Jasper Carrott’s Stand Up & Rock @ Dudley Town Hall – 21 April 2017

Posted by Zyllah Moranne-Brown on Friday Apr 21, 2017 Under 60s, 70s, 80s, Comedy, Rock

Review by Zyllah Moranne-Brown

And so to a hidden little gem of a venue in the heart of the Black Country, to see a legendary local comedian with friend and legendary musician in tow, with a bunch of friends. What more could you want on a Friday night, as we pop along to Dudley Town Hall, to catch up with Jasper Carrott, Bev Bevan and friends and to Stand Up and Rock.

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Dudley Town Hall. Right in the centre of Dudley Town Centre. Built in 1928 at a time when civic building were built with civic pride, the wooden doors, leaded windows and cornice plaster-work in the valued hall only made me wonder, in all the years of going to gigs across the Midlands and beyond, why this was the first time I’ve ever been here. Halls across the borough have historically been community events, but now – reinvigorated, there is a chance that this little gem could rise and become one of the venues across the West Midlands. The box office and front of house staff as helpful and friendly as the Symphony Hall, we take to our seats, alongside 900 others.

Tonight’s set will be in two parts, Jasper Carrot doing two half hour sets, followed by Bev Bevan and his band for two sets. These guys, are ok, Brummies – not quite home turf, but hey definitely the front doorstep, with one foot inside their home.

Jasper Carrot. Starting his career late sixties early seventies touring folk clubs, his comedy overtaking his singing – culminating in a Top 5 UK Hit with ‘Funky Moped’ (produced interestingly enough by some bloke called Jeff Lynne, who’s sideline by that time was in some band called ELO).  By the 80s he became a stalwart of TV for over 20 years  -‘An Audience with Jasper Carrot’, ‘Carrott’s Lib’, ‘Carrot’s Commercial Breakdown’, ‘Carrot Confidential’, spoof drama ‘The Detectives’ and sitcom ‘All About Me.’ In the mid-noughties he started off with ‘Jasper Carrott’s Rock With Laughter’ – invariably a Christmas affair at the NEC in Brum, with friends like Bevan.

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The friendly Carrot takes to the stage bang on 7.30pm, and the stand-up starts immediately…. “Good to see you – Friday night and I’m in…. Dudley.” The area he knows well, the gags come thick and fast  – “Dudley Town Hall – you only play it twice in your career….” ( a sarcastic nod to the fact that this is the first of TWO nights…)  He’s the expert in the three line gag, setting the scene, a twist and boom! Slightly blue, double entredre, but never openly swearing and gags with a local relevance that get the audience in stitches. This first set is a tad ‘grumpy old man’ – reflection on age and change (not looking anywhere near his 72 years), “Twerking..” as he says,…“is Parkinson’s for 25 year olds…..” Taking selfies years ago meant something ENTIRELY different! Technology – what is that? TV has 200 channels, not the three in his day. And no remote control. “TV had to be really shit to make you get out the chair… ” The gags links and flow, from hair and tattoos, airports, astrology and beyond. Aliens, he declares, do indeed exist  – every single one of them tows a caravan….

His second set starts off with how the band describe audiences – usually by TV programme. Tonight is definitely ‘Top Gear’ or Ab Fab.’ You don’t want to be ‘Antiques Roadshow, Silent Witness’, or ‘Pointless.’ Why isn’t he on TV anymore – it’s simple – he can’t cook!  And he couldn’t get away with the gags anymore he ponders – Trump (as we all know) is a  bloody arsehole!  “Where’s Lee Harvey Oswald when you need him?” We laugh and grimace – “If someone took a pot shot at him – would you shout -‘Donald! …..Duck! ?” He digs out some older gags – ‘Car Insurance’ with a new spin. A story around the late Princess Diana, about grandchildren  “…like herpes you can’t get rid of them” before picking up his guitar and doing some piss takes of songs…. ‘Lady Godiva’ an irreverent gag about Charles and Camilla. “That’s the knighthood gone then….”

For the first of his two sets drummer Bev Bevan and his band take to the stage. Bev Bevan, friend of Carrott (they worked together in a department store their teenage years), member of The Move and of ELO, and also one time drummer with Black Sabbath in the 80s. The history of ELO is complicated to say the least – splitting and reforming, different versions out and about at different times. Jeff Lynn is currently out and about with Jeff Lynne’s ELO, but Bevan has also been out and about over the years with ELO II and The Orchestra.

Tonight’s musical set starts off with Focus’s ‘Hocus Pocus’, starting with a great icon rock riff and yodel, before Sabbath’s ‘Paranoid.’  It’s heavy, Bevan the thunder-god, a tad weird watching everyone is seated to this metal classic. And to accompany each song, two large screens above the stage, with some great iconic photos, many black and white, of the original and others who gained success with each track.  Special guest vocalist tonight, another local boy Geoff Turton, of The Rockin’ Berries (and also recording under the name of Jefferson), takes to the vocals with a Beatles medley; ‘Drive My Car,’ (featuring footage on the screen of Brum in the 60s), ‘Day Tripper’, and ‘Paperback Writer.’  Turton declares he’s knackered “….there’s a £1,000 of winter fuel allowance payments on this stage….’’ he quips. Indeed, Turton’s 73, and Bevan 72, plus Carrott playing compere. With an introduction to female vocalist Suzie Woo, a change of genre with The Supreme’s ‘ You Keep Me Hanging On’, Carol King’s / Aretha Franklin’s ‘(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman’, Four Tops ‘Reach Out’,  Lil Richard’s ‘Get Ready (Here I Come)’; set complete witty ‘Land of a Thousand Dances.’

Second set  we turn to The Rolling Stones (once again accompanied by great photography), ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ and  ‘Honky Tonk Woman.’ Creedence Clearwater Revival / Tina Turner ‘Proud Mary’; Woo back on vocal duties. Dusty Springfield’s ‘I Don’t Know What To Do With Myself’ and a rendition with Turton; Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes ‘Up Where We Belong.’ Richard Gere in his officer’s uniform is on screen; song complete with a poignant images of Joe Cocker at the end, who passed away in 2014. Turton takes his turn with his hit, as featured in recent film ‘Legend’ about the Krays, ‘He’s In Town.’ Before everyone is on stage and it’s the Quo ‘Down Down’ morphing into the Carrott’s – ‘Funky Moped,’ before back to the Quo with ‘Rockin All Over The World.’ And and on screen tribute to Rick Parfitt, who died in 2016.

Want some more – indeed – as the immense track booms out, that orchestral thud thud thud- ELO’s ‘Mr Blue Sky’ followed by ‘Don’t Bring Me Down.’ Set complete, the huge ELO spaceship on screen, floating above the earth. Huge cheer and standing ovation.

There was something surprisingly quite magical about tonight. Sometimes, at a gig, everything falls into place, that as a punter, you didn’t expect. Yes it was retro, definitely a reflection on the past, but a celebration, a group of immensely talented people on stage just having  blast. The pure undeniable quality of Jasper Carrott’s comedy, the thundergod legend that is Bevan, all playing in this intimate venue right on their doorstep. Bevan, along with the other members of ELO – Jeff Lynne and Roy Wood – were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame just two weeks ago. That in itself shows the legionary status of one of our local bands. But there was not just one member of the Hall of Fame in the room tonight, but TWO. Standing at the back, just watching on with friends like the rest of us, fellow inductee, Zeppelin frontsman, Robert Plant enjoyed the show too. It was kinda striking and poignant, given what immense success these pair have had and undoubted influence on the music industry internationally, that they were both here, in a small town in the Black Country, just enjoying this intimate gig like we all did.  Those aliens may indeed be towing caravans, but clearly sprinkled some stardust in Dudley as they passed on by….


Dudley Borough Halls are renamed and rebranded – covering Dudley Stourbridge and Halesowen, look out for some great upcoming gigs – including Russell Kane, Jenny Eclair, Rich Hall’s Hoedown,  Gary Delaney, Milton Jones, Matt Forde, Lee Nelson, Jethro and just announced Jason Manford. Find out more by visiting boroughhalls.co.uk and keep up on the latest news on social media – follow them on Facebook and Twitter @boroughhalls.

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