A Bill worth paying at last...

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey

BILL BAILEY

QUALMPEDDLAR

Preston Guild Hall

Few comedians can fit defence of the NHS and mocking everyone from political leaders to reality television alongside playing heavy rock on a set of shiny horns and prodding audience members with a large stick.

Fortunately, Bill Bailey is one of those who can.

Armed with an unlit smoking pipe which he wields like a child puffing a chocolate cigarette, this is the usual mix of childish silliness, fierce intelligence and, of course, an eclectic musical accompaniment from the many who introduces himself as “that guy from Have I Got QI Never Mind the Black Books For You.”

Qualmpeddler brings Bailey back nearer to his career triumph, Part Troll, than the perhaps overly musical previous tours, Tinselworm and Dandelion Mind, and is an enjoyable amble through his surreal musings coupled with a bit of musical theatre and traditional stand up.

Such is his ability to take a sideways look at even the most seemingly well-worn comedic topics that he is able to inform us of an unlikely enlightenment he was received from reality television star Chantelle Houghton, express his frustration at humming Britney Spears at “some indie half-wit” during his Never Mind the Buzzcocks days, and tell the tale of rescuing an owl from the menu of a Chinese restaurant.

This is Bailey proving that being funny goes a long way in comedy, but the talented musician isn’t going to let us go that easily.

Those admirers of his former work will be glad to know that a dubstep version of the Downton Abbey theme tune, the Match of the Day opening chords in the style of a Jewish folk song, and the debut Westcountry death metal group, Ripped Apart by Badgers, all appear before the curtain comes down.

And if you thought the tale of rescuing a Eurasian Eagle Owl from a menu in the Far East was just another lopsided musing, the home video of its release by the Bailey family at the curtain call leaves you realising otherwise – and, of course, with a smile on your face.

David Coates