apart from The 'Equality Street' music video alongside David Brent and in an episode of Derek; I didn't know what to expect...but as soon as he started talking he had me in fits of laughter. He has a unique style of comedic rapping using clever lyrics and I'll definitely be going to his shows in the future. After the gig, I looked him up on YouTube and found this amazing 'Proper Tea' rap:
He was only on for a brief moment, holding up a piece of paper to introduce David Brent and the band, but he made it a moment of comedy gold by eating a scotch egg as he left the stage.
Then, the moment we had all been waiting for, Ricky Gervais appeared on stage; in a white dress shirt, baggy navy blue jeans, a waistcoat, bolo tie, ill fitting sunglasses and an earring to complete his 'rock n' roll' look. The moment he touched his earring and said 'fashion innit', the audience knew that 'Brent' was on stage. His band also sifted onto the stage in the background and 'Brent' briefly introduced them, but only cared to mention the new guitarist who he said was 'Mammogram's' nephew, 'Stu Monkford'; and of course he had to mention that he had not raped anyone, so far...
He started with the songs from his 'Learn Guitar' YouTube series such as 'Life on The Road' and 'Ooh La La' with the audience and myself finding ourselves clapping along. Doc Brown also came back on stage as rapper 'Dom Johnson' to perform 'Equality Street', 'Lonely Cowboy' and 'Ain't no Trouble'. The comedic chemistry and banter between Doc Brown and Ricky Gervais was brilliant.
|'Brent' and 'Johnson' singing 'Equality Street'|
When Ricky wasn't singing he was mouthing the lyrics and dancing along playing 'air guitar' which was funny and slightly adorable.
He also had his signature can of 'Fosters' on stage (those who have seen his stand-up and golden globes presenting will know that he always has a drink whilst performing live) which he would sip during guitar solos.
|'Brent' and 'Mammogram's' nephew 'Stu Monkford'|
|Derek and Poppy: Photo courtesy of Channel 4 and Netflix|
My personal favourite songs from the gig were 'Slough', 'Equality Street', 'Lady Gypsy' and 'Ain't no Trouble' and I loved the added 'magic' and sounds that the band brought to the whole experience. The song 'Ain't no Trouble' was in my opinion especially improved by the 'tropical sounds' (Racial!).
Watching these songs on YouTube from David Brent's fortnightly 'Learn Guitar' Lessons, I felt like I had known these songs forever and knew all the words, because however ridiculous the lyrics may seem, they are so damn catchy.
After performing all of the songs from the 'Learn Guitar' YouTube series bar one, 'You're why I breathe', he left the stage with Doc Brown to a roar of applause; but being familiar with his stand up I knew that he always comes back on stage for a second time. He didn't disappoint, and came back to perform 'The Serpent who guards the gates of Hell' and my all time favourite 'Freelove Freeway' which we were first exposed to in 'The Office'.
He finally bowed to the audience and left the stage to an eardrum bursting round of applause and a well deserved standing ovation from all of us.
Ricky performing as David Brent with a live band has proven what we already knew; that he is a versatile guy and a born performer. He is a unique article, the machine made one and was switched off forever.
I was sad for him that his singing career wasn't successful the first time round with his eighties group 'Seona Dancing' but am happy for him that he is fulfilling his dreams of a music career so many years on; whether that be for fun or otherwise.
My only suggestions for improvement, if any, is that there should've been more trademark 'David Brent' banter, a bit of audience interaction and a longer show. I would've also wanted to see Ricky playing the guitar himself, but he is forgiven on this occasion because of his '50 year old shoulder'....
My only regret is not hanging about after the show on the off chance of meeting Ricky and tell him face to face that his show was 'fucking amazing!'
If Ricky wants David Brent to be less successful then he is going to have to work a lot harder because, at the moment, he is more talented than many serious modern musicians. I hope all Ricky fans get to eventually see this gig as it is a fun experience.
All in all, a surreal, fun experience with catchy and ironically well-written songs which left my ears buzzing and wanting more; I urge Ricky to bring on the world tour and the album release; but what do I know?! I'm just a sad fan!