Friday, October 26, 2012

Poptastic fun - Frisky & Mannish review

Frisky & Mannish at The Corn Exchange, Newbury on October 3, 2012

I HOPE Frisky & Mannish realise that they impressed me so much on their first visit to Newbury, at New Greenham Arts last October, that not only have I broken my own golden rule about not seeing the same act twice within two years, but I have actually planned this write-up within 12 months of the last one specifically to spread the word about their twinklesome fabulousness. I even missed Red Dwarf legend Norman Lovett at Arlington Arts on the same night for this pair Now, that’s devotion.

This all for a musical comedy twosome who I first dismissed as a “bit pants” on seeing them as part of BBC Three’s Edinburgh Fringe coverage. But lo - on seeing them live, the scales fell from my eyes, and I realised that well known pop songs reworked by a delightfully flamboyant pair of Oxford University graduates (Laura Corcoran and Matthew Floyd Jones) is not only the future of comedy, but the future of pop music.

Their current tour, Extra Curricular Activities, sees an upgrade of venue size - in Newbury’s case, from NGA to The Corn Exchange - and a setlist which mixes the best bits of their previous shows with some new material which proves they still have their fingers firmly on the pop pulse. While their previous tour, Popcentre Plus, had something of a cod-educational bent to it, Extra Curricular Activities goes all out for greatest hits-style fun; cramming in as many pastiches as possible, from Cheryl (Cole, as was, until she recently decided she was famous enough to drop the surname entirely) to Karen Carpenter, and Dizzy Rascal to the Bee Gees.

F&M’s talent (apart from the chameleon-like vocal talents of Corcoran, Floyd Jones’ snake-like hips, and an overall fantabulous sense of style, of course) is spotting the similarities between performers or songs from entirely different genres, making them unlikely musical bedfellows, and then taking the idea and running with it until the audience twig that they were in fact right all along, and in fact the link between the disparate performers should be blindingly obvious. And so, the Phantom Of The Opera-like “mentor” of sultry poppet Lana del Rey was revealed to be the barrel-voiced singer of Canadian one hit wonders Crash Test Dummies; and “X Factor reject” Diana Vickers to be the unexpected vocal lovechild of 90s Community Service dodger Mark Morrison.

The F&M concept of “pop” was widened for this show with an educational glimpse into the world of Made In Chelsea for audience members who hadn’t seen it (all but one, it turned out; and the F&M precis was more than enough), and an insightful interview with Cheryl (the one who was Cole). Lots of life-affirming fun, enforced audience dancing and game-for-anything volunteers. Everyone should have a little bit of F&M in their lives; and on Saturday night, The Corn Exchange certainly did.

  • First published in the Newbury Weekly News on October 18, 2012

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