Jonny & the Baptists: The Stop UKIP Tour

May 22nd, 2014
Soho Theatre, London

by Laura Patricia Jones

When attending a show with a strong political stance on the eve of the European election, it’s hard to know what to expect. I’d heard nothing but good things about Jonny & the Baptists but had yet to sample any of their material for myself. With a tour entitled ‘Stop UKIP’ and a full audience in attendance, it meant that I was unfortunately situated next to a group of rosette wearing UKIP members which had me slightly worried that I might be a little too close within hitting range if someone decided to get the tomatoes out.

I was in a constant wave of slightly hysterical laughter from beginning to end, not sure if I should have been finding potentially taboo political subjects this funny but as the rest of the audience were tittering away, I was in good company. I’ve seen this style of musical comedy act before, but not one that manages to hold an audience this well. I’m not entirely sure how they got away with a lot of the content that they did, but they worked it. During one song ‘Farage’ they deconstruct the meaning of Nigel Farage’s surname.  “There’s a new word in town. We didn’t quite know what it means, but it’s a nasty and unpleasant sound – Farage – It rhymes with same sex marriage.  Let’s spread it around, it’s like ouzo and sick, that’s the thing about Farage – It’s onomatopoeic.”

Other favourites included the Usher style ballad parody “Scotland don’t leave me” and the incredibly moving “When you grow up little girl” which had me close to tears when frontman Jonny envisaged how his niece would grow up in the world if UKIP got the vote.

I’ve always been a fan of the Soho Theatre as a venue, but the informality of the evening with audience members seated around tables and the freedom to go to the bar at anytime makes it feel very much like a night at the pub with friends. Jonny & the Baptists have a real stage presence about them. I was sat with a group of audience members who had been following the band around their tours since discovering them in Edinburgh, and with several other like minded followers in the room, it would appear that Jonny & the Baptist’s comedic take on what are quite profound political issues, is practically as powerful as the politics themselves.

Meeting with the band afterwards, they appear very down to earth and the presence they portray on stage is no front. It’s refreshing to hear of what is essentially a home grown fringe act from two blokes who met at a wedding, turn into such a success. Political views or no political views – you need to see this act who cannot fail to entertain, even if they don’t succeed at stopping UKIP from getting the vote!

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