It was 2015 when Jasper Carrott last visited Cardiff’s St David’s Hall, performing a double-header of comedy with Alistair McGowan. On Wednesday evening, (and 18 months after a quadruple bypass) “The Carrott” finally made a welcome return, headlining his own show, Stand-Up & Rock, showcasing his own Stand Up routine with the rock (& roll) side ably provided by his life-long friend, the musician, Bev Bevan of the Electric Light Orchestra.
Jasper Carrott needs no introduction to anyone who followed the comedy scene in the 1970s and 80s. His programmes Carrott’s Lib and Carrott Confidential were unmissable Saturday night TV, while his records, including the unexpected chart hit, Magic Roundabout, were must-haves, (even if you had to wait till your mother left the room before you played it!).
Times might have changed in many respects as Jasper admitted to his Cardiff audience. Back in the 70s, he could say anything on TV as long as he didn’t swear, whereas these days stand-up comedians appear to have adopted swearing as a way to getting quick laughs. Jasper hasn’t needed to stoop to such levels. The delivery, timing and wit are all still there and lapped up every few seconds with continual belly laughs from the audience. Nothing and no-one are safe, as his humour is unleashed – even on himself!
“I love Wales and its language but I’m not always happy with it,” he says after giving his fans a Welsh greeting, “because the Welsh for Carrott is Moron!”
The show quickly gets declared a “Brexit free zone” (but not before a few observations of leading politicians are given). Then it’s the first of two 30 plus minute sets, giving the lowdown of life beyond the age of 50, why selfies and encyclopaedias are pointless and what both Las Vegas and Merthyr Tydfil have in common.
A reprieve from the comedy was allowed when Bev Bevan and his excellent band took to the stage to deliver some classic rock. With Bev on drums, Abby Grant on keys, Lee Evans on guitar and Phil Tree on guitar and vocals, the band rocked in with a rousing version of Queen’s We Will Rock You followed by nods to Bev’s early music career with The Move (California Man) and Black Sabbath (Paranoid).
There were further music treats with special guests, Geoff Turton of The Rockin’ Berries who did soulful rendition of The Righteous Brothers’ You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ while Suzi Dian gave a mesmerising performance of Carole King’s Natural Woman.
Jasper returned with more comedy magic in the second half, including a topical observation of the naming of the new royal baby and a comic reflection on Jasper’s own encounter with Archie’s late grandmother, Princess Diana. There were also a batch of classic and new motor insurance claims as well as fun interpretations of pop classics such as If I Were A Carpenter and Mellow Yellow with new lyrics.
With The Bev Bevan Band, returning for a final set, (appropriately commencing with the Joe Cocker arrangement of With A Little Help From My Friends) the memorable night of entertainment drew to a close.
Stand Up and Rock proved to be a winning formula with the audience on its Cardiff debut – lets hope the show makes a return visit to Wales soon!