Comedy review: Russell Brand, Symphony Hall, Birmingham
The comedian is on his Messiah Complex world tour
Should we ask what is Russell Brand rather than who is Russell Brand? The louche Essex dandy is, after all, a force of nature whose musings on sexuality, karma and the human condition are often so florally postulated that each seems like an astral projection rather than an opinion.
With his own messianic status (foisted upon him or self-perpetuated) never far away, Brand tonight reintroduces to us Ghandi, Che Guevara, Malcolm X and Jesus, using them as four pillars upon which to build an understanding of why we have filled godless lives with consumerism and celebrity rather than admire sacrifice and endeavour. In short - no more heroes anymore, and certainly no more martyrs.
"Of course I am aware of the hypocrisy," swoons an Isadora Duncan-like Brand - all scarf, beads and half arabesques - admitting he isn't complaining about being about being stuck in a "tumble dryer of tits and money", but that he was worried about "the cultural consequences" of celebrity nonetheless.
Naturally, Brand's image is used for textbook examples, including the Daily Mail's take on comments he made about pop stars and heroin. However, Messiah Complex, paradoxically, does not rely totally in the self-reflexive and where it does it's refreshingly self-deprecating - for example, he essentially describes his acting career as, "playing versions of myself - sometimes with a hat on."
The parallel theme of corrupting a message through a projected image (Guevara being a choice example of appropriation) allows Brand to tread some familiar territory on the subject of advertising, but with some conviction and insight. Riffing on Gillette's now infamous strap line "The best a man can get", Brand concludes: "If a product has a commercial, you don't need it."
Inevitably Brand brings everything back to him and, more accurately, the source of his power: his loins. The pyrotechnics, however, really come at the start of the gig where our 'messiah' (and very naughty boy) wades into the audience and flirts and charms his way, literally, through the rows of male and female fans. "I like you, can I come down your aisle?" he says to one lady. "Look at some of the decisions you have made with your hair," he says to another.
Both a tour de force and a tour de farce - tonight Russell Brand is clown, philosopher, critic, pundit, lover, cad - all things to all men and, of course, to all women - as if that was ever in doubt.
Glastonbury Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend will perform with Paul Weller as their warm-up act
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Katie Hopkins gives rare glimpse of sensitive side with heartfelt open letter to her children penned in case she dies from epilepsy
- 2 Rihanna's Met Gala dress took one Chinese woman 2 years to make, was reduced to omelette meme in 2 seconds
- 3 Top Gear: Jodie Kidd, Philip Glenister and Guy Martin 'in advanced talks' to replace Jeremy Clarkson and co
- 4 #JeSuisEd: People share photos of themselves eating awkwardly in solidarity with Labour leader
- 5 Women think Irish men are the sexiest, survey finds
In defence of liberal democracy
General Election 2015: Post-election 'shambles' looms as 70 per cent of voters say SNP 'should not be able to veto UK government policies'
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
General Election 2015: Sturgeon claims Scots 'appalled' by Ed Miliband's refusal to work with SNP