Billy Connelly High Horse Tour – Wellington 11 May 2014

by Russell on May 17, 2014

Finally the night for Billy Connelly’s show had arrived. We found an early car park and settled into Chicago Bar for a few pre-show drinks and a meal. Based on our 

Caroline, Russell & Angela

experience I doubt I would go there again. The staff were friendly enough but the first thing that put me off was the sticky table – someone needs to go around and clean them properly from time to time rather than wiping them quickly and leaving a thick film behind.

We decided to share the Chicago Platter after seeing the meal on a nearby table. Perhaps we should have waited until the others finished as the amount left behind would have served as a warning. The platter duly arrived and looked good but the first sampling of fries put me on notice – luke warm. Is it that hard to deliver hot fries to a table? The calamari, chicken and prawns were all great but the pork ribs – dismal and although I was still a little hungry, I could not manage more than one. To me pork ribs should be hot and exhibit some semblance of crispness or crackle but no – not a hint of either characteristic, the ribs instead just a tepid, limp blob of marinated pork on a bone. Come on Chicago, lift your game.

Chicago Bar 2.5/5

 

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Then it was time for the big event. Ten weeks after purchasing our tickets it was with great expectations that we finally entered the bustling TSB Arena and slid into seating a modern aircraft designer would have approved. Constant shifting of my sore knee did little to alleviate my discomfort at the cramped seat pitch.

I think it shows a mark of disrespect for a fine performer that many chose to seat themselves after the show began and the constant flow of people to and fro from their seats during the performance was just plain annoying. In the old days Billy would have pilloried them but all escaped his barbed comedic tongue on this occasion. As for the lighting – appalling. The orange-yellow hue bathing the main stage combined with a bluish spot to form a shapeless halo around Billy’s head; it was rare that I could actually make out his face from my location.

The times Billy hit his outrageous best had the audience in contorted laughter but there were others when rehashing of old Billy jokes and retellings of others I knew from around the water cooler shifted the laughter into a lower gear. I was struck by the similarity to an aged boxer making a final comeback. There were glimpses of brilliance yet all too often Billy seemed once again on the ropes as the ghost of Big Yin past pummelled him; one especially long period had the combined audience holding their breaths as if waiting for a bell to save him.

Marketing material I’d read online the previous day suggested an approx 10:30 finish so the sudden departure from the stage at 9:45 left me wondering if he might be coming back. The steady stream of humanity out the door convinced me otherwise and I finally eased myself into the relentless tide and departed the building feeling a little disappointed. Overheard conversations suggested many felt as I did – a little sad for an amazingly talented man upon whom father time had finally laid his cold hand.

I love Billy Connelly to bits but would not go to see another show in the future. I choose to remember him as I saw him in his previous visit to Wellington while he was still at the height of his powers. Don’t get me wrong; it was still a good show, but not a great show.

Billy Connelly 3.5/5

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