You wouldn’t know it from their appearance, but Bret McKenzie and Jermaine Clement are all about the rock and roll lifestyle. At least they professed that during their Flight of the Conchords performance on June 16th at the historic Detroit Fox Theatre. They are also chronicling their behind the music in a book of their very own rock and roll. A lot was said during their hilariously magical act in song, banter between audience members, or just inane boring details that frankly felt refreshingly unscripted and downright entertaining. Pleasantly surprising is that the two mix it up with equal measures of new comedic jabs and old favorites.
“Don’t think we don’t know how to party. We’re very rock ‘n roll,” said Bret during the opening scenes of the show, which by the responses of those in attendance was very much in anticipation. Explaining their routines of their first leg of this tour was highlighted by the simplicity of their odd instruments that Jemaine would eventually use in hilarious fashion in every other song – the vibraslap which felt impeccably placed by the chimes. To up their creditability the duo had to perform “Party,” in which they beautifully described chips and dip, party etiquette in social situations, and party fouls.
Other such magnanimous moments of new material from the New Zealand act was the involvement of New Zealand Orchestra, one man – Nigel Collins; the medieval wooing number of “The Summer of 1353,” and “Seagull,” where Bret distinctly speaks as if he were a seagull (according to Jemaine’s metaphorical interpretation in the song itself), highlighted by a seagull piano solo with cusp hands beating away at multiple key strikes.
What can be counted on during the Flight of the Conchords show is their range of musical takes – jazzy accentuated by black and white visuals, western country style of a pants-less American man full of rage and pretty much an asshole of free expression, or Jemaine working the streets of Detroit as a prostitute. They bring it all to the forefront of absurdity.
Where the duo thrived on Thursday evening was their definitive ease in improv. Their lyrical obviousness of not only physical gaffes on stage but observational comedy in the crowd. At times instinctually Bret or Jemaine would yell at the people in the aisles getting drinks or going to the bathroom– “where the fuck are you going this is our jazz song? Hold your urine and just piss in a bag.”
It was hitting on all cylinders for everyone there with each laugh harder than the last. Evidence to their ingenuity during equipment failures, Jemaine blamed his backstage posse (who were wearing invisibility cloaks) of the problems until one eventually came out to hand him a new piece of equipment. “Why aren’t you using your cloak, those invisibility cloaks are really expensive,” Bret smirkingly criticized.
The pre-determined encore, stated by the duo early in the show: “it’s where the band pretends they won’t be coming out for a few more tracks, but really they do – well, you’ll all see eventually” was comprised of classics such as “Business Time,” “Bowie in Space,” and a hilariously new song on gym sex buddies called “Fuck You On The Ceiling” ending the non-stop delight the two delivered all night.