REVIEW: Russell Brand at Colston Hall, 5/5, by Louis Emanuel
OFF the back of a whirlwind week editing New Statesman and fending off Jeremy Paxman in a Newsnight interview which has gone viral, Russell Brand arrived in Bristol to a rapturous reception.
In the city for his Messiah Complex world tour, the stand-up, writer and actor, who manages to divide opinion like no other, generated perhaps the most deafening crescendo of noise heard from a Colston Hall crowd – before he had even opened his mouth.
When he stepped out on stage it was clear how unconditionally adored the man is – close to the point of worship.
His presence on stage demands attention, and his ability to have everyone hanging off his every word is spellbinding.
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So, there is perhaps no one better suited to speak of the cult of the personality, celebrity, politician or revolutionary, and how they all link.
Brand's latest show is all about the inspirational heroes of history – Ghandi, Che Guevara, Malcolm X, Jesus, and, of course, himself.
As if he did not have to prove the magnetic effect of his charm, the highly-charged comedian's first act was a saunter into the crowd where he came across a pair of hippies, and a girl who claimed he had saved her life and had some kind of tattoo to prove it.
A quick hop back on stage needed the help of security staff owing to the tightness of Brand's leather trousers, and the heels on his boots.
Dressed in his usual rock-star rags and dangling beads he talked about his life in Los Angeles before moving on to a familiar stand-up routine of his – a look at the local newspaper.
Flying through the Bristol Post to get a look at "what the 'ell is goin' on in this mad city", his attention was drawn to a letter from bored secretaries in 1971 to aliens of the future which had been discovered in a Bristol office – a reference point throughout the show.
This was Brand at his comedic best, improvising with streams of consciousness spilling out into cheeky cockney banter.
What came next was his attempt to control his frenzied chat and break-neck thought process into a seminar-style discourse on his heroes and how they are all like him.
It was Brand on unstoppable form, at home in the "post-Paxman world" he had created recently.
Strip back the show and you will find very little narrative and barely a thread of sense.
But he managed it with such confidence and emotion and the talent to spin a good yarn. The show descended back into madness towards the end when Brand's microphone cable got caught around his stool, encouraging him to play out a romantic encounter between him and the seat.
No sooner had he got back on track with his preaching, the show was drawn to a close with Brand comparing himself to Jesus.
The show concluded with Brand illuminated on stage by a single spotlight with his arms outstretched as the cheers returned, before he slumped to the floor to hug and kiss the thronging mass of women rushing out of their seats.