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Stag Party

Ashby 20th Anniversary Charity Special: Ian D Montfort, Andrew Bird, Ivan Brackenbury, Geoff Norcott, Daliso Chaponda, Paul Sinha, and Steve Royle

Tonight I was in Ashby at the Lyric Rooms for the Funhouse 20th anniversary charity special. This had the strongest line up of any gig I’ve attended. Seven headliners, all with different styles, all at the top of their game and all having to keep their sets tight, hence this was a night with no weak links or dips in the energy. Not only was this gig live, it was also being broadcast online for those who hadn’t been able to get a ticket, which was a wonderful idea and this also meant that I got to see Big Jon at the gig, along with a host of other friends.

Spiky Mike, dressed like Beetlejuice, had the time of his life tonight. Surrounded by friends, celebrating a big event, raising money for three charities and providing a superb night of entertainment – who wouldn’t look so happy? Mike kept it tight at the top, speaking just to a few people, before bringing on our first act.

Ian D Montfort

Montfort is such a convincing psychic that he opened the show with a disclaimer that James Randi would have been proud of, explaining that he is as psychic as any other medium, a statement that works wonderfully whatever you make of so called mediums. He was amazed at how many people thought it was real, talking about a review he’d received that had spectacularly missed the point. We were then given a wonderfully tongue in cheek performance that emphasised just how well thought out this character is. The Shakespearean reading was fantastic.

Andrew Bird

Bird had a great gig, opening by roasting Mike, which naturally, everyone enjoyed. He then gave the audience some rock solid material. Bird is a storyteller of magical talent and his choice of words got the most out of everything he spoke about. The closing callback gave a definite feeling of completeness to this set.

Ivan Brackenbury

Brackenbury is a gold plated act who can’t really go wrong and tonight was no exception. This was a clever performance with something for everyone in it. Even those with limited musical knowledge get the jokes, as he repeats the important lines. It was a true pleasure to see some new material in this set, which helps keep it fresh. I don’t know how often Steve Royle has seen Brackenbury, but it was great to watch him laughing his head off at a fellow artist.

Geoff Norcott

We resumed after the intermission with Norcott, whom I’ve not seen for a while. He went straight into material, which was universally strong and tangible. There was nothing that no one couldn’t get a grasp of. Dog owners, middle class, nicknames, all hit home hard.

Daliso Chaponda

Chaponda opened with a great joke about it being a charity gig and from there his material and natural charisma carried the show. It was great to see him gaining applause as well as laughter. His story about the merger interview was cracking.

Paul Sinha

There was a lot of love in the room for Sinha. Even before he’d reached the stage, you could feel that the audience had a special place for him in their hearts. I not only admire his material, which is strong, but also the fact that he trusts the intelligence of the audience to get his reference points. At no time does he talk down to them by explaining something. He’s also very aware of the audience and the energy in the room. This makes for a powerful combination. This was a great set.

Steve Royle

Closing the show was Royle, a born entertainer and he played the room like a fiddle. He built up the energy and brought the whole audience into his performance, making it feel like a community event for all. The carol singing was spectacular, but for me, it was his interactions with Mr Manky Monkey that were the real highlight. His reaction to the arm was superb.


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