Is there something wrong with me?
I saw The Wurzels perform at a pub in Worcestershire last night.
Yes. The I’ve Got a Brand New Combine Harvester band, still playing around.
I expected maybe a rather half-hearted, past-it band performing in the back room of a pub. Instead, they were playing off the side of a vast pantechnicon lorry in a gigantic field behind the pub and they were slick in the best possible way. The gig had sold out well in advance; the field was full.
It was like watching a perfectly engineered gleaming machine – no mention of combine harvesters – working with razor-sharp precision and playing to a way-over-the-top, party-type audience who, certainly near the front, were raucously singing along and dancing like someone had crossed The Wicker Man with a 1970s nightclub scene from Stringfellow’s without the glam clothes. The audience LOVED the Wurzels and there was not any micro-second when they were not delivering top-notch professional entertainment.
But I would have preferred a rather less professional outfit playing in the back room of a pub.
That’s my problem.
It’s rather like my taste in comedy.
I saw one act at the Edinburgh Fringe a couple of months ago which was like The Wurzels. Very experienced. Totally professional. Honed to absolute second-to-second perfection. Brilliant. The audience loved every second. And the comedian could – and probably did – repeat that act just as brilliantly every time he performed.
But I would have preferred something rougher, less professional, more likely to soar in parts but go off the rails in others.
As I say, that’s my problem.
I have seen The Wurzels. They are brilliant. I would happily sit or stand through their show again. But I would not seek them out. I know what I am going to get. A word-perfect, note-perfect, beautifully-structured show guaranteed to entertain without fail and without flagging at any point. There was even the sight of one of the Worzels mooning – judging the audience perfectly.
The show was a gleaming Rolls Royce of professionalism.
But I think maybe I would prefer a circus clown’s car, a bit ramshackle, with the engine blowing up and the doors falling off.
Is there something wrong with me? There must be.
The Wurzels are a perfect TV band, You know exactly what you are getting. Brilliant populist entertainment which can be repeated exactly in rehearsal, dress rehearsal and on the recording or live show.
Why they do not appear more on TV, I don’t know. They are peaktime entertainers who appeal to all ages.
Well, maybe I do know.
Presumably it is a sign of the lack of genuine personal taste in a lot of TV shows, made by Oxbridge producers who coldly and impersonally create programmes for what they see as down-market audiences in defined demographics with whom they have nothing in common.
Yesterday I blogged about the TV series Game For a Laugh and Surprise! Surprise! They were created by producers (and, in particular the brilliant executive producer Alan Boyd) who made programmes they themselves wanted to watch. I have a feeling some producers now are making ITV programmes for highly researched ‘target audiences’ but would never dream of watching the type of programme they themselves are making – they maybe watch BBC2 and BBC4 at home. The result? Tacky, lowest-common-denominator trash which gets ‘acceptable’ ratings – unlike The X Factor or Britain’s Got Talent which are clearly controlled by people who like their own shows, who understand populist audiences and who therefore get massive mega-ratings.
Perhaps it is no coincidence that both The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent can be traced back to Pop Idol, which was originally backed by Alan Boyd.
Still, seeing The Wurzels last night was well worth the experience. They really were a band out standing in their own field.
And I got chatting to someone who has a relation working at Davis University in California who is researching breath as a way of predicting cancer risks. He has researched humans’ and apes’ and other animals’ breath and has been trying to get samples of whales’ breath.
It is not easy.
I kid you not.
It made my evening.