REVIEW: Another F***ing Variety Show @ Jesterval, BALTIC Square (12.6.15) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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As Another F***ing Variety Show rolls in to Gateshead, we arrive expectant of a veritable feast of the weird, the wonderful and the downright brilliant. As this evening’s host, the rather sultry Lili La Scala, takes to the stage, she’s quick to hit the audience with her charms. Her presence alone seems to be sending them wild, as she shimmies off stage and juggler Mat Ricardo takes to the stage. His feats of dexterity invoke awe and astonishment; all delivered with a hefty dose of comedy, an incredible opener to tonight’s packed bill, he fires up the crowd with ease.

Lili plays the role of the genial host excellently this evening, her interspersions invoking laughter from her interesting stories, whilst her beautiful tracks cause huge excitement. Magician Paul Dabek is next up, and unlike Mat before him, is somewhat arrogant in his performance, which dulls the jovial atmosphere. Aside from an early faux pas when producing a red and white scarf, his act is excellent. But, with the drop in atmosphere, the climax of the act becomes more of an anti-climax, which is a real shame as Paul’s talent does show through.

The incredible circus performer Michael Standen quickly follows and in a rather risqué costume he proceeds to show off his jaw dropping feats of gymnastic ability. Circus performers often tend to be quite serious, yet Standen is anything but, performing to a backing track of Sia’s Chandelier. Whilst only a short performance, it leaves the greatest impact of the first half.

With little other than a bag of props and his menacing eyes, his masterful control of the stage is inspiring

With the second half under way, a surprise act in the form of stand-up comedian Gordon Southern takes to the stage. His quick wit and over-excited manner have the crowd in stitches. His daft raps are, fortunately, short though endear him to the crowd as he lifts the atmosphere, just in time for this evening’s headliner.

Perhaps the most universal comic around today, Sam Wills covers his mouth with a piece of tape and immediately becomes The Boy With Tape On His Face. With little other than a bag of props and his menacing eyes, his masterful control of the stage is inspiring. Using audience members at will, he entertains everyone with ease, from love scenes to a western style standoff involving balloons and staple guns. Whilst it’s only a short set, he crams a plethora of thrilling sketches in, leaving the entire crowd dumbstruck by his brilliance.

As the evening draws to a close, host Lili is back to close out on a rapturous crescendo, with the rather apt Mein Herr. Reminiscing on this evening, it has been a truly eclectic show of epic proportions with something for everyone.

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