Angel Air 2014
Holiday Innes’ Book Of Records’ final edition comes alive – and well, live.
No matter how many faces this man has worn over the years, the wide smile never left none of ’em, yet for all the comedy routine in play, Neil Innes’ inner tunefulness blinds the brightest way when he’s the ringleader of the pack. FATSO are the latest of the bands and troupes on the veteran’s CV, and their latest – arguably last ever if that’s not a joke – concert trek includes many a song Neil had a hand in writing or at least hanging in public, scattered here over two CDs. From simple pastiches such as THE RUTLES’ “I Must Be In Love” to sophisticated humoresques like THE BONZOS’ “Urban Spaceman” with inroads into Innes’ less famous solo stuff, it’s a hell of effervescent, exuberant show where even the brief soundcheck of “Testing One Two” gets a melody – and a story, as the main culprit explains in the booklet – of its own.
High on harmonies, the ensemble consisting of PATTO’s John Halsey, the original Barry Wom, on drums, ROCKPILE’s Billy Bremner on guitar, bassist Brian Hodgson and Roger Rettig on a slide, may reproduce the Fabs’ and Bob’s manner in, respectively, “Get Up And Go” and “Protest Song” or shoot a doo-wop arrow in “Elvis And The Disagreeable Backing Singers” to highlight their leader’s mundane stance, but the quintet are at their most sensual in the poignant take on fan George Harrison’s “Beware Of Darkness” as well as country numbers in the vein of “Crystal Balls” which involves a master-class for the audience. Still, social satire is always near, be it the MONTY PYTHON’s “Philosophers Song” and fairly recent “Eye Candy” with its mad Spaniard chorus, befitting one captivated by TV, that echoes the old, if ever-actual, “Ego Warriors” linking the drift to the bloody drama of “Brave Sir Robin” – totally unexpected. And then, there is Fats’ “I’m Walking” to ground the spectacle to the rock tradition before the “Rutalot” medley takes the canon out to piss on it and dry.
Yet take parody out of it all, and the pieces still stand tall, which is a testament to Neil Innes’ special force. Indeed, they don’t make ’em like this anymore.