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Genius and silliness from the original urban spaceman

Neil Innes: A People’s Guide to World Domination – The Ropetackle Centre, Shoreham

Neil Innes is charm personified, and a delightful entertainer. He’s also a bit of a musical genius, although much of that has been hidden over the years by the consummate silliness of much of his output.

Neil Innes - nice guitar, but someone has stolen his shoes and socks

His pretty much two-hour show at Shoreham’s intimate Ropetackle Centre was a reminder that while much of his stuff is gentle satire and musical parody, he has a genius for hummable tunes and sharp, witty lyrics.

Billed as A People’s Guide to World Domination, Innes’ show amiably ambled through his 45-year career from the jazz nonsense of The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band (Urban Spaceman, My Brother Makes The Noises For The Talkies etc) to Monty Python (Brave Sir Robin from Monty Python and The Holy Grail, plus Run Away – one song that landed on the cutting room floor), The Rutles (a glorious medley of Fab Four spoof numbers including Doubleback Alley and Cheese & Onions) and TV’s Innes’ Book of Records.

He spun stories from the past, dropped some cheerful one-liners into the mix, and moved from a variety of guitars/ukulele to keyboard and back. The odd mistake, duff chord and forgotten lyric just added to the charm and he easily had a mature crowd joining in and doing impromptu Mexican waves.

More modern songs like Real World (about being a silver surfer), the cheerful reggae You’re Never Alone At The Bottom of The Pile, the silly rebelliousness of Ego Warriors and the call-and-response gospel spoof Slaves of Freedom demonstrated he still has a decent voice, and touching encore How Sweet To Be An Idiot was a fitting tribute to his mix of innocence, tunefulness and joy.

An enduring and original talent – still going strong at 65. Catch him while you can – you won’t be disappointed.

Check out http://www.neilinnes.org/

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