Jonny & The Baptists have in the past, unfairly in my opinion, been likened to Tenacious D. Yes, they are a comedy rock duo. Yes, lead singer Jonny has a booming, rock voice and is a little rotund. What sets Jonny & The Baptists apart, however, from the famed comedy rock gods is the acutely silly, highly intelligent and unashamedly middle class content of their music. Whereas Tenacious D are characters who think their band is producing diamonds of rock and are in real life soon to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Jonny & The Baptists are two genuine blokes who embrace their humour. This disposal of any set-up or pretence allows the comedy to pour out of them in every song as they riff on the things they know from their Reading heritage.
Instead of wailing ballads about fabled creatures and mythical demons, Jonny & The Baptists’ rap about the Scottish referendum, about middle class weddings and, in a song that had me reeling with laughter, about the way we stand up to moral, societal injustices. The lyrical content of their songs is superb, often leading the audience down the garden path and using a non-rhyme for comic effect or simply displaying their keen intellect and astute observations on the world of the average Briton. The song writing in general is of a high standard and the guitar melodies cracked out by Paddy Gervers are achievements within themselves.
Jonny & The Baptists have no hits to speak of but this works to their advantage. They are not pinned down by an audience waiting for them to crank out that one YouTube sensation. This allows them to structure the show so that it is much more than a set list of unrelated comedy songs. It has an arc, development, threads of jokes and within the hilarity they find points for some rather touching numbers -the bitter-sweet 'When You Grow Up Little Girl' written for Jonny's niece had the perfect blend of heart and hilarity and their politically motivated final song was genuinely moving.
The immensely likeable duo occasionally go off track with some odd asides but these are small complaints in a show that is rocking and rollicking in equal measure. Jonny & The Baptists are bigger than Judas and they definitely deserve 30 pieces of your silver.