Bradford West Respect MP George Galloway was invited on stage at Ronnie Scott’s by host actor and comedian Keith Allen on the first night of the late night homage to The Establishment club, the Greek Street night spot that kickstarted the satire boom in the 1960s courtesy of Peter Cook whose widow Lin gave her blessing to the return of the historic name at Ronnie’s. Galloway sat down with Allen after delivering his joke about a man ‘wafting’ a blanket over another man having sex with his wife to talk about some of the fall out from Galloway’s recent controversial comments about rape, and discussed, to a bit of heckling, the controversial case of Julian Assange currently living in the Ecuadorian embassy having been granted political asylum. Galloway feels the rape charge against Assange is a set-up.
Allen introduced a range of comedians as the show continued. With continuity music by the James Pearson trio (Pearson, piano, Sam Burgess, bass, and Dave Ohm, drums) who played some snatches of little known Dudley Moore trio songs and other material although Allen confessed to the audience that he actually “fucking hated jazz”. First on was Glaswegian comic Arnold Brown whose droll lugubrious manner brought the poet Ivor Cutler to mind and perhaps even the patter of the maverick performer Earl Okin. Later came the disappointing Marian Pashley, the pretty tame Phil Nichol whose ‘I’m The Only Gay Eskimo’ routine went on a bit too long; slightly underwhelming Mark Nelson, and the likeable Ria Lina but who could have done with better material. There was a talented mime artist in a red wig, interpreting a Judy Garland recording from the 1960s which worked surprisingly well, but thank goodness for Terry Alderton who blew all the others away with a routine that was genuinely inventive, risky in some ways with a variety of voices delivered with his back to the audience, great microphone sound effects, and a playful routine utilising the assistance of an elderly chap in the front row of the audience. Maybe not risqué overall as in Peter Cook’s understanding of the word back in the Establishment days when the Lord Chamberlain had to be circumvented, how could it be?, but very engaging.
And finally a brief word about the sensational teenage four-piece from Cavan in Ireland, The Strypes, whose authentic and retro take on Yardbirds style blues-rock went down a treat with their rousing treatment of ‘You Can’t Judge A Book By The Cover’ and ‘My Generation’ among other numbers. It got lots of people in Ronnie’s on their hind legs and applauding with genuine enthusiasm. Jeff Beck sitting in the audience must have smiled and smiled.
Keith Allen (above) and The Strypes.
The Establishment continues tonight, 11.30pm