“I’ve not been in our country for years so I’m feeling a little disoriented.”
It is no wonder Brand is feeling a tad disorientated as he walks out on stage to a sold out Manchester Apollo – this is his first live stand-up tour since 2009s Scandalous and since then he has travelled the world, married an American pop-star, spoken in the House of Commons, become a Hollywood actor, divorced the American pop-star and been in trouble with the press more times than he even could count on two hands… not that he’d care to. From the get go though, it is obvious from the crowd’s reaction just how far he has come from ‘the slightly annoying, floppy haired dude’ from Big Brother’s Big Mouth and although he has been away for four years, Manchester are sure glad to have him back.
As he grazes the audience with his sexual prowess (much to the delight of the females and one overly enthusiastic male who jumps on him and refuses to let go) Brand steps away from his celebrity status momentarily. Fumbling his way around the audience, despite the theatre’s vast space and wooden nature, he manages to connect the room; we’re all friends now and Russell is a mere mortal like the rest of us. It is soon clear that Brand won’t be censoring himself tonight either as he speaks to a girl named Rebecca in the audience and then proceeds to sit on her lap, driving her electric wheelchair and crashing it. His quick wit, perfectly set up against the relaxed atmosphere, prevails though as the audience burst into laughter and he fires into a ‘shit, that could have been worst than the Hugo Boss/Nazi scandal’ joke.
The show centres around fame and status, communism and the hyperbole of brands and advertising (how dare Dr Pepper state their drink is ‘unbelievably satisfying’? It is a mere drink that is at most ‘quite nice.’) Light-boxes of four famous leaders don the stage; Gandhi, Che Guevara, Malcolm X and Jesus. These are Brand’s chosen examples to explain how ridiculous it is that today our idols are celebrities and not influential leaders, yet he effortlessly compares himself to his chosen four whilst simultaneously taking the mick out of himself for his pure hypocrisy – after all why would he hate fame when it gave him a ‘tumble dryer of tits and money.’
The shows moves at an incredibly quick pace. It is full of fancy words and ‘clever stuff’ which he occasionally apologies for but just when you’re about to switch off because it’s all getting a little like a lecture, he cracks a crude joke and returns to bounding about the stage miming a joke about an orgasm, his rocky marriage or Ronald McDonald’s cock.
Messiah Complex is so smoothly crafted that I went away feeling like it was almost too much to take in. I had definitely been watching Brand on stage for an hour and a half but the pace and complexity of the show made it feel like it was over in a flash. I must have taken something in though because I left with the strong opinion that communism sucks and I very much wanted to sleep with him.
I don’t know how he does it, albeit the latter may be purely the leather trousers.