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Singer keeps audience howling
THERE'S nothing to get an arts festival off to a better start than a really good laugh, which singer songwriter Mitch Benn managed to do at the town hall last Wednesday evening.
Some of us of a certain age will remember the pop song parodies of the Barron Knights and the early work of Billy Connolly and Jasper Carrott. Mr Benn is very much in that tradition and song titles like I Really Have to Murder James Blunt, I Want an African Baby (re Madonna) and Everything Sounds Like Coldplay Now will give you an idea where he is coming from.
He has delighted Radio 4 audiences with his songs on the comedy programme The Now Show and he likewise had the full house in the Assembly Room howling and gasping for breath. A lady sitting close to me was mopping her eyes, and it wasn't from emotion.
Mr Benn is large man - he claims Viking descent - and he plays the smallest electric guitar I ever saw. But his delivery is far from slow and elephantine and, at the start of the evening his patter was somewhat overwhelming.
Some of his work is decidedly off the wall and there are moments when you wonder if you should really be laughing, as with Scaredy Weirdos, I Imagine You're Mine (about stalking), She's A Size Zero and the downbeat finale, Happy Birthday War.
Audience participation involved Mr Benn asking for suggestions for a song, which he would "write" in the interval. Topics included Barack Obama and the traffic in Devizes.
The result, to a Beach Boys type tune, ended "he will solve problems of different sizes, including the traffic in Devizes". It was a good night.