I’ve always been a big fan of Russell Brand. He has a candid sense of humour, he’s honest about his drug and sex fuelled past, and he’s dead sexy. I had his Scandalous DVD and I’d always wanted to see him live, so when he went on tour with his new show The Messiah Complex and I discovered he was coming to Cardiff, I was thrilled.
Plus, Russell is pretty topical at the moment. First he appeared on Newsnight with Jeremy Paxman and drew the nations attention as someone with something to say, something that mattered. He showed the world he was more than a comedian but had serious political opinions. He said how every young person, and every person in Britain trapped in poverty felt, but did not have the platform to say. THEN he appeared on Channel 4 News with Jon Snow, as an advocate of treating drug addiction as a disease, not a crime. This was all going on and I knew his show was going to be so interesting as well as hilarious, and I was right. In fact, it was way better than i expected.
I knew the show was going to be incredible as soon as it started. A big screen came up. Intense music played. And the entirety of history flashed before our eyes. We witnessed earth and life forming, societies beginning, religions taking over, historical events, wars, natural disasters, industrialisation, effects of global warming, celebrities on the red carpet, the royals, all of it. From the beginnings of time, to our celebrity saturated culture we now live in. We watched the world burn. Then Russell came on looking all sexy in leather trousers, a white blazer, and long necklaces draped around his neck. Wow. Then before he got kicking with the show, he talked to the audience a bit, he bonded, and he err, brought a dog out. Not any dog, but a gorgeous big white fluffy dog called Brian. He was sweet, gentle, and gorgeous. I could of watched him frolic around all day. Unfortunately the dog did leave the stage eventually, and then Russell kicked off with the show.
The Messiah Complex was all about our relationship with people and corporations who have come to replace God in society. The figures and things that we have come to believe in and put our faith in. He quoted Nitzsche: ‘God Is Dead’, and Chesterton’s response ‘When Man ceases to worship God he does not worship nothing but worships everything’. He talked through the big corporations like McDonalds and Dr Pepper as well as his own heroes along with their flaws and their humanity: Gandhi, Che Guevara, Malcom X, and Jesus. And of course, he did it with hilarious, completely outrageous, and self-absorbed humour that only Russell could do best. Russell seamlessly mixes adult humour and anecdotes from his own life with historical events and figures, and issues within our own current society. And he does it in a way that is not condescending, but is genuinely funny and also interesting. You feel like you are not only getting a comedic performance, but are also learning something. It was a weird cross between a comedy gig and a spiritual journey. That may be a bold statement but it’s true. Plus, it makes so much knowledge accessible to a wider audience. A lot of the stuff Russell talked about I already knew about either from Philosophy lessons at school, or my degree which is super-critical of our consumeristic capitalist society, and The Daily Mail. Yet a lot of other people in the room wouldn’t have had this prior knowledge. Yet Russell didn’t shove his views down your throat. He was candid and honest and said what everyone wanted to hear and know.
Russell played it through effortlessly. At times it felt like he was going off on tangents, but he always brought it back. What seemed like tangents was just his frantic talking. It all worked it’s way into place. Plus, it was the perfect location. The Millennium Centre is a gorgeous, modern building. It was huge, and yet the show still somehow managed to feel intimate, despite being sat in the circle on the 4th level. The show was also brilliant because of the support act, Mr G. Mr G wasn’t just a comedian, but a poet who worked in spoken word. He made some jokes and read us out two poems, one on beauty and one on love. Despite it sounding like it could be cheesy, it wasn’t at all. He did the poems in a contemporary, urban manner, comparing a man’s love for a woman to getting her four bottles of ketchup in Nando’s. I think I would make the effort just to see him perform again. Plus I had never before seen spoken word being performed live, and that in itself was an interesting experience. Like I said above, despite the venue being massive, it made it feel warm and intimate.
All in all, it was a brilliant evening. I would highly recommend anyone going to see Russell Brand live if you get the opportunity, as long as you aren’t easily offended. His humour is very particular and usually of a sexual content. But if he’s up your street, and you want some lessons in history, culture and politics as well as a laugh, then make the effort. You won’t be disappointed.