Where to start with Matt Berry and the Maypoles. Maybe by mentioning the songs from his extensive TV work, maybe the trippy mid set prog jams and dazzling bass solos or maybe, the actor’s regular between song banter.
All contributed to a thoroughly captivating, intensely hot and slightly bizarre evening with Berry and his band at Bedford’s Esquires .
The award winning comic is familiar to millions for his roles in the excellent Toast of London as well as shows including IT Crowd and House Of Fools.
However, with numerous albums under his belt, Berry is also an accomplished musician, composing much of the music for the shows he has appeared in.
Monday’s headline set acted as a bit of a homecoming for the Bedfordshire musician who was joined by the Maypoles which featured Bluetones guitarist Mark Morriss. Support was by Big Nothing.
It’s not easy to cagetgorise Berry and The Maypoles’ music, with their set jumping across the musical spectrum.
One minute tracks were firmly rooted in the folk camp, with Berry playing guitar, yet minutes later he was hunched over a Korg synthesizer as the band launched into trippy space rock jams.
The one constant was everything had a very distinct ‘Berry’ flavour – and anyone who has seen the actor on TV will know exactly what this means.
The most familiar singalong came mid set with Take My Hand, the theme tune to the Toast Of London.
His 13 song set also included Snuff Box from the 2006 series of the same name and music from AD/BC: A Rock Opera, various LP tracks and the new song One By One from his forthcoming new album.
Berry was chatty form throughout, joking with the Esquires crowd about bands which may or may not have graced its stage over the years and how the venue had barely changed since the mid 1980s.
He also found time to discuss Bedfordshire best pubs which have subsequently come and gone since his youth.
One of the biggest laughs of the night came following the four letter (unrepeatable) expletive Berry used to describe band mate Morriss – joking about the amount of promotion for a forthcoming show by the Bluetones man which was plastered around the venue.
Delivered in his trademark tones, it sounded straight out of his Steven Toast persona.
Matt Berry and the Maypoles are all accomplished musicians, easily capable of taking fans on a journey across folk and prog and everything in-between.
However, part of trouble of having a front man so used acting up to the camera is people want to hear him talk, as much as he no doubt wants interact with them – despite it being a gig rather than a stand up show.
Thankfully, Berry probably got the mix about right and went down a blast with those packed inside.
Matt Berry and the Maypoles played:
Devil Inside Me
Take My Hand
One By One
Music For The Insomniac