Live Review: Flight Of The Conchords, Arj Barker

10 July 2012 | 4:54 pm | Tom Simpkin

More Flight Of The Conchords More Flight Of The Conchords

The vast hordes of everyday folk who've converged on BEC for this auspicious occasion are treated to a surprise in the form of US comedian Arj Barker, who plays the erratic Dave in the Flight Of The Conchords series, the funny man relaxing the crowd with 30 minutes of both new material and old chestnuts. Discussion points include freeballing the eclipse (not recommended), the flick, Marley & Me, (not recommended, despite a passable Owen Wilson impersonation) and the Michael Phelps marijuana monologue (tasty greens definitely recommended for medicinal purposes), but it's Barker's laidback charm and clear affinity with this country that helps him effortlessly win over the enormous crowd.

Arj deftly segues the end of his set into the entrance of tonight's heroes, Flight Of The Conchords, the duo emerging with their heads covered in cheap speaker props to a backing tape blaring disco beats, proffering Too Many Dicks (On The Dance Floor), with Barker rapping a verse in character as Dave, before taking their seats – Jermaine Clement on stage right and his foil Bret McKenzie to his left – and beginning the pattern of awkward banter that makes tonight's performance so special, all captured on the respective big screens on each side of the stage for people in the cheap seats. They take up their guitars and spin around their helmets to reveal robot costumes (props tonight are sparse; it's all about the chemistry and the pair's wonderfully naive worldview) and jump into Robots, following quickly with the epic The Most Beautiful Girl (In The Room). There's a lot of such well-known material, but also some equally strong songs which aren't as ubiquitous – such as ye olde worlde ballad, The Summer Of 1353, and the hilarious new Fuck On The Ceiling – which add a sense of surprise to proceedings.

That the pair can entertain so many people so frugally (aided only by freaky-haired cellist Nigel) is testament to both the material and the delivery, augmented by some of their incredible tales of debauchery on the road (“it's not all muffins and undies” apparently). They're complete masters of deadpan – although they occasionally verge on breaking character during improvised moments – but ultimately it's the string of killer material such as Business Time, Hiphopopotamus Vs Rhymnoceros and the awesome pastiche, Bowie, being witnessed live for the first time in Brisbane that makes the performance a triumph. They rip off their clothes to reveal glam bodysuits for rocking finale, Demon Woman – followed by lamest gear-trashing in rock history – before returning for an encore by riding bicycles through the crowd (complete with stack hats), then finishing with the rampant fish sodomy of Back On The Road, the awkward We're Both In Love With A Sexy Lady and the hilarious (if slightly disturbing) Sugalumps. It's not that far from here to where FOTC live across the ditch, so here's hoping we get to enjoy their invigorating company again soon without having to undergo another such interminable wait.