Russell Brand – Live Review – Hull City Hall
By Roger Crow, May 2022
A comedy gig, at 6pm, on a Sunday? Yes, it looks like an error, but here we all are. Packed to the rafters at Hull City Hall, waiting for Russell Brand, who is late. Fashionably so, obviously.
The intro music, which is turned up to 11, has my eardrums ringing, so when I think someone asks me what row we’re on, I have no clue.
There are a few latecomers, so when he walks down the aisle and climbs on stage, we know this is going to be a rather different gig.
And this is a very different show to the one I saw in York a few years ago, which still boasted the same sort of verbal gymnastics Russell is famous for, but now he’s a man on a mission. And he’s attracted a lot of followers. Folks who think it’s perfectly fine to record part of the gig and upload to wherever, despite Brand suggesting they don’t.
Like many comics with kids, there’s the inevitable observations of the things they say and do, only with a spin. There are times he will launch into a breathless line of thought, machine gunned out at stunning speed. There also times this feels less like a comedy gig and more like a political rally. We’re in year one of Russell’s revolution, and apparently by year five, major things will happen, which is very similar to the speech he gave to an incredulous Jeremy Paxman a few years ago.
The reason for most of his anger is of course Covid, lockdown and some VIPs’ response to it. Powerful people who told us to do one thing and they did another. You can imagine who they are.
Russell has suggested there will be a chance for photos, and he’s not wrong. The fans line up to meet their comedy saviour at half time, and he’s like some messianic leader who takes time for pics with fans, and ensures there’s little chance of me getting an ice cream.
“Fuelled by love and anger”
So half time goes on longer than expected as Russ presses the flesh, and is generally smashing to all his aficionados.
Russell has been off the drugs for a long time now, and his recollections about those times are genuinely funny. While he may be high on life, that sense of Eddie Izzard-style off-piste comedy needs a little more structure.
One genius move was having some folks fill in a questionnaire before the gig, which gives him a lot of comedy fuel. A gag about ‘Donna the drug dealer’s wife’, mentioned in one fan’s Q and A, is like catnip to Brand.
By the end of the gig I’ll admit I’m in need of less shouting into a microphone and more dialled down comedy. Ranting about lockdown parties is far funnier if you can actually hear the words.
Russell Brand is a rocket with a faulty guidance system fuelled by love and anger who was always destined for stratospheric highs. Though he goes off course a few times during the night, he’s still a sight to behold as he zig zags through events of the past two years, but sadly doesn’t mention his performance in Kenneth Branagh’s Death on the Nile, which was one of his most measured turns in years.
As a movie fan I would have loved to hear more about his adventures in Hollywood, but that’s another story for another time.
Obviously times are hard, but at a fraction of the price of one A-list comedy gig I saw recently, it was a real bargain.