Chapter Arts Centre, Sat 8 June
On Saturday afternoon, as part of the Go Faster Stripe Festival, Christian Reilly brought the funny to Chapter Arts Centre with a spiky, often hilarious set that included musical interpretations of famous artists such as Bono, Bon Jovi, Ed Sheeran and Chris Martin, among others. As Reilly notes, it’s very expensive to see those artists perform live, so he is doing us a favour by showing his uncanny impressions of them.
The set got off to a jittery start thanks to some awkward opening patter, partly due to Reilly having to explain that the show was being recorded for DVD release. But while he joked that he was recording a Netflix special (he wasn’t), the set that followed turned out to be much funnier than most Netflix specials. Awkward opening aside, once he burst into his opening musical number, with a song that saw Bono and the Devil battling it out for supremacy, he became more assured, and very, very funny. The short, punchy songs were finely honed and delivered with brio. It helped, of course, that Reilly is clearly a talented musician in his own right. The songs he performs are mostly satirical; silliness delivered with arch seriousness under a cowboy hat, but it is thanks to his own musical knowledge that he knows how to break the rules so well.
Occasionally, a song doesn’t land with quite the comedic force of the rest of the set; a song about Coldplay’s Chris Martin feels a bit old-hat, a joke with plenty of mileage on the clock, as did some Bryan Ferry material which Reilly has been using since at least 2013. There’s also a one-note Piers Morgan gag, and the obligatory song about Trump, which although scathing in its lyrics, is musically forgettable, ending the show on a disappointingly flat note, considering the strength of the material that preceded it.
These, however, are minor quibbles in what was overall a triumphant set. At one point Reilly mentioned, half-jokingly, that he remains in obscurity. This is not entirely true; he is highly-regarded, and rightly so, but you sense that soon his stellar reputation will translate into the acclaim he deserves.
words Josh Rees
Christian Reilly was performing as part of the Go Faster Stripe Comedy Festival