❉ This is a good time gig for a good time audience, writes Eoghan Lyng. “Forget pastiche, this five piece is rocking”.
“This one goes back to our Hamburger days” Neil Innes cries, as he opens with the riff for Goose Step Mama, Phil Jackson and Ken Thornton filling the Ollie Halsall/Ricky Fataar harmonies nicely, with John Halsey (the other original Rutle) tying the beat together. Bassist Jay Goodrich is sporting a “Keep Calm and Barry Wom” t-shirt, instantly putting any accusations of pretention on the long finger. This is a good time gig for a good time audience.
Innes admits that after forty years that there are some Beatle influences in his songs – which is met with cheer. Interestingly, the John Lennon impression is only really evident on Imitation Song, the most recent Innes composition in the set, while Halsey’s Ringo impression is saved for Living In Hope (which is an all starr performance!). Otherwise, the Beatle references are few and far between, though a sparse, ukulele cover of George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass is a particularly sombre tribute to the fab Innes and Eric Idle had the closest relationship with.
Forget pastiche, this five piece is rocking, and many of the Archaeology songs are given extra bite. Questionaire is slow and haunting, just as Hey Mister is quick and riveting (impressive for an acoustic song). Kraut pop rocker Eine Kleine Middle Klasse Musik invites stomps and claps, and Easy Listening is more enjoyably laconic with silly pulled faces than it is on record. Major Happy sizzles with Hendrix arpeggios, with only the pyrotechnic heavy Joe Public disappointing.
But it’s the 1978 originals that everyone has gathered for in the Orán Mór. I Must Be In Love and Love Life are met with mass singalongs, Good Times Roll comes to life with that extra oomph from the bass amp. The wonderfully iconoclastic Piggy In The Middle is fittingly played for a Small Faces/Zappa t-shirt wearing clientele, while With A Girl Like You is played with strangely tasteful romance (couples waltz to this one longingly). Despite Halsey’s frequent comments on their advancing age, Innes sings Another Day and Let’s Be Natural with the ethereal pop dignity that they deserve and need with minimal fuss.
Innes is a seasoned professional, informing a heckler to at least heckle in some discernible tone, while the sight of a row of people holding C-H-E-E-S-E-A-N-D-O-N-I-O-N-S placards in orderly line is enough to lose Innes in chuckles during the middle eighth of the faux psychedelic song. He’s also not afraid to make digs at those he feels deserves them, at one point singing a mock shanty admiring Nigel Farage for all his wonderful deeds (Innes can’t think of any!).
Get Up and Go amps the band to the proverbial eleven, as Goodrich and Thornton take turns on Halsall’s vocal, before an unexpected drum solo leads the band into a wonderfully cheeky cover of Abbey Road closer The End (Thornton fires out all three fiery solos on his Gibson), closing their set with aplomb. Forget Rod. Tonight, The Rutles are more popular than The Beatles themselves!
❉ Eoghan Lyng is a writer, part-time English teacher and full-time lover of life