Pere Ubu, The Garage, London

5.00

He showed them who's the daddy

It's not often one sees a performer heckling an audience, but it's usually entertaining when it happens. And especially so when the heckler is a big chap with a little cartoon voice.

David Thomas has invested so much of his life in Pere Ubu (the band), and most of the past couple of years, he tells us, in Pere Ubu (the role), for the Quay Brothers' stage production of Alfred Jarry's Ubu Roi that he appears to have taken on some of the vile character's repugnant traits as his own: treating first his band members, then the audience, to a display of prickly asperity and contempt; guzzling beer constantly, along with frequent nips from a hip-flask; belching and swearing loudly; throwing tantrums at the drop of a note; and I swear at one point he even blew his nose in the revolting manner practised by footballers, covering one nostril with a finger and honking mucus out of the other, but not into a handkerchief. It was a performance worthy of Jarry's "fat toad" himself.

The plan for this show was for Ubu to play "The First and the Last" – ie their classic 1978 avant-rock debut album The Modern Dance, and last year's album of songs from the stage production, Long Live Père Ubu!. The mistake, or masterstroke, depending on your viewpoint (and your proximity to the singer's nasal passages), was to perform the latter first, in order to avoid half the audience leaving during the intermission. Having invested so much of his time in the project, the slightest mistake drives him to distraction: it might sound like random noise at times, but it's all clearly ordered, to the smallest sonic detail. So when Thomas himself fluffs one song, he's mortified, and insists that we have to "suffer through it all again"; later on, a further repetition is demanded for some other glitch, as the singer stalks the tiny, overcrowded stage, swearing at nothing in particular. This could be a long night, if they're not careful. Particularly for the synthesiser operator, who has to do the routine with the chicken mask all over again.

The music, a combination of martial drumming, electronics and piercing guitar flourishes, with Thomas's helium squeak in discourse with the drummer's responses as Mere Ubu (not unlike Alastair Sim's drag voice), sounds fine to the audience, but Thomas himself gets increasingly frustrated at having to explain what's going on in between songs. Eventually, to our relief, he cuts the show short, abandoning the final couple of songs and storming to his dressing-room. When the band returns, with a majestic, menacing "Final Solution" heralding The Modern Dance, Thomas seems less gratified by the ecstatic response than one might have imagined, comparing the huge wall of cheers with the polite smatter of applause that greeted the more recent work on which he'd lavished so much time and energy.

"Thank you very much," he says. "You have no idea how it breaks my heart. I have nothing but contempt for each and every one of you." His words, of course, being greeted with further good-natured cheers. He then explains how he won't be doing the album's characteristic metal percussion, ever since "some little snot-nose goth kid" came up to him after a gig and said, "Oh, Einstürzende Neubauten do that!". Neubauten, it transpires, get off lightly, compared to the contemptuous tongue-lashings meted out during the evening to Frank Black, Sting and Thom Yorke, insulted in a manner I won't repeat here. But The Modern Dance, despite Thomas's grudging disdain, is magnificently delivered, the blasted topography of its dark, industrial soundscape replicated with unnerving accuracy by a band featuring none of the original members bar the singer.

Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script

TV
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.

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week