WHEN Eddie Izzard announced he would be undertaking a world tour proper – offering his tangent-travelling talents to 26 countries across all continents – I had concerns he may not factor in a North East visit.
Thankfully, the ensuing schedule of dates, including stop-offs in Latvia, Estonia, Belgrade, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, Istanbul and Germany, put my mind at ease, as well as a big X on the calendar’s international Star Wars day – May the Fourth.
Now, I can’t be sure if the force was with me during a day of chores on Saturday afternoon (although a mini light saber battle did take place in between washes) but by the evening, the Force Majeure certainly was.
It had been a while since I’d had the pleasure of a meander through the melting pot of the Izzard subconscious, but within the first 10 minutes of his gig at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle, it was clear it was mind-bending pick-and-mix business as usual.
Following a suitably classy entrance, the self-styled “action transvestite” (a sartorial leaning currently manifesting itself via a subtle combination of black nail varnish, a smidgen – or should that be smudgen – of eye liner and heeled boots under his manly suit trousers) started ticking subjects off by the handful.
The surreal nature of carousels; the Romans (who later turned out to be fanatical plumbers); Robin Hood and his conscience’s Hob Nob weak spot; UKIP; English expletives on Danish adverts; the consistent bad news when it comes to acts of God; fascists; and Buddhism with its spectrum of eyebrow enlightenment had all been addressed.
And it has to be said, in the beginning, this was Eddie at his least energetic.
There was a definite feeling the 51-year-old needed warming up. Maybe it was the half-full venue, which couldn’t help but put a bit of a dampener on proceedings. When you can hear yourself laughing because the next person is a row away, it’s never great.
Never mind, it’s testament to his wonderfully flighty flights of fancy that before long he had us engulfed in a world where Cheese Monkeys come up in conversation a lot more than you might think; the inconsistencies of Batman’s evolution offer more than a dollop of food for thought; and action film musicals seem like the most sensible thing in the world (I’m particularly excited about a jazz hands Die Hard finale).
We were also treated to the revolutionary concept that boredom trumps fear; the disadvantages of having a high voice if you have ambitions for power; the observation that you never see a lion pulling up with a popped hamstring; and the notion that dinosaur and cow ghosts should be everywhere – with the latter probably sticking quite closely to their on-earth vocab.
Later, we mused the likelihood that a mole had struck gold at some point (and the likely parade in its honour) and heard of a young Eddie’s genuine SAS ambitions, which offered an unlikely get-out when he was caught stealing make up.
All of the above – united by a big picture theme of inclusion and understanding – was delivered in his signature excitable, pinball-esque style, which makes a clearly tried, tested and honed set seem plucked from the air. And Wikipedia.
The suitable appearance of Darth Vader during the encore saw the Star Wars villain having a heavy breathe-off with a God dressed to snorkel while they waited to hear who was going to get the last portion of pasta arrabiata from the canteen.
It’s truly great to think I could have a reminiscent laugh with people from 26 countries about that particular visual once the Force Majeure tour is done with the world. Bravo.
You can read a full interview with Eddie Izzard in the May issue of Culture magazine, click here to read it