Minchin beats the rain

Tim Minchin aws a crowd pleaser at Belton.
Tim Minchin aws a crowd pleaser at Belton.

IT was as if the multi-talented Antipodean singer/songwriter/comedian had a direct line to the ‘big man’ himself. As everyone settled down on Friday night for the start of Tim Minchin’s much-anticipated open-air gig in the shadow of Belton House, the clouds parted, the rain cleared and a perfect summer’s evening (albeit a little cool) of entertainment ensued.

A very mixed audience of over 3,000 fans hung on the wordsmith’s every line for over one-and-a-half hours in which he observed that the old stately home had probably never heard so many rude words spoken in one go.

But as he was quick to point out, they are just words and it is how you view them in context that counts. Few entertainers are such skilled lyricists as Minchin. Strong messages against such things as racial intolerance, poverty, environmentalism and respect of women are wrapped up in ironically amusing wordplay such as ‘Confession’ and ‘Prejudice’ where Tim inspired audience participation for the chorus, “only a ginger can call another ginger, ginger”, while the multiple puns of the surreal ‘Cheese’ had people joining in again.

The night was kicked off in rip-roaring style, even slipping in a little homage to Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven, that got everybody in the mood, before Tim madly paced back and forth along the edge of stage in his trademark bare feet.

This was followed up with the hilarious ‘Cont’ where he proceeded to reel off from a song lyric sheet his dislike for various colours and creeds – to his horror, before realising he had half the words covered up revealing the true title is ‘Context’, where he will only judge a person by their deeds.

Dark Side had us all up and dancing, while we also had a taste of his songs from Matilda the musical which he has recently penned to rave reviews.

The mad-haired red-head was curious about the stately setting, describing it as ‘awesome’ yet suspected it was not a hotbed of radical Marxism.

The only drawback about the light evening was no-one could see his light show beamed onto the frontage of Belton House until the very end and he jokingly expressed his frustration about having to see all our faces. But the feeling was not mutual as everyone lapped up this rare opportunity to see and hear a true talent in a beautiful setting – ideally put as he rounded off his second encore with the poignant ‘Beauty’.

A memorable evening, much appreciated.