Live Review: 25 Years of Reeves and Mortimer: The Poignant Moments, Birmingham Barclaycard Arena

Reviewed by Matt Cartmell

This triumphant tour, punctuated by Bob's triple heart bypass surgery, celebrates 25 years of their television career - which commenced with the groundbreaking insanity of Vic Reeves Big Night Out.

That TV show not only inspired a new generation of surreal comedy, but perhaps more importantly inspired my friend and I to start a Big Night Out Appreciation Society Facebook group. It's a place where 7,000 oddballs can gather to post gems like "a cat with the face of Dean Martin" apropos of nothing, and often at worrying times of the night.

So its great news for us that the tour features a good measure of Big Night Out tomfoolery, alongside classics right up to their internet rebirth care of Fosters lager and the subsequent brilliant House of Fools sitcom.

It's always going to be a challenge for Vic and Bob to satisfy a crowd made up of fans from so many of their incarnations. But they blend the eras as skilfully as Bob believes his toupee to be blended (it is from a supplier called 'Check Out The Blend' after all) - most notably in a That's Justice meets Dove from Above finale. 

But what do this audience make of the obscure likes of Big Night Out's Novelty Island and Mr Wobbly Hand? Many around us look mystified until Dr Shakamoto from Afternoon Delights takes the stage in his trademark owl sweater. 

The good news for those more recent to the church of Reeves and Mortimer is that the newer material generally translates better to the arena than the bar room catchphrase antics of their first series.

A new song claiming that Henry VIII was capable of flight and would fly around "pissing on things", raises a huge laugh. As does a just-the-right-side-of-puerile skit featuring cardboard cutouts of Simon Cowell.

And oddly the bits that get the most genuine laughter are two newly created video clips of the Free Runners and Geordie Jeans -complete with a cameo from Ulrika-ka-ka. 

Part of their obvious skill with a non sequitur is in their fascination with the non-fundamental details in life. And tonight they trip over such stuff at a mind-boggling rate: from Woman's Own to Roman coins to sewage farms and X Factor judges in the first few minutes alone.

As an older man, Vic's face is even more suited to comedy - he can bring the house down with a sideways glance; while Bob's wit is as sharp as it's ever been, presumably honed in his own podcast and panel show forays.

But the real magic is in, yes, those poignant moments. When Vic ad libs to make Bob laugh; when you feel as though you're watching some private joke between two lads that has got wildly out of control. 

In the end, the tour is a celebration of a partnership that shifted comedy in a strange new direction but did so on the strength of genuine friendship. It's surrealism with a warm fuzzy glow.

The tour ends on December 16. Details of the rest of the shows here.

 

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