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Ten - Soho Theatre, London, 24/1/2012

  by Tom Fogarty

published: 24 / 1 / 2013

Ten - Soho Theatre, London, 24/1/2012


Tom Fogarty is impressed by cult TV stars and muscal comedy duo the Rubberbandits' pecuiar brand of irreverence and intellectualism at the Soho Theatre in London

Fresh off the back of a cult TV series on Channel 4 by the same name, the Rubberbandits played Soho Theatre on 24th January 2013. Hailing from Limerick Ireland, how would the zany and irreverent duo fair in front of a London crowd? Best known for the online hit, ‘Horse Outside’, which became a viral phenomenon in 2010 and almost kept X-Factor Winner Matt Cardle off the top spot for Christmas Number One in Ireland, the Rubberbandits are something of an anomaly. Are they a comedy act or a band in their on right? The answer is both. The pair perform stripped to the waist with plastic bags wrapped tightly round their faces - overtly creepy and reminiscent of a terrorist outfit. And this is exactly the point - the Rubberbandits aim to confound and perplex with their cynical absurdities. In addition to making you laugh and dance, they will also make you think. The lyrics are laugh out loud funny and yet at times surprisingly sublime. Some of the songs are genuinely moving, while others unashamedly groovy. The comedy is dark in tone and very sinister, much like League of Gentlemen before them, but, whereas League of Gentlemen relied on shock horror tactics for their laughs, the Rubberbandits have a bona fide political agenda to advocate here. Avoiding obvious gags, the songs on display will often take you in a direction you never expected. A case in point is ‘Spoiling Ivan’; a song about an adult befriending a six-year old boy. Everything about the tone of this addictive tune leads you to believe it will have a macabre and gruesome ending, but the outcome is happy and positive and will make you question your own jaded thoughts. It is simply a refreshingly nice song. Also worth mentioning in the lineup is Willie O'DJ; although not a fully-fledged member of the band, his silent onstage shenanigans left-of-stage will keep you entertained throughout. The most shocking song is ‘Up The RA’, which charts the plights of the IRA over the last century. Although this eventually degenerates into farce, listing out supposed members of the IRA (including Freddie Starr and Bob Marley among others), it is still very unnerving to see men clad in ski masks, waving Irish Nationalist flags on stage in a menacing fashion. So are the Rubberbandits a subversive band then? Perhaps, but their true talent is skillfully hiding their true intent behind a surprisingly impressive vocal ability and much gymnastic dancing dexterity on stage. They have breached the transition from online skits to television and through to live performance with apparent ease. Don't be fooled by the silly antics and faux-bravado macho posturing on display - there is a wealth of intelligence in The Rubberbandits' lyrics - covering Irish history, politics and injustices over the last couple of centuries. So much so in fact, that it is hard to imagine it striking any resonance with a young English crowd. Luckily the duo have the knack for writing incredibly catchy hooks and melodies, and mask their intellectualism within foot-stomping beats and deliciously soulful music. Highly recommended (if you can get past the masks).

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Interview (2013)
Ten - Interview
Dominic Simpson talks to Leeds-based musician Dominic Deane about his evocative instrumental project TEN, whose music combines modern classicism and post-rock

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