It’s James Sherwood’s first gig of the run, and it tells. After arriving late and delaying the start time by ten minutes, he explains that this is more like a preview.
His voice and piano ability are strong, however he is let down by a raggedy first performance of fluffed lines and technical difficulties.
First show slip-ups aside, Sherwood proves to be an imaginative writer and injects much of his best material with topical detail, such as his first song You Bring Out the Best in Me. Set to an upbeat ragtime tune, the song details all the ways in which finding a partner has changed him from a polite citizen to a rude, nasty person. This escalates; Sherwood’s transformed persona was apparently responsible for some pretty annoying recent events – such as the changed BBC Wimbledon coverage. The song is funny but begins with little introduction meaning it’s not particularly well-integrated into the set.
Later songs proceed more naturally. Sherwood’s left wing stand-up examines the Labour party’s recent history. He is affectionately disparaging of Ed Miliband, and one song manages rattles off a list of different famous Jeremys, including Corbyn of course. Digging at Andrew Mitchell, Sherwood impressively manages to find rhymes with ‘pleb’ to satisfy the scheme of each verse.
Unfortunately Sherwood has not memorised many of his songs, and sometimes disappoints with a faltering delivery. The weaker songs come at the end, with less interesting ones focussing on a massive chemistry shop and a crepe. It’s jolly stuff, and provides light entertainment, but if you’re looking for cutting edge this is not the place to look. The final tune is the worst received, Sherwood’s mock rock intensity falling flat in a ballad about asparagus-smelling wee.
It’s a mixed tape of material, with some gems among the banal. Sherwood has evident musical talent, and a real knack for rhyming. If he could memorise the words, and arrive on time to his gigs, he’d have a much better show.