Bad Ridden: HM Heroes Fail to Find Stage Shock!
by Rik Mayall Interviews And Articles Archive Blog
By Mick Wall for Kerrang!, 7th November 1987
Victoria Hall, Hanley
Like tile leather-jacketed hack out of some spoof TV rockumentary, I missed the start of the gig due to unforeseen circumstances out of my control: namely, I got lost and couldn’t find the hall. It would have been better if I’d been drunk and missed the whole thing, of course, then I could have gone the whole cliche . . . As it was, I stumbled in blind through the doors of the Victoria Hall just in time to catch Bad News hamming it up on the guitars mid-way through their first number, ‘Drink Till I Die’.
I didn’t know what to expect from seeing Bad News finally headlining at one of their own shows, it’s one thing to assault a captive audience on a festival bill quite another to go it alone and entertain that audience on their own terms. Would the average Heavy Metal fan pay money to see Bad News perform live? Would the average anybody pay money to see Bad News perform live?
Judging by the size of the crowd at the Victoria Hall, it seems the answer would be ‘Yes’ – all kinds of people are paying money to see Bad News live. It’s a real cross-section we have here tonight: in the balconies sit the ‘New Statesman’ and ‘Filthy Rich & Claptrap’ gang, happy to clap at the end of set-pieces but not keen on punching their fists in the air like they are down the front. It’s down there we get the hardboiled HM mob; just like at any other rock ‘n’ roll show, they jack-knife through the air like Zebedees on acid, stamp their feet and howl – only at this ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ show they’re allowed to laugh out loud too . . .
And at the back, straight-faced but watchful, there are the inbetweenies: the original-series ‘Young Ones’ oldsters, in on the joke all right, now waiting patiently for the punchlines to land.
Third number in,’Bohemian Rhapsody’, is the first big setpiece of the night that everybody really gets into. All of us, the straight, the crooked, the calm, the insane, we all laugh, and we all bane our heads during the 99 1/2 miles-an-hour sprint through the finale . . .
I’m not going to reel through every joke and skit in the show — you will enjoy them all much more the way Bad News tell them, anyway. Suffice it to say the ‘band’ run through pretty much every HM cliche in the book – lights, dry-ice, pyro, the occasional huge explosion, and, though he wasn’t in evidence tonight, an appearance by their own Eddie-type band mascot in the shape of Roger The Skull plus a few you don’t need to be an HM fan to recognise, then twist them around and turn them into slapstick. They look like they do in the ‘Bo Rap’ video: grotesque and caricatured, a belly laugh and close to the bone. When they play (yes, they all play, even Colin/Rik) they sound just like they do on their album, like bad Motorhead or sloppy Status Quo.
You couldn’t really call it Alternative Comedy. This is more like pantomime, only you couldn’t take the children because of all the ‘F’ words. Let’s just call it entertainment with a small ‘e’.
Crude,funny,perceptive and above all entertaining, that’s what this Bad News gig proves to be. Trundling manfully through the jokes and set-pieces, interspersed by the best material from the album like’Master Bike’ ‘Warriors Of Ghengis Khan’ and the perennial ‘Hey Hey (F**k Off) Bad News’, they never quite attain the dizzy heights of Total Outrageousness. Maybe that will come Later into this tour when they’ve worked in the Skull and a couple more gags. Instead, they are audience-friendly, warm and even quite ready to rock at times.
They close with an hilarious everybody-take-a-bow burst through The Who’s ‘My Generation’, and they encore by miming to their next single, ‘Cashing In On Christmas’, everybody prancing and preening like big red poofs in outsize Sanity Clause outfits, the audience singing along like seals.
It doesn’t matter which way your prejudices hang with Bad News. They know how to put on a show, and when they do they are something to see, unlike any other act out on the road today.