Matt Berry And The Maypoles: Live

That joke isn’t funny anymore.

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“If you come to one of our gigs expecting a character, or a stand-up routine then you could be very disappointed,” says actor and comedian Matt Berry (The IT Crowd, Toast Of London) of his free-form musical outings with The Maypoles. Or perhaps not: Berry’s musical endeavours are often unintentionally hilarious.

On this compilation of recent live shows, no corny roots subculture is left unindulged: Jethro Tull pastoral prog (The Pheasant), blaxploitation funk (The Innkeeper’s Song), Van Morrison folk rock (Medicine), gypsy reel (Devil Inside) and seafaring shanty (October Sun).

It sounds like the work of a surreal, delusional prog-jazz beatnik made entirely of cheese that Berry might have played in The Mighty Boosh.

Despite his protestations, he knows the band are fundamentally comic. No serious actor/rocker would construct a druidic seven-minute meander indebted to Spinal Tap’s Stonehenge called Solstice, drop a snippet of Gary Numan’s Cars into a lengthy jazz jam or do a dub-reggae cover of the theme from Ronnie Corbett’s 80s late-starter sitcom Sorry!.

‘Your penguin’s in the bath/It was put there by your mum,’ he deadpans on the Moody Blues-ish Rosie, and the none-more-70s phase synth is set throughout to ‘tongue-in-cheek’. Still, as a trad dad pastiche it isn’t funny enough, and as a parallel career it’s a painful vanity project. Either way, avoid.

Mark Beaumont

Mark Beaumont is a music journalist with almost three decades' experience writing for publications including Classic Rock, NME, The Guardian, The Independent, The Telegraph, The Times, Uncut and Melody Maker. He has written major biographies on Muse, Jay-Z, The Killers, Kanye West and Bon Iver and his debut novel [6666666666] is available on Kindle.