My stuff and your stuff: I write books, produce music, rant a bit, and in the meantime review things other people have done. With words.
Hammersmith – Reeves and Mortimer, drugs and hipsters
London is an amazing place. People either speak very highly of it or dislike it, or somewhere in between, just like anything else I suppose. I like parts of London. Trafalgar Square has a nice pub just off it, and the South Bank is fun. The bit with restaurants and massive grey buildings that will last until the end of time. Leicester Square is a source of fond memories. Hazy ones at best. Covent Garden has a lot going for it. The rest is shit.
Hammersmith is home to the Apollo. It used to be called the Hammersmith Apollo but now it’s called the Eventim Apollo. I don’t know what Eventim is but gather it’s some sort of corporate nonsense composite word. In any case, I shall call it the Hammersmith Apollo, because that’s what it is. There’s a massive flyover bridge right in front of the venue. It’s ugly and imposing.
Nevertheless, I had the great pleasure of attending a show to commemorate 25 years of Reeves and Mortimer there this month and it was almost 25 years to the day that I saw those funny bastards perform at the same venue. As it’s only a half-hour drive from my humble dwelling, my accomplice and I went that way rather than the two-hour train ballache.
Hammersmith is effectively a collection of frighteningly wide roads and incomprehensible roundabouts joining together a bunch of shops and restaurant/bars, some exceedingly creepy housing estates and then the bits where the rich people live. At 6pm it’s a hive of activity. Lads and lasses mill about, having just finished work; the pubs are bustling and there’s a nice smell of drugs in the air.
We chose a car park just three minutes’ walk from the venue. On one side of the car park is a respectable street with big houses and a church. On the other is one of those high-rise estates with loads of dark alleys, weirdly angular outbuildings and murderers lurking in every shadow. Probably.
At 10pm, Hammersmith is a ghost town. The pubs are empty. The streets are quiet as mice in a soundproofed vacuum. And yet you can still smell the drugs. Perhaps they’re dispersed overhead by crop dusters. Hard to tell in the dark.
Reeves and Mortimer were brilliant, as one would expect if you like their particular brand of humour. Tracing most of the old gags and introducing a few new ones, the show itself was great. Ten quid for a G&T though is pushing the boundaries of acceptable boozery. It’s a fairly mercenary business, this event stuff, reinforced by the squeezing in of as many punters as possible. Economies of scale and all that, sure, but having five fewer seats in each row would give everyone a little bit of elbow room. Not that I need to wave my arms about but generally speaking, I’d rather not be mere millimetres from the hipster twat in the seat next to me. His ridiculous beard and all.
Really, what is it with this look? How is it deemed acceptable? There have always been conformists and I can accept that’s part of (simple minded) human nature but when that look is just so fucking stupid it makes me wonder how the thought process goes.
Hmm. Just seen a photo of a man wearing half-mast slacks and boater moccasins. Oh, and that long, unkempt beard. Mmm, a good foot too much hair on the chin there. Loving that Victorian style jacket too. That’s definitely how I want to look. I’m going to grow a fucking stupid beard and dress like someone from the mid to late 1800s. Then I’m going to Hammersmith.
Perhaps the worst part of it is that these bush-chinned simpletons congregate in groups, looking like some kind of displaced alternate race who’ve been hanging round in Hammersmith so long that the drug fumes have permanently affected their DNA: the Irreversible Hipster Mutation. I'm all up for individual expression, but that isn't. It's twattery.
The Apollo, before I forget, is the kind of place that won’t exist in another 25 years, and I’d say there’s no comparable comedy act born today that’s going to be worth revisiting in 25 years anyway. Reeves and Mortimer are a product of their time – the late 80s and, happily, all the way to the present day. Where Monty Python’s cash-grab revival seemed a bit desperate with its stars’ comedy chops having waned many years previously, R&M are as sharp as ever because they’ve never stopped doing it. Slapdash, silly and above all it’s good, mostly clean fun. Monty Python had an abundance of superb sketches but they forgot how to play them properly.
R&M is classic British comedy done right, from Vic Reeves’ Big Night Out through The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer, Bang Bang…, Shooting Stars and the most recent, House of Fools (as well as all the other stuff they’ve done, some separately).
So that’s that.
Special mention goes to the oddly named Lala restaurant, in spitting distance of the imposing, dystopian behemoth that is the Apollo, as the food and service were both excellent. It was reasonably priced, Turkish themed and we were served by a French chap who didn’t mind me saying ‘Je mange l’orange.’
The Apollo management must have been well chuffed when this bridge was built, right in front of and over the entrance. At least drivers can crane their necks to see the branding. On the London tour bus, were it to fly over Hammersmith, a guide might say: 'I hate my job. I hate Hammersmith. I hate the Eventim Apollo.'