Bill Bailey: Larks In Transit (4 stars)

This article is from 2018

Bill Bailey: Larks In Transit

credit: Andy Hollingworth

A warm embrace of our chaotic world in words and music

Despite chomping intensely on his pipe, quizzing the audience on matters historical and metaphysical, illuminating on the origins of the days of the week and knock-knock jokes, Bill Bailey is as topical and satirical as he's ever been in his latest show. Sardonically doom-mongering about Brexit, with some delightfully damning characterisations of Theresa May's cabinet, he also despairs about the stoking of abuse on social media, with his left-wing credentials and support for barn owls making him a target for various, pointedly vicious agendas.

You'd never call him sharp though, and to an extent, Bailey embraces the chaos and limbo he perceives swirling all around him. One of tonight's highlights was the fluffing of a song about a vole's self-affirmation, prompting him to sing it again in a Brummie accent, though only after a hilarious and impromptu tale of witnessing a Beatles tribute act in Tokyo.

Named Larks In Transit in homage to the wildlife documentaries he's fronted, Bailey's account of these adventures are bittersweet, though his expert knowledge of birds does inform some fascinating folio-in-horror movie revelations, featuring sounds that he samples back into his trademark musical tomfoolery. Mashing up genres, keys and instruments, he closes the first half with a timely rendition of the US national anthem reconfigured as a sinister, reds-under-the-bed, Russian polka of collusion. The best songs are his full-throated, heavy metal-inflected accounts of bumbling around the kitchen, even if a Tom Waits version of 'Old MacDonald' pushes them hard with some deceptive lyrical invention.

Touching on the global fame he's acquired, with sitcom Black Books still fondly remembered, some of his comedy peers have nevertheless cracked Hollywood while he's been fibbing to the LAPD to save his skin. Larks In Transit is a typically wide-ranging and enjoyably rambling show that enhances its recurring themes with Bill Bailey's effortless wit and musical virtuosity.

Bill Bailey: Larks In Transit is on tour until Saturday 16 June. Reviewed at Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow.

Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the information displayed here is accurate, always check with the venue before attending (especially during the Covid-19 pandemic).

Bill Bailey: En Route to Normal

The master of surreality new show En Route To Normal will 'trace lines through chaotic moments in history, [as] Bill seeks out parallels where human resilience and our ability to endure has got us through times of strife'.

3Arena, Dublin

Fri 14 Jan 2022


AO Arena, Manchester

Wed 22 Dec

£0–£45 / 0844 847 8000

Utilita Arena Birmingham

Tue 21 Dec

£35–£45 / 0871 945 6000

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