Back to the 80’s (FringeTIX)
Scott John @ Belgian Beer Café
7:00pm, Fri 9 Mar 2007
I’m an eighties child. All my early musical loves came from the 80’s – HoJo, Nik Kershaw, Tears For Fears. I feel genuine remorse that I wasn’t in the UK when the “Frankie Say” phenomenon occurred. So seeing this show was a cert. Seeing it on opening night – raw, unpolished, 20 minutes late, 25 minutes overtime – was a risk.
But what the hell, it was my birthday, so I figured that a bit of reminiscence was in order. And so I turned up at the Belgian Beer Café, which has an excellent upstairs venue. Upstairs. Which is a complete nightmare for staff to manage, since the stairs are in a toilet thoroughfare of the pub. So there’s people queuing for the show streaming out into the throngs gathered for a noisy Friday night drinkie-poos. Traffic jam? Well, it got a shitload worse when peeps from the previous show came out and decided to mill around post-show.
Anyhoo, it was a late start. As the (excellent first-night) crowd filed in, there were some cracking 80’s hits on the sound system – my neighbour and I had a great time testing each others’ knowledge of 80’s miscellanea (don’t argue with me about Limahl… though why I feel pride at that, I’ll never know). Eventually – belatedly – Scott John takes to the stage, an unassuming chap replete with a (sadly) crisp-new Ghostbusters t-shirt. He begs for someone to sit down the front; only his father obliges, a prospect that – rightly – terrifies him.
John’s act starts slowly, with a little dig at the audience and then – in hindsight – a summary of the evening’s content. A misguided look at global politics, followed by an odd ode to moustaches to the tune of We Didn’t Start The Fire. At which stage, I was thinking “nooooooooooooooo” and checking my watch, while reflecting on how much Storm Front sucked. I mean, really… it was a fucking shocker. Contender for Worst. Album. Ever.
The core of the show, however, revolved around John’s description of the Five Eighties Looks – New Romantic, Corporate Casual, The Stud, The Bogan, and The Fun-Loving Girl. These started super-detailed and, as time ran out, become far more brief. I have to question John’s reasoning for asking me to model the denim jacket of The Stud, though – the blind bugger must have mistaken me for someone else (I would’ve thought myself a Corporate Casual). Another point of interest was his list of the Top 6 Worst Music Videos, which was pretty well compiled – I’d never seen MC Miker G & DJ Sven‘s Holiday Rap video, nor Billy Squier‘s diabolical Rock Me Tonite (oddly enough, I mentioned to my neighbour that the video reminded me of Flashdance; and what did I see on the Wikipedia page? Mention of the same :)
There was a (crap) attempt at a self-penned new-wave pop song, a great analysis of the lyrics of Vienna, and a misty-eyed look at Magic Mountain. Christ, he even talked about old 80’s confectionary. And Stutter FM. And A-Ha karaoke tips. And Velcro. And Hungry Jacks sunnies. Minutia.
The gem, though, was John’s letter to the Men Without Hats, posing a query about lyrics to The Safety Dance. The reply is an absolute blinder – this bit alone is worth the price of admission.
John has a genuinely likable approach, and his material was reasonable – not exactly what I was thinking, but I suppose that’s what makes these things interesting… but seriously, who misses the cheap-and-easy ZZ Top Beard joke? The crowd was super-enthusiastic, though, and that really helps bolster the enjoyment of some gigs – at one stage, John mentioned that the benefit of going to an opening night Fringe show is that you get 10% extra… all the shit jokes that will be cut from subsequent performances. As jokes fell flat, he’d mutter to the sound engineer that they should cut that bit, and inevitably someone from the audience would yell “nah, that was awesome.” It was a crowd that wanted to have fun, and I’m pretty sure they had it.
Anyhoo – this finished 35 minutes late. Good thing I had a scheduled 45 minutes between show, wasn’t it?