Flight of the Conchords
Wednesday, July 18
You know a show has reached a new level of intimacy when a performer grinds his gonads in an audience member's face and everyone else is jealous it's not them. "This lady is glad she got so close to my gonads," Jemaine Clement improvised during a rendition of raunchy rap Sugar Lumps as he stood in front of the stage and humped the air.
Clement and his pint-sized partner in crime Bret McKenzie had the sold-out Challenge Stadium crowd eating out of the palms of their hands when they rolled up for their first live headline tour. It was well overdue. After two seasons of a hit TV series, radio spots and a string of albums, the daggy Kiwi double act's popular appeal has hit cult proportions.
And the Conchords were in pitch-perfect form as they returned to their live roots, cementing their roles as masters of musical parodies, vocal impressions and acting like epic dorks.
The show kicked off spectacularly as they performed Too Many Dicks (on the Dance Floor) in homemade robot suits. This was followed by a lengthy analysis of the metaphors in what they termed a "tiramisaic" song, setting the tone for some low-key banter.
There seemed to be a fair bit of adlibbing between songs, most of which built on their established schtick and involved what the deluded musicians considered rock'n'roll excess, though their exploits didn't get any more debauched than eating free muffins and having an out-of-tune guitar. These tales got plenty of chuckles.
Playing for two hours straight with a range of twee instruments and accompaniment by serious cellist Nigel Collins , they dipped into their full decade-plus back catalogue. The Conchords performed hits including hilarious rap Hurt Feelings, Hiphopopotamus vs Rhymenoceros, electro-dance track Inner City Pressure, the David Bowie-inspired Bowie and the Most Beautiful Girl in the Room. Extra lyrics were cleverly added to many of these well-known hits. They tried out some new songs too, such as a racy male/female duet.
The less appealing Bus Driver's Song appeared to be the only miss among the songs. The pair also attempted a four-part singalong with the crowd to the Elton John-esque charity ballad Song for Epileptic Dogs but it didn't quite gain traction.
A major highlight was Clement channelling Barry White in Business Time. Some hilarious extra lines were added to the song - an extended verse about his girlfriend's unflattering bedclothes. You could feel the mood rising as the crowd guffawed at the added lyrical treats to what has become an anthem for long-term live-in relationships. There were plenty of costume changes, which added to the humour, one including jewel-encrusted hotpants and a scarf and cape as the duo performed rock song Demon Woman. "That song satirises a common convention of rock music to demonise the female gender. It's also about a b…. I used to go out with," Clement quipped.
The crowd was big but the performance felt intimate, each fan bringing with them a relationship already forged in their living rooms.
The Conchords have somehow hit a special mark to gain such mass appeal. It's a formula containing relatable awkwardness and an ability to make fun of themselves. Add to that some well-crafted songs performed with polished musicianship, demonstrating expert knowledge of musical genres.
What's more, each song tells a story combining the mundane with so much kooky absurdity you can't help but laugh.