Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 31 May 2016

Rock's great survivor is a riotous delight

By Michael Conaghan

Published 13/01/2014

At Saturday afternoon's showing of his new film John Otway styled himself "rock and roll's greatest failure".

However, I would describe him as one of its great survivors.

He now can't even lay claim to the soubriquet 'one hit wonder', having fluked a Top 10 hit with Bunsen Burner in 2002.

"A pop star and a movie star" as he genially introduced himself for the Saturday night gig at the Black Box, launching into a really free version of first hit Really Free, with an obstreperous fuzz box standing in for Wild Willy Barrett.

Though his instinct is to play it for laughs, there was a recognisable folk tradition in songs like Poetry and Jazz which in the right hands (ie, not his) could be a modern Where Do You Go To, My Lovely.

His comedy was nothing if not inventive.

Body Talk made extensive use of percussion and theremin, and indeed Otway's body, and only just failed to collapse into chaos.

Like all good comic turns John Otway had the perfect foil on stage in his sidekick Dedley the Roadie, who played a mean harmonica on a Dylanesque reading of I Will Survive and was there to catch the guitar on a flagrantly health and safety-defying version of You Ain't Seen Nothin, Yet.

I would have liked to have heard more of songs like Josephine proving Otway has the musical chops to go with the clowning, but this was entertainment of the highest order.

Long may he headbutt the microphone.

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