Live Review: John Shuttleworth, Leicester Square Theatre

News: Big Tour for John Shuttleworth

John Shuttleworth's back. In every sense. This is the title of his current tour and it also refers to his latterday lumber problems that have been giving him a right bit of pain. It also, handily, refers to the fact that after looking for a while like he was settling into cosy old age and coasting a little this tour marks a Trebor Mint-strong return to form. Oof!

There are no dramatic late-career curveballs. This is Shuttleworth rolling out some new songs and classic hits – "the beat goes on" – from Eggs And Gammon, The Man Who Lived On The M62, Pigeons in Flight to Two Margarines on the Go . In fact the latter number is a nice bit of cross promotion. He also has a new book out offering household tips, entitled Two Margarines And Other Household Dilemmas, discussing burning issues of the day such as the size of Curly Wurlys and why shower gel resembles Swarfega.

But back to the stage show, where there is a nice bit of narrative about John coveting Joan Chitty's Citroen Berlingo. You won't hear a better rhyme for "Berlingo" than in his song about the French car. It's every bit as good as his classic: "I’ll undertake your burial. Or my wife Mary will..." 

Joan is a bit poorly – calm down, it's not Coronavirus – and may have to stop driving. Could her Berlingo be coming up for sale? Could John really be prepared to give up his Austin Ambassador Y Reg? Could he really be this opportunistic?

The songs, both old and new, are delivered with a veritable flourish and neatly broken up by onstage phone conversations with John's wife Mary and his erstwhile manager Ken Worthington. Yes, John has joined the smartphone age and has a state of the art "Hawaii" which he puts next to the microphone so that we can all hear his negotiations over upcoming hospice gigs.

Shuttleworth is an interesting, intriguing phenomenon. His creator Graham Fellows totally inhabits the role, which is not at all suprising as he has been doing Shuttleworth for three decades now and is genuinely about the same age as the Sheffield songsmith, maybe even slightly older. Fellows has grown into Shuttleworth's face. Or has Shuttleworth grown into Fellows face? 

This raises an oddity though. Given that Shuttleworth has always been around the age of 61 that would mean that currently he would have been a teenager during the punk rock years. Shouldn't he be doing nostalgic cover versions of The Clash and The Buzzcocks and not bossa nova beats on his organ? Maybe we can look forward to a new album in the future, John Shuttleworth Sings The Stranglers.

Anyway, by the end of the night the hits just keep on coming, the glitterball is going hell for leather and both audience and star are punching the air in ecstasy. Doctor Theatre, plus a promising new booking arranged by Ken, appears to have worked its magic and the sciatica is gone. Oof indeed.

Tour dates here.

Buy Two Margarines And Other Domestic Dilemma Here.

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