31 May 2014

Almost The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band at the Borderline

I first came across the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band waaaay back in the late 60's when they appeared on the children's TV show Do Not Adjust Your Set! and kept in touch, but at a distance, through their popular singles like Monster Mash.

Somewhere along the way I bought their first album, Gorilla (1967), and loved it.

And, of course, I was well aware of the other works of their former front-man Vivian Stanshall.

Finally, I met Roger Ruskin Spear a couple of times when we lived in the same road in North Kingston.

All that loose contact spread over a ridiculous number of years meant that I was up for seeing them live in their current incarnation Almost The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band which featured original members Roger Ruskin Spear (promoted to lead) and Rodney Slater (saxophone etc.) supported by Sam Spoons (drums and, er, spoons) and Dave Glasson (piano).

The venue was the Borderline which is something of a home for "established" bands and I have seen Space Ritual and Stackridge there several times.

It was the most informal atmosphere I think I have ever seen at a concert with the band, Roger mostly, talking to the audience like old friends, which I suspect several were.

The songs were old friends too and despite having just one of their albums I recognised almost everything that they did. The pinnacle of this familiarity came at the end of Big Shot when Roger left us to do the punchline.

The informality was also helped by the almost chaotic nature of the show. Roger explained that they were set up on stage in a mirror-image of their usual line-up and used this as an excuse for the several screw-ups where musical instruments and props were not where they expected them to be.

Far from looking unprofessional it added to the informality and charm. Nothing serious went wrong and the fact that some little things did just made them more human.

The music was all that I hoped it would be and was very much a greatest hits selection, though there was no Urban Spaceman for some reason. There were though great songs like Hunting Tigers, I'm Bored and Jollity Farm. That last one is currently being used in a TV ad and I hope the Bonzos are getting some money for that.

The audience interaction grew in to participation and even I was forced to sing for one of the songs as Roger walked through the audience thrusting a microphone at people. He also came down to the main floor for a couple of the songs, including the set-closing Monster Mash.

It took me a long time to get around to seeing something of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band live but it was worth the wait.

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