Review: Hairy Bikers: Larger Than Live

Things you would expect from a live show presented by two chefs: cookery. Things you would not expect: musical numbers, spangly leotards, tiny drum kits, quizzes, a striptease and escapology. In light of these expectations, I can only describe Hairy Bikers: Larger than Live as utterly surprising.

The Hairy Bikers, the comedy, culinary double-act of Si King and Dave Myers, shot to fame in recent years for their honest and unpretentious cookery and their down-to-earth sense of humour, all of which is present in their live show. Despite some comments - and costumes - that would not make it past the editing room pre-watershed (their strip-tease just before the interval indicated they are not as hairy as first advertised), the good, wholesome fun of their TV shows runs right through the live performance.

©Hairy Bikers; Image credit: Hairy Bikers

The live show is punctuated by short videos of the Hairies’ (as they’re known) world travels, projected upon a screen at the back of a stage. From drinking snake wine and eating deer penis in Vietnam to outdoor hot-tubbing in tiny knitted swim shorts in Norway, the videos are amusing snippets of the ridiculous things the Hairies do and their fantastic rapport with each other but, disappointingly, do not differentiate much from the content of their TV shows.

Unfortunately, the live back-and-forth between the pair is over-scripted and lacks the spontaneity and sincerity of comfortable conversation. Nevertheless the evening is a light-hearted jaunt which never professes to be high culture or infallible. This is made evident by the bizarre variety element to the performance. At the top of the show, rock music swells, smoke fills the stage and coloured moving lights sweep through the entire auditorium, Si and Dave then enter from the wings on wheeled, leather thrones bedazzled with an array of spatulas, pizza wheels and potato mashers, not to mention the flame decals. The tone is set from the start. A new track then starts and we are treated to a rendition of the Proclaimers’ 500 Miles with new, special, cookery based lyrics (And when I flambé/ Well you know I’m gonna be/ I’m gonna be the man who burns it up for you).

As expected, the cookery aspect of the show was the most successful, but for much of the performance it was conspicuous by its absence. In a two-hour show, the Bikers only prepared four dishes in front of the audience, spring onion pakora and a healthy chicken jalfrezi and a warm duck and bacon salad followed by pan-fried salmon with a dill hollandaise sauce. The recipes were easy to follow and smelled delicious. The cookery was filmed by a stagehand and linked up to a live feed so all the audience could watch the process. It was during the cookery that the pair were most relaxed and most entertaining and the performance would have done well to have more of this instead of the baffling holiday camp entertainment that made up the majority of the evening. You forgive the Hairy Bikers, somewhat, for not being astounding entertainers when it comes to their songs, quizzes and attempts at escapology but you can’t help but wonder why this show has been put together. Yes, they are entertaining, but only in the same way your Dad and Uncle are entertaining when they have a bit too much at a family gathering and decide that karaoke is a brilliant idea. It is certainly nothing that no one else could do.

You come away from Hairy Bikers: Larger than Live with a sense of bafflement and emptiness, and not only because you’re starving for the food they cooked. 75% of the show is sheer absurdity which, in all honesty, is not worth the face value of the ticket. However, if you’re up for a night of silliness and are not too bothered about learning much about cookery, this is an entertaining, if not very strange, night out. Si and Dave are undeniably funny and create an intimate-feeling show but I would suggest they stick to the day job. After all, that is what they’re best at.

For details of the Hairy Bikers: Larger than Live tour, please click here

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