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CRAIG ROBINSON & THE NASTY DELICIOUS @ The Rosemount Hotel

Craig Robinson 2
with Dr El Suavo
Tuesday, December 19, 2016
Rosemount Hotel

As a Hollywood Funnyman, Craig Robinson is a well-known, familiar face – a friend of Seth Rogen and James Franco, appearing in many films with the stoner comedy elite, such as Pineapple Express, This Is The End and Hot Tub Time Machine, as well as the US version of The Office. As a live performer he’s not known as well, so it was hard to know what to expect when news emerged that Robinson would be coming to play The Rosemount with his band. What that entailed, I guess is up to the eye of the beholder.

Most fans would know that Robinson doesn’t tour as a stand-up comedian, but rather as a musical comedy act, in this case with his full band The Nasty Delicious – a formidable and talented group of musicians. Robinson himself sits behind his keyboard, playing some chords, talking some jive and takes you on a random and rambling tour through his mind with some recurring riffs, while periodically launching into epic funk jams.

Robinson is undoubtedly a funny, charismatic man – though a key element in his comedy is his physicality – and if you can’t see him, he loses that. So for some, at a packed Rosemount it was hard to see, which detracted from the show a bit, as he doesn’t simply crack jokes. Though it seems some people were expecting that – a more traditional theatre show. These seem to be the sort of people who’ve never been to a Fringe show before, have certain misaligned expectations, and want their comedy in easily digestible form. It’s very easy to look up venue and show info, as well as footage of his live show that he has been performing around the world for over 10 years.

Whatever the case, there were several factors that really didn’t help Craig’s cause. The promotion and organisation of the gig was vague and lacking to say the least – the venue wasn’t really particularly suitable, no information about set times or support acts was given before the show. Upon arrival, set times were posted on the wall. A band played early on that wasn’t mentioned. Worst of all was the bizarre support act, crucial to building the vibe and warming up the room. Who or what Dr El Suavo is and why he was on the bill tonight beggars belief. Apparently hailing from Melbourne, he’s known as the world’s worst magician, and for good reason. Even more strangely is that he has been doing this for over 20 years. Why? Is the question many were asking.

Sporting a suit, a freaky red, spiral mask and a fez hat, he was aggressive, offensive and simply not funny. It was not clever or ironic, just bad. He started off by making a ‘joke’ about women’s periods and how y’know, they get all pissed off and shit, and it pretty much went downhill from there. During and after the show, the general consensus was WTF was that? Suavo was anything but – he simply ruined the mood and got the night off to bad start – making people feel awkward, offended or simply leave.

Thankfully Suavo was soon gone and a DJ took over. Apparently Craig’s little bro, DJ Chris mixed up a fun and fairly innocuous selection of R’n’B and classic hip hop jams, trying to restore the vibe of the room and wash out the bad taste of the previous act. Towards the end of his set, he even played a couple of his own productions, rapping live over the top. He was decent, though not really helped by the mix, and the crowd were getting impatient by this point.

Finally as it neared 10, Chris moved over to the keyboards and introduced The Nasty Delicious! Filling the stage snugly, the 7-piece band comprised of a keyboardist, guitarist, drummer, bassist and 3-piece horn section – and together they created a huge sound. Each of them took turns to solo, introducing themselves. The trumpet player was awesome, the bass player was a total dude, slapping some serious grooves, while the sax player was dressed almost as fine as he played. Finally the atmosphere of the room lifted. Suddenly we had pros on stage after all the amateurs!

Craig Robinson 1

Chris acted as the hype man, and got everyone pumped up before a ludicrously over the top intro for Robinson featuring the 2001: A Space Odyssey theme. The big man finally took the stage to much applause, sitting down behind his keyboard at the front of the stage. His appearance alone made everyone feel better.

After warming up with a big jam, Robinson broke it down to a more slow ‘n’ sexy groove. Leading the crowd in singing “Take your panties off” much like he did with Rihanna and co. in This Is The End, before spicing up some other songs, including Amazing Grace by inserting the phrase.

Robinson is more like a cabaret act with his musical banter, though a lot of it relies on his fame, as he makes jokes and references to many of his movies and TV shows – whether it’s playing the theme from The Office, or rocking out his surprisingly awesome rendition of Jessie’s Girl as seen in Hot Tub Time Machine, and even referring to his hilarious cameo in Brooklyn Nine-Nine as the Pontiac Bandit.

He’s a loveable character and settled into his groove with some slinky Barry White style jams. He serenaded a young single man at the front called Russell, creating a hilarious sexy groove based around whether Russell was gonna go home and make love tonight. Another highlight was where he imagined what it would be like to have a band play the Chicago Bulls “team intro” hype music, every time you’re about to have sex. His ability to take an absurd idea or phrase and turn it into a legit sounding tune is his forte, and reminiscent of Flight of the Conchords and The Mighty Boosh.

He seemed to be having fun and casually continued past his scheduled 11pm finish time til around 12! Unfortunate for those that believed the posters on the wall and left around 11, as they missed the thinned-out crowd and intimate atmosphere towards the end, where there was some genuine love and affection between Craig and the crowd, this being his last show in our country.

Robinson’s voice is really quite impressive when he gets going, despite his tongue in cheek delivery, and his band are obviously serious about their music. They kicked into an epic, triumphant jam near the end that built to an almost deafening pitch. Robinson left the stage, allowing the band to take over, and they kept rising, really driving it home, before breaking out into a tight riff, followed by a rumbling drum solo. The sound was great all night, loud and well mixed.

After a break, he came back on for a final session, jamming out Sweet Dreams for “the white people to get down”. Then played the dramatic theme from The Godfather, before the band dropped in behind it with a heavy reggae beat for a hilarious makeover that worked amazingly well.

All up it was a fun night. Mr Robinson came and did his thing – and to tour an 8-piece band and play for over two hours, you certainly got your money’s worth. The night definitely could have benefited from a more suitable venue and support, but for those who stuck it out and got a good spot, it was an entertaining evening in the presence of one of their favourite funnymen, and a chance to enjoy him indulging himself with an extravagant performance fronting a world class band.

Words and Photos by

ALFRED GORMAN

 

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