Ross Noble is the compère for the night and a man high on drugs. I don't like people who take drugs. Mainly customs officers.
He initially admits to being off his tits on Beechams. When he returns later he says Benylin and gets heckled for the discrepancy. Perhaps he needed a bigger buzz. He certainly needs testing for performance-enhancing drugs as the jokes are whizzing by.
Ross Noble points to a guy with a large foam hand in the audience for a mickey take and when the guy points back at him Noble's top button pops open and reveals his moobs (his words not mine). It's a neat trick, but I think as a wizard you need to choose your subjects more wisely.
The first act are the unimaginatively-titled Choir With No Name, a bunch of people who have experienced homelessness. They are enjoyable like a bad audition on Britain's got Talent. The mics seem positioned for deep throat giraffes so maybe it is a case of Choir With No Sound Check.
They open with 'Fairytale of New York', originally by The Pogues and the tragically-killed Kirsty MacColl. Choir With No Name however were mowed down by the soundcheck not a speed boat. It's not a Big Issue tho.
Their version of 'Last Christmas' although not melodic is on a par with Marcus Collins. Last Christmas I gave them some soup. The very next day they had some more soup.
'Do They Know It's Christmas?' poses a daft question - why would Africans care about a Christian festival? Also, if it is miles to water, chances are it's even further to a bookies so I doubt too many will be bothered about snow at Christmas if they can't get a bet on. The guy singing Bono's line has a better range, but that's not hard. Tonight thank God it was him instead of U2.
Ross Noble comes out at the end of their set and notices one of the choir trying to get a photo so the guy gets sent to the edge of the stage for a pic with the adoring people who purchased their tickets much earlier than me. He gets told to stage dive into the crowd and musters the most pathetic girlie stage dive ever.
Jo Brand comes out and threatens to take the stalls out with her version of a stage dive. We are so far back (up in the gods. I must be a Dami-God) she looks anorexic, but she makes a Big Splash tonight. Would've been tsunami-like if she had gone through with it. I remember one time her saying she was anorexic as every time she looked in the mirror she saw a fat person. She reckons laughter is always the best medicine although not when she used it on a guy with impotence. I can kinda understand why that guy lacked wood.
Keeping the show ticking over they move all of Graham Coxon's band equipment out on a rolling stage post-Jo, but “Bully's Special Prize” is not a speedboat for a change. Breathe easy Kirsty.
Cox out for Crisis! Graham Coxon, the third most recognisable member of Blur, is a menace tonight. Dressed like a naughty Dennis in red and black stripes, he catapults a barrage of jangly indie power pop at a half-interested audience who wonder who he is. It is all reasonable fodder but due to his unfamiliarity and lack of stage presence, it's more Sit Down and Mock as far as the audience are concerned.
When comedic piano-rockster Tim Minchin comes to the stage there is a hairy stand-off between him and Ross Noble. It's like two stags ready to rumble. That's just the status quo though.
Tim Minchin is entertaining and the audience hang on his every word as he tells a story about his wife. He explains how girls are born with all of their 40,000 ova already in place. His 8-month-pregnant grandmother-in-law fled from nazi-occupied Poland in 1939. His wife's mum was the good egg amongst the other 40000 eggs in 1939 – how cool and heroic is it that she made it out? Anne Frank banging on about how cramped she was in the cupboard makes her look quite the whiner in comparison.
Minchin plays up to the fact a female fan faints and has to be dragged out. “How Rock 'n' Roll” he proclaims. It's almost like Anne Frank nodding off and falling out of the cupboard like porn out of a teenage boy's cupboard.
Minchin sings 'Confessions', a song in three movements. Like many of his other songs, he spends a minute or so building up to the punchline with a story about how feminists have it right (they do not!) and how men stare too much etc. It's quite empowering up until the change of tone “Fuck, I love boobs though!”. The second movement 'Poverty (Altruism)' builds up in a similar way and we wonder where he is heading. When “Fuck, I love boobs though!” comes it's a juicy jugstaposition and still a laugh out loud moment due to impeccable comedy timing.
Judging by the excitement it seems the majority of the audience and a collective noun of kids in the wings have come for the Modfather. Weller, Weller, wonderful feller, helping out the alleyway dweller. He may be knocking and rocking on a bit but is still an energetic and accomplished performer. It is a case in point of letting the music do the talking as he says very little during his set. He is a man of few words. Quiet quiet words.
It's a keen blast of Weller but it doesn't quite blow us away. Standing firm in the warming wind is 'Trees', a symphony in 5 movements which he barks out from a giant disposable camera of a piano. Not sure what it was with Minchin and Weller tonight with their movements, I waited til I got home.
'Trees' sways through many musical landscapes and is quite unWellerlike in many ways as he branches out into many genres. The song was inspired by the death of his father (and former manager) John in 2009. It stemmed from a visit to his dad in a hospice near the end. The Trees are the older residents, twisted up and knotty, rooted in a waiting room ready to leave this earth.
By the end, the kids who have been dragged along by their ageing rocker parents are nodding off to the modding. They are all brought to life as Weller comes out for an encore and the Jamdemic 'Town Called Malice', a song about his (and my) home town Woking. It's like Last Night At The Proms as everyone rises to their feet for the first time and sings along triumphantly to his catchiest number. Even the dozing kids jump up and heretically modify the Macarena dance to the lyrics.
It's a successful night with £168,000 raised for Crisis. You can do your bit by donating £1.50 by texting CRISIS to 70444. When you see homeless guys with signs saying “IT COULD BE YOU HERE!” don't take that as a sign you need to keep your money in your pocket. Make a change, give some change!