After seeing Harry Baker in a few Don’t Flop rap battles, and catching a glimpse of all his slam winnings, both national and international, my ears pricked at the mention of his appearance in Nottingham alongside long-time friend and musical co-pilot Chris Read.
The Maze took an unusual turn to its ordinary sweaty-gig self – the chairs were out in rows, I had me school-night cider and packet of crisps. Right at ‘om. There was excited chatter as the venue began to fill up and our first support act for the evening was out.
Local chap Edi Johnston did The Edi Johnston Bit – ukulele was out in full force, plus a suitcase of mysterious objects on the table. We were serenaded with some hilarious numbers, including a lovely tune about a grandma, when a few puns were chucked out, together with objects from the suitcase. Definitely got my eye out for this one on the Notts circuit – funny bogger, indeed.
Next up was the awesome Gecko. Dead pan as you get, his performance weaved into the absurd and out to the enlightened. Poking fun at global politics and attitudes, he used storytelling, musicality and lyricism to whack grins on faces all around the room. And I’ve got to say, this guy’s improv game is on. point. After a bit of a duel with the smoke machine, we were well away – he even chucked in an epic feminist tune for good measure. 10/10 Gecko. 10/10.
It was time for Harry and Chris. We were greeted with stories about their endeavours following university, pointing out all the various woes that come with not fitting in a box. They were hilarious from the get-go, letting off all the vibes of sitting in your front room and cracking jokes with your mates. Harry’s comedic timing was up there, and with Chris constantly laughing his bonce off throughout the set, it was clear the pair don’t take themselves seriously. They’re infectious – really bringing the audience in to their easy-going world with what seemed like minimal effort. A massive highlight was the track Simple Times, a worry-free track harking back to Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World, shouting about happy stuff in these uncertain times, including farting in the bath. On top of that, we were treated to a song from the perspective of Sir Killalot from Robot Wars, showing his more sensitive side, of course, as well as a freestyle harnessed from words from the audience. All proper stuff.
A mixture of spoken word, rapping, top musicianship, and most of all, laughs. Indeed, we left grinning from ear to ear, with a little extra peace in our hearts. More please.
Harry & Chris + Gecko + Edi Johnston performed at The Maze on Wednesday 15 February 2017.
The Maze website