As a child, I grew up listening to more or less the same music as my father, and to this day I would say I am heavily influenced by his tastes. Indeed, the same could be said when it comes to many other things, namely comedy.
Among the many video tapes, CDs and DVDs, I remember he owned one of Billy Connolly’s ‘World Tour of New Zealand’ DVDs. Countless times I watched it, going back to listen to the stories by the Big Yin that I loved the most, at times laughing uncontrollably.
That is what Connolly is, you see, a story teller. He can sometimes make one story last an eternity before eventually coming round to an incisive and witty punch line that leaves the audience in raptures. You should not go into his shows expecting a laugh a minute.
Or at least that was what I was expecting when I bought my ticket to see his Saturday night performance at Nottingham’s Royal Concert Hall – Connolly’s first performance in the city for over five years.
It was the first time I had been there, and I must say I was impressed walking in. The tiered seating shot up into the heavens at a very steep angle with the lights going down atmospherically as the Glaswegian comedian walked on stage at precisely eight o’clock.
It was almost eleven before Connolly finished his set, an impressive stand of almost three hours, and without an interval break, I might add.
Impressive it might well have been, but ultimately that was where the performance failed for me. Yes, there were moments of great humour, but I found myself checking the time at around half past nine and wondering how much longer it was actually going to go on for.
Connolly’s habit of going off on a tangent is something that he has become famous for, but even as he described it himself: “I often start a story and forget to go back to it.”
That happened on more than one occasion during the performance, and it was often difficult to keep track of what exactly he was saying. You could hear members of the audience muttering to each other, enquiring as to what he had just said.
He was recently named as the most influential British stand-up comedian off all time by the TV channel Dave, and I fully understand why. But watching him at the Concert Hall, I couldn’t help wondering if he had lost his touch.
The level of swearing would have been enough to make even Ozzy Osbourne wince, while his tendency to drift from tangent to tangent became tedious and confusing at times.
There are many young comedians out there who have well and truly overtaken Billy Connolly now – many of whom are able to sell out the Capital FM Arena on consecutive nights. While Connolly can fill the 2,500 capacity Concert Hall two nights in a row, however, no one can blame him for making the most of it.
Yes it is worth going to see, but no, it is not going to be the gut-busting experience you might otherwise have expected.
Platform rating: 6/10