Henry offers an hilarious run through his musical journey, from Blueberry Hill and beyond.

Lenny Henry Cradle to Rave
Brisbane QPAC Concert Hall
19 June 2012

Having caused more accidents through his local radio spot than a set of broken traffic lights in the Valley on a Saturday night, Lenny Henry took to the stage with one thing on his mind, more destruction through laughter.

This was a show based on music, but it didn’t overshadow the laughter. It allowed Henry to act bigger and fill the stage within the gag, unleashing his default setting of ‘show off.’ The early lines lacked Henry’s characteristic easy going flow, but as the laughs followed the punch lines, his natural groove enabled him to sound more like your mate monologue-ing in a pub about his favourite records.

After a lukewarm response to his Jubilee participation, escaping Down Under should have been what Lenny Henry needed. Unfortunately, he is faced with ex-wife, Dawn French, promoting flybuys during every other television ad break. But the crowd at Brisbane’s Concert Hall was very welcoming and responsive, showing a great understanding of Henry’s humour and active stand up style.

Often name checking Brisbane and the cultures we house, Lenny’s awareness of his surroundings show an artist not confined to his own backyard. This was further acknowledged in a production that clearly took the ‘Best Of’ approach rather than a rarities collection, which gave the audience a chance to enjoy his iPod rather than being excluded by the musical nerd on stage. It was a sharing of the more mainstream elements from a Jamaican immigrant’s son whose musical journey was a life growing up in Britain. With his shaved head and goatee beard Henry came on like Issac Hayes, but from Fats Domino and Elvis, through Robert Plant and Prince, Henry proves impressions are his real talent and had the audience applauding loudly.

Lenny spoke as if he knew the audience, and they him. The inclusive feel gave the full Concert Hall audience an intimate front room setting so he could continue talking as he flipped over to Side Two.

As soon as the second half of the show started it was clear Henry was aiming not to miss a beat by getting straight in to his act. There was less piano playing during this section of the show, which allowed the storytelling to take centre stage and Henry to get in to what would be a non-stop rhythm until his final bow.

After a very brief exit from the stage Lenny was back at the piano tinkling out Blueberry Hill, one of his father’s favourite records that he’d mentioned earlier. With words on the back screen and being encouraged to wave their arms from side to side the crowd participated in this finale, which led into great applause as the Black Country comedian left the stage.

Henry knows strengths and plays to them knowing the audience isn’t here for mother-in-law one liners from the old school. For an artist as accomplished as Henry, talking about one of his life’s loves is always going to be easy, but taking it further and beyond casual banter and effortlessly making the audience laugh out loud through the two hour show is what makes him a very skilled perfomer.

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  1. […] element to his stand up, from Jeff Beck playing on Lenny Live and Unleashed through to 2012’s Cradle to Rave – where he spoke solely about […]



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