Robin Ince’s brain must be a very crowded space indeed: this try-out show for new material was supposedly for three shows, one about the brain, one about the media, and the other one I can’t remember. Actually it was mostly about the brain, not least Mr Ince’s brain, and how it works. He is always up for educating us about obscure, and interesting ( and when he tells them, usually creasingly funny) scientific facts. Did you know for instance that the Beluga whale is able to recognise its own reflection in a mirror? Try to picture how they carried out that research.
His style remains very much a scatter-gun approach, with ideas tumbling over each other at such a rate that he constantly interrupts himself with a new anecdote before he’s reached the end of the first one. There were digressions on the idiosyncrasies of Brian Cox, and Brian Blessed; affirmation that Piers Morgan in the flesh is, pleasingly, exactly as obnoxious as you had imagined; there were stories from the engaging weirdness of his own family life; there was much breathless charging from subject to subject, and it’s hard to say what the shape of the show was supposed to be. Hard for the audience, and hard, as he repeatedly said, for him.
Did it matter?
Robin Ince is never less than entertaining and intriguing; and very frequently achingly funny, and he’s a bit like a Ken Dodd de nos jours – not, I hasten to add, because of Diddy Men, but because once he’s started you just don’t know how long it will be before he finishes. This was a good two and a half hours, including a few feisty songs from the wittily contrarian Grace Petrie (he couldn’t help interrupting her, either) and absolutely none of it was dull.
John Christopher Wood