Comedy review: Russell Brand, Symphony Hall, Birmingham

4.00

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.

Arts and Entertainment
Loading individual letters on to an original Heidelberg printing press
books
Arts and Entertainment
Shades of glory: Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend

Glastonbury Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend will perform with Paul Weller as their warm-up act

Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

    'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

    In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
    VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

    How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

    Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
    They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

    Typefaces still matter in the digital age

    A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
    Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

    'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

    New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
    The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

    Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

    Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

    Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
    Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

    Crisp sales are in decline

    As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
    Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

    Ronald McDonald the muse

    A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
    13 best picnic blankets

    13 best picnic blankets

    Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
    Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

    Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

    Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
    Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'