Review: Mike Newall, Christian Reilly and Chris Ramsey – HiFi, Leeds.
On bitterly cold Black Friday in Leeds, HiFi hosted the penultimate show of its comedy heavy December schedule with a line-up showcasing some serious talent. Sets from the guitar laden Christian Reilly and livewire Rob Rouse backed up by MC for the night Chris Ramsey promised a cracking night.
Ramsey began proceedings with an effortless show of off the cuff audience led improv. The man from South Shields was at amusing ease from the word go as Ramsey became familiar with every member of the front row, turning initially polite chat into something more surreal whilst always remaining funny. Ramsey’s style and wit was on show as he bounced from idea to idea getting the crowd in fine mood for the first act.
Seasoned performer Christian Reilly began proceedings by plugging in his guitar via a faulty cable, unwittingly producing a shotgun blast from the PA that had the crowd out of its collective seats in a way that no gag could. Technical hitches aside Reilly’s opening material failed to match the electrifying entrance he had made as he began his guitar centred act with a handful of short sharp plays on well known lyrics. The crowd warmed slowly to the stop start nature of Reilly material and his snapshots of comic song. However by the time we had been treated to his ringtones routine and a taste of Reilly’s talent for imaginative one liners, the momentum and laughs picked up nicely. Finishing with a chuckle-some lamentable ode to a first love, Reilly’s set was strong and contained some great lines, however the choppy delivery of gags and songs gave the set a slightly cobbled together feel that belied Reilly’s experience.
After the break, were treated to another burst of Chris Ramsey’s infectious patter aided by some interesting characters who arrived at the wrong time to sit in the front row (a married couple consisting of a wrestler from Leeds and a Hooters waitress from USA?!) with hilarious and genuinely interesting consequences.
Wrapping up his section we were then treated to the headliner, or were we? With no notice at all Stockport comic Mike Newall took the stage to wrap the night up. This was obviously to the great disappointment of a percentage of the crowd that had been eager to see Rob Rouse as a small number voted with their feet. Those that stayed saw a steady set from Newall.
The man, who looks and sounds suspiciously like a third Gallagher brother, has an almost horizontal stage persona that sits well with his offhand tales of a misspent youth and being a Northerner abroad in London. Whilst affable enough Newall’s material at times veered into lists of what he thinks is crap followed by ‘you know what I mean’. His biggest laughs came from a genuine impulsive wit and keen sense of dark sarcasm that elevated his better anecdotes and quips above the norm. This combined with the odd brilliantly lewd ad lib was where Newall shone and in doing so ensuring HiFi was chock full of chuckles come the end of the gig.
Cutting aside the disappointment of the line-up change, the evening was still a cracking night of comedy with Newall, Reilly and a star turn from MC Chris Ramsey delivering the festive goods to Leeds.