Thursday, 31 August 2006

Frank Sidebottom - North Bar, Blackburn

frank sidebottom

north bar blackburn 31st august

Sometimes as you get older, things change, or you view things in a different way from how you did 10 years ago. This thought passed through my mind one night as I drank a pint of Guiness not too far from where I am right now. Pondering how I would react to witnessing the one, the only Frank Sidebottom later this evening. As a regular visitor to Blackburn in the past, Frank Sidebottoms Timperly Lectures were something to look forward to in the cold winter months of the mid 90's.

This is now 2006, we are older, but is Frank? A man who performs in a large papier mache head, pretending to be a superstar, speaking as though wearing a clothes peg on his nose (his real one, not the hand painted pretend one), and singing familiar songs but with reworked lyrics. An act full of in jokes and ridiculous routines, an act so strange it is almost impossible to explain, you have to see it to believe it.

That brings us to a wet Thursday evening on the last day of August, cramed into the North Bar Blackburn. In here there are some real die-hard fans, I do enjoy, or rather enjoyed Frank in the past, but how am I going to react tonight. The answer is really quite simple, one word, fantastic. Still the same old Frank, with Little Frank, and the silly in jokes still amuse and bemuse. His head is still large and made of papier mache, Little Frank is still of cardboard, and guess who's been on Match Of The Day, he has in his big shorts.

A constant factor with the sucess of Franks act in an interaction with the audience. You are expected to play along with and experience the strange world in which he inhabits, to become the 10 year old child again, living in a very special fantastic world, where cardboard figures take on strange personas and everything has a fantastic quality.

To the unintiated, this may seem like some strange ritual, grown men singing along gleefully to a man in a large head, women screaming at his as though he is a greek adonis sex symbol, but to those in the know, those of us who have followed this bizarre cult for many years, it is entertainment at its silly best.

Many costume changes punctuate the act, from his straight suit to Father Christmas, then later onto his classic football kit, and finishing the preceedings with the addition of the obligatory Freddy Mercury moustache. Is this the real life or is it just Timperly.

No pyrotechics, no digital effects, no smoke or mirrors, for what you see is what you get. A man in a suit with a rather large head, singing increasingly daft songs in a daft voice. Blimey, lets just hope his mum doesn't find out.

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