2006-01-12 : Now that’s just COOL !
When you see a poster for something called the Blue Man Group, showing a picture of what looks like 3 bald blue alien lookin' dudes, you can't help but wonder what in the hell it's all about. To be blunt the only thing I'd ever heard about them was what had been on Arrested Development, and even that was hardly indicative of what you'd expect at a gig. Nevertheless, Ben & Sarah were in town and I was determined to take them to something, so throwing caution to the winds I booked us tickets and along we went !
I was vaguely aware that the act involved paint to some extent, but of course you've got to be trepidatious when the first 6 or so rows of the audience are issued with protective ponchos.
I'm still at a bit of a loss to describe what we saw – it wasn't really mime, it wasn't really a play or a gig… it was just an evening of fairly engaging music, physical comedy, satire, and random other stuff (including making one godawful mess).
At pretty much all times there's music going on, provided by the band or by the blue men themselves, on a variety of weird custom-built instruments. They do a lot with PVC pipes, typically percussive music. One instrument's kind of a big tuned array of pipes of different lengths, which they play by thwapping on the open end with a flat rubber bat thing. Another thing they play is a mic'd bit of sewer pipe with an extendable join in it such that they can get more than one tone from it. They join this to another bit like it and are able to get 4 tones from the whole thing. It's so simple, yet it's so ingenious and cool ! It sounds like… well, distinctly like someone hitting a stick against a bit of PVC pipe, but musical at the same time !
It really was amazing how many emotions and how much meaning could be communicated non-verbally, especially in a world as bizarre as the one that these three live in – they started off wearing full face welding masks and drumming, and pouring liquid paint onto the drum skins so that huge colourful eruptions shot into the air depending how hard they hit the drums.
Another instrument they had was what very much looked like a big radio antenna which was being swooshed around in the air ! Amazing how all this stuff fit together really well though.
If nothing else being in London has done for me, this show put the fear into me about being late – latecomers are treated to the full stage flashing lights, sirens whooping, and one of the Blue Men pointing a video camera at them which is relayed to a massive onstage screen, which an operatic baritone sings “You're LAAAAAAAAAAATE ! You're so LAAAAAAAAAAAAAATE !”. Highly amusing for us smug bastards who were there on time.
Amazing bit of tech, as well – the lighting and effects were awesome (amazing use of those scrolly red LED text thingos). As if the shiny blue bald heads and lack of ears didn't establish that these guys were weird straight away, they also had these small circular ports in the middle of their chests, which at various points in the show spewed/gushed out coloured paint and other substances.
Another thing which just floored me was the bit about catching “marshmallows” in their mouths (one of them turned out to have paint pellets, which he spat out onto a canvas and developed a little painting as the show progressed) – now I've spent many an afternoon trying to develop this skill, and it's bloody difficult. These guys however are EXPERTS, and can catch about 20 in a row thrown from across the width of a full stage ! That alone qualifies them for the sort of treatment that royalty should get, surely ?!
What else ? There was so much to describe really ! I was just so relieved it was as entertaining as it was, and that it wasn't just some big socially conscious self-aware artistic wank. We all came out of it agreeing that it was an awesome & fun show that we'd recommend to anyone.
And of course we stopped for a quick photo op with one of the Blue Men on the way out.
So in closing, I thoroughly recommend going along – it's a good bit of fun. But for god's sake don't be late.