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I quite like Bill Bailey, especially having seen him live (from afar) at a music festival last year, enjoying him on TV panel shows and loving the Part Troll DVD. Unfortunately, Dandelion Mind didn't quite live up to my expectations so I definitely wouldn't say it's his best gig.
Dandelion Mind was released in 2010 and was film in Dublin at the 02 arena. The theme is, according to the blurb, that of 'doubt'. For those familiar with Bailey's stand up, you may have an idea of what to expect, and that's followed here. He presents a gig of ranting, comedy and musical interludes, serenading us with bizarre tales of life. Some sub-themes include creationism, celebrity culture, TV, and the technology of the supermarket. Musical accompaniments including a revisit to his youth with Gary Numan and hitting the 'oud' and some input from the audience.
The film had a fairly well-rehearsed feel to it in the sense that he went from section to section quite well, keeping up a good pace and clear idea of what's what. It seemed organised, but still flexible, so it came across as being both well prepared and fairly naturally delivered. I liked the setting and the use of lighting, backdrops etc as this made it a little more interesting; Bailey can be amusing to watch anyway but this just added to the draw of using your eyes when playing the DVD, as I find a lot of stand-up you can watch with your ears alone and not miss much visually. He uses the stage, props and his face, giving us something engaging and entertaining to watch and listen to.
He makes good use of instruments, both the more recognised stuff like keyboards, and those that cause the audience to chant 'oud' consistently like a prayer, and also a very funky piece of Japanese equiptment called Tenori-on, which acts like a dot matrix music player. I really enjoyed seeing that because it's more original and sets this apart from other stand up, bring in something quirky and different to introduce us to.
There were a few things that stuck in my head, including the 'oud' chanting and the view from the Tesco scanner of Bailey hovering over it getting frustrated that his beloved food products wouldn't go through properly. I don't think there were necessarily as many moments like this, however, as there were in Part Troll. Whilst it may not be fair to draw too many comparisons, he was obviously aiming for a very similar feel and layout to this earlier DVD, but luckily he did manage to get the themes different enough that they felt separate.
I do like the more down-to-earth way he comes across, his ease with the audience and the ad-lib he does. He seems flexible and able to come up with a retort of the top of his head because he's not 100% regimented by what he's written; he does 'his thang' naturally and fluidly, making it easier and more relaxed to watch.
Now comes the downside. Whilst some of the comedy was fairly funny and it flowed okay in parts, there were definitely times I felt a little disappointed. It didn't seem as quick, as witty and original, as gripping to watch as some of his other stuff. Especially towards the end; the ending seemed like a bit of a mish mash, I couldn't hear it very clearly when he was singing so I didn't find it funny, rather it just dragged on a bit too much. This was unfortunate because it then left me feeling rather disappointed by the end.
Would I recommend? Fans of Bailey may be a tad disappointed like myself, but it's a light enough comedy to watch that's entertaining and a bit different to others in this genre. It's not his best in my opinion, so I couldn't give it a raving review to go out and watch it, but as far as stand-ups go you could do worse. Luckily, even though this DVD wasn't as strong as it could have been, Bailey is still a loveable character that's easy to watch. It still gets a 4 from me because I still love Bailey and find he's entertaining to watch, except for the let down towards the end.
DVD released 2010, rated Certificate 12
Selling on Amazon for £3.97
Although I haven't written them down, I have a few resolutions for 2012. Increasing savings is one of them, and another is reducing my Amazon wishlist. The two don't really go together, but one method of reducing the wishlist is to rent DVDs rather than buying them (using my 6 month Lovefilm subscription). However, there are still those which I do 'need' for my collection. Being a Bill Bailey fan, I happily parted with £3.31 (Used, including P&P on Amazon) and bought Bill Bailey's 'Dandelion Mind'.
I'd be surprised if people don't know who Bill Bailey is...he's the bearded one who frequently appears on 'QI', 'Never Mind the Buzzcocks' and 'Have I Got News for You'. I became acquainted with him through watching "Black Books" (one of my two favourite TV series EVER), and following that my ex and I bought his stand-up DVDs - 'Cosmic Jam', 'Bewilderness' and 'Part Troll'.
More recently I got the DVD of his "Tinselworm" tour, which was quite frankly disappointing, and I think I've only watched it the once - a lot of the material was repeated from his earlier stuff. Despite this, I was eager to see what "Dandelion Mind" had to offer, even if it took me over a year to finally buy it (released in November 2010).
My friend Graeme and I have a bit of a thing with dandelions (and blowing on them), and just a mention of 'dandelion' makes me start laughing like a madwoman (incidentally I am a madwoman), so this DVD was a hit before I even put it on.
After the trailers (one being for the film 'Paul' - fab film...unsure if there were other trailers as I skipped through) we arrive at the main menu - Play, Chapters, Bonus and Subtitles.
The 'Dandelion Mind' DVD is a recording of his 2010 tour, this date being at the O2 in Dublin. We begin with a number of comments surrounding the Irish and the English.
Bill Bailey addresses various topical (and not so topical) issues in 'Dandelion Mind' - Wayne Rooney, Dan Brown, Obama, barnacles (!), empathy, Simon Cowell, Michael Winner, self-service scanners in supermarkets, Countrylife butter, the ash cloud, the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony, Twitter, cremations, Revels, Malibu... and others.
One of the longer sections is Bailey's discussion of images depicting Thomas touching "the wound of Christ" - this is absolutely hilarious, and I was actually laughing out loud. Talking of laughing out loud, I LOVED Bailey's Internet Lovesong about Twitter (my links don't seem to work, so go to Youtube and type in Bill Bailey Twitter ) - and his acronym 'roflysst'! Absolutely amazing, and almost up to the standard of "Hats off to the Zebras".
To those who aren't aware, Bill Bailey is an extremely talented musician, and 'Dandelion Mind' doesn't disappoint - from air guitar to real guitar, from recorder to synthesiser, from a random Japanese thing to the 'Oud' - Oooooooooooooud. And he sings along of course.
His James Blunt song is an absolute classic (you can see it on Youtube and search for Bill Bailey James Blunt ). Bailey describes James Blunt as "more annoying than paper cuts". Personally I don't mind James Blunt, but this doesn't detract from my enjoyment of it since it is oh so true. Bailey has such a talent for...well, just such talent in general!
The other musical bits are fabulous with some great videos projected on the screen behind him. At the end of the show Bailey is joined by Kevin Eldon (who if you're a fan of Black Books you'll remember as the 'DIRTY' cleaner in episode 3) for a song.
On a personal level the bit which really stuck with me was when Bailey says "I was so outraged I NEARLY threw my cous cous across the room". Now, I went through absolute shit with my ex, but the only time I actually threw anything at him was the day I Frisbee'd my cous cous across the living room at him - yes, VERY 'middle-class' I know. It was a classic (albeit somewhat messy) scenario, and I'm sure Bill Bailey would be very impressed - perhaps he might read this review and see that yes these things do occur.
Just as you think it's all over, and half of the audience have left the O2, Bailey returns to the stage and gives an excellent rendition of "Midnight in Parliament Square." Those who have seen "Bewilderness" will know this well - those who don't might like to check it out on Youtube - search for Bill Bailey Parliament Square.
There's something a bit disconcerting watching a comedy DVD with Surround Sound - having people laughing behind your shoulder! The show lasts 1 hour and 31 minutes, and the DVD has a 12 certificate.
There are two bonus features on the DVD.
"Scenic Roots" - a 44 minute documentary which follows Bailey on one of his tours, from the Scottish Highlands down to Cumbria. It's well worth watching. I am so disappointed that I wasn't aware Bailey was appearing in Penrith and Carlisle in June 2010. But I wasn't aware of much which was going on in 2010 outside of my own head. And really, it might not have been a good idea anyway, as Bill Bailey was very much something that my ex and I would have enjoyed together. That said, time has passed now, and hopefully I will get a chance to see Bailey perform in the future - but for now I'll have to make do with the DVDs.
"Nemesis of the insect nepenthes Bill Bailey" - a 2 minute clip of Bill Bailey at the Chelsea Flower Show (The Glastonbury of Plants). Bill Bailey has a keen interest in conservation and wildlife.
I would highly recommend "Dandelion Mind". If you like Bill Bailey, you won't be disappointed (you'll know for sure if you're going to like it if you've followed the Yotube suggestions I've posted in this review). The DVD can currently be bought new on Amazon for £7.99, or less second hand. Alternatively you could buy the box set which includes this and 5 other DVDs for £39.99.
You can find out more about Bill Bailey on www.billbailey.co.uk - the website is cool! I visited it for the purpose of writing this review, and ended up buying a t-shirt and a book...the whole saving money thing is not going well!
Bill Bailey has been one of my favourite comedians for years. The mixture of surrealist humour, the heavy incorporation of music in his shows and philosophical rants and jokes couldn't be any better if I'm looking for a good laugh.
In 'Dandelion Mind', Bill Bailey introduces mostly new material to the show, as usual covering various subjects, angry rants, random jokes all of which are very well explained due to his exceptional vocabulary, which has always been a huge part of his stand up.
In comparison to Bill's last release "Tinsel Worm", I would say that the general stand up talking area of the show contained a much better quality of humour, I did find that it was much funnier in that sense. However one thing that lets the show down, and quite massively in my opinion is the lack of music mixed in with the show. In comparision to previous titles there is much less of a musical side, which is clearly lacking throughout the show and especially at the end, much to my dissapointment.
Overall however I'd say it was an enjoyable watch, and one that had tears of laughter dribbling from my eyes which is what I'm usually hoping for before watching a comedy.