Tim Minchin, Hammersmith Apollo, 14 November 2019

Eight years’ ago, I bought two tickets to see Tim Minchin play the comedy prom at the Royal Albert Hall. Actually, I did not. The credit card was not accepted and I did not notice until the tickets didn’t arrive. By which time it was too late. 14 Months ago, I bought two tickets to see Tim Minchin play the Hammersmith Apollo on 14 November 2019. The tickets arrived about 2 weeks after purchase. I put them in a very safe place. I inspected them regularly to ensure they were real. Last night we cashed them in (left).

I can vouch for Brian Logan’s review in the Guardian. The summary on Wikipedia gives a sort-of set list.

When one is at the proms, just before the performance starts, a polite message goes around to turn off mobile phones. For this show, we are invited just to turn off our fucking phones and watch the show as a unique event. I sensed, probably, 100 per cent compliance (I remember having my mobile semi-confiscated at a Jack White concert in Munich once, not very friendly – Minchin’s approach seems much better).

Anyway, yes, he did start with himself and a piano. Then he revealed his 8-piece band (they were excellent, by the way). I now know that a male mid-life crisis is defined in terms of when one starts looking at time in decades instead of years. We learned about his formative years playing piano two nights-per-week at the Butterfly Club in Melbourne and that he is rather wealthy courtesy of the hit-musical, Matilda. He owns a house on the east coast of Australia and asks himself how he can be depressed with all he has. After living in LA for four years directing an animated feature and have it cancelled by Universal after they bought Dreamworks in some sort of tax write-off, does that explain and justify his feelings? We got all of that in the first half in monologue and music.

Tim Minchin performing in 2007, courtesy of nekonoir

The second half was much more upbeat. Optimistic, playful even. He clearly delighted in presenting his 8-minute rock opera, Cheese (and the audience enjoyed it, too). Cheese celebrates the art form – or maybe takes the piss out of it, not sure which – and sanctions camp double-ententes and debates about food allergies.

Minchin is best, though, when he is angry. The high point – and it was a serious summit – was his paen to Bob Dylan. Minchin told us that he is not a Dylan obsessive, but by goodness, could he write a song. Or two. Minchin picks up his acoustic guitar and feigns an attempt at emulating Dylan. The result…the best thing I have seen and heard in a good long time. No one escapes. Rightly.

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