REVIEW: The Blue Man Group at the O2
PUBLISHED: 11:39 20 February 2009 | UPDATED: 14:05 05 October 2010
By Ciaran McGrath IT was asking a lot of the enigmatic Blue Men to fill such an overwhelming space as the erstwhile Millennium Dome. After all, this is an act which has not followed the traditional path to stardom. The original trio (Phil Stanton, Chris
By Ciaran McGrath
IT was asking a lot of the enigmatic Blue Men to fill such an overwhelming space as the erstwhile Millennium Dome.
After all, this is an act which has not followed the traditional path to stardom. The original trio (Phil Stanton, Chris Wink and Matt Goldman) started off as street entertainers in New York, and though personnel have changed frequently since, even today they retain the air of an experimental theatre troupe - a sort of living, breathing installation in fact. You'd almost expect to find them tucked away in the Tate Modern somewhere.
Yet fill it they unquestionably did, both physically (the auditorium was packed) and with a performance which was as memorable as it was off-the-well.
Supported by their well-drilled backing group, the Blue Men showcased their skills on a variety of custom-built percussion instruments, kicking off with the Drumbone (a peculiar cross between a drum and a trombone, consisting of interlocking plastic tubes). Guitars raged in the background. A huge bass drum crashed. This was performance art.
By their very nature, Blue Man Group are subversive, a fact indicated by the title of the show, How To Be A Megastar, a vehicle for exposing and ridiculing the entertainment industry's many clichés and ultimately what they see as society's reliance on technology to the detriment of human relationships.
Where this show really came together was when all the performers came together as a cohesive band - for instance, with a sparkling performance of Donna Summer's disco classic, I Feel Love and the somewhat epic Up To The Roof complete with multimedia backdrop.
Not that it was all to everyone's taste. While the colourful pictures created by "paint spitting" were undeniably striking, the grotesque sight of one of the Blue Men catching upwards of 30 marshmallows in his mouth and vomiting them back onto canvas did strike one as a little unnecessary - although by immediately putting a price tag of £4,000 on it, they underlined their satirical intentions. Somebody out there probably would (ahem) cough up that much for it mind you.
Cynics may dismiss them as overblown, pretentious modern art with echoes of Leigh Bowery etc but in truth this was a powerful performance, regardless of what it actually meant. I left the O2 feeling anything but blue, which is after all the point, ultimately isn't it?