Review: Bill Bailey lights up Relight Festival at West Park, Wolverhampton

The first Saturday night of Wolverhampton’s summer festival in the West Park Big Top got off to the best possible start with the nation’s favourite musical comedian - and Strictly Come Dancing champion - Bill Bailey in fine form at the first Just The Tonic Comedy Shindig.

Bill Bailey on stage
Bill Bailey on stage

There’s a lot of love for Bristolian Bill, and rock fan Wulfrunians revelled in his spoof heavy metal routines, as well as a Kraftwerk parody of the German techno pioneers performing nursery rhymes.

Though never less than amiable, the veteran comedian proved capable of some sharp barbs. Most of them were reserved for senior Tories including Dominic Raab, Matt Hancock and Boris Johnson, the latter memorably described as “a dithering haystack”.

Bill Bailey on stage

There was a touch of poignancy to the final element of his 40-minute headline set with a tribute to his best friend comedian Sean Lock, whose death from cancer was announced earlier in the week. This was the song Leg of Time, a superbly ridiculous prog rock epic that the two had worked on together when creating mock rock group Taunton.

The two-hour show, featuring four comics, in total had got off to a surreal start when Mayor of Wolverhampton Councillor Greg Brackenridge gave MC Lou Conran a fireman’s lift onto the stage, though let’s hope he was out of earshot for some of her cruder material.

Wolverhampton Mayor Greg Brackenridge gives Lou Conran a fireman’s lift onto the stage

UK-based American Reginald D Hunter impressed with his hard-hitting yet contemplative humour, although he also contributed the rudest gag of the night at the expense of Phillip Schofield.

The second 20-minute set came from Scott Bennett, whose exasperation from being a parent during lockdown certainly struck a chord with many in the Big Top audience.

The audience enjoying the show

The venue felt Covid secure, with its open sides and gaps between seated punters.

The festival boasts more impressive comedy line-ups to come, including Shappi Khorsandi, Gary Delaney, Tom Stade and Lloyd Griffith on August 28 and Paul Sinha, Hal Cruttenden, Jo Caulfield and Jarred Christmas on September 5.

Details of all other events taking place as part of Relight Festival can be found at relightfestival.co.uk

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