Posted by: martinworster | November 3, 2009


Living near LA you get your pick of one off events and special gigs as there’s always a stream of artists and celebs either trying to make it here or to cement their positions at the top of their game. The latter obviously applies to Russell Brand. He’s well up there. He’s ‘dating’ Katie Perry. I bet he watches whilst she kisses other girls – lucky git. Recent footage showed him hanging out on Puff Daddy’s private jet. Nothing else illustrates that the diamond encrusted bling key to uber-success is firmly in his sweaty palm. He recently presented  the MTV awards for the second year running. In England he sells out stadiums and his ‘shaginans’ are still daily fodder for the tabloids.

The gig was in Hollywood at the Masonic Lodge. This was especially exciting for my dad who was over and came along for the show. On arriving, we discovered the venue was inside the Hollywood Forever cemetery on Hollywood Boulevard. Unfortunately it was dark when we arrived so we couldn’t explore the tomb stones of once glittering stars for whom the bright lights of stardom had long since dimmed.

The venue was perfect for Russell and had obviously been chosen by his producers to match his edgy personality. Gothic, edgy and baroque. I learnt that he was making a documentary about happiness – produced by Oliver Stone nonetheless, and the proceedings were to be filmed. 

We entered the building and waiting in a smaller room with a massive stone fireplace and wrought iron gothic chandeliers. After a few glasses of wine we were allowed into the inner sanctum of the temple where Russell was to perform. The gig was for 200 people – very small and intimate for Mr Brand. The main hall had red walls and a hanging star of David type pendulum swinging from the roof. This represented the eternity of God, my dad reliably informed me. Incongruous movie posters hung on the walls. On the stage a row of hand carved Baroque thrones awaited the king. I wondered what strange and perhaps lewd ritualistic ceremonies had taken place within these walls.

Russell jumped on stage an half an hour late and with shorter hair than when I’d last seen him. He gave us some brief background on the purpose of the show – this was in fact a rehearsal where he was trying out new material. The theme of the show was to be ‘happiness’ – not much more light was shone on this than that. Russell explained that despite the wealth and associated trappings that fame brings, he was still very much aware that we leave the world as we enter it – with nothing. Things must be a bit more beareable though, eh Russ? All that female adoration? A large bank account?

He’d recently spent some time in the Louisiana State Penitentiary – where apparently 98% of the prisoners don’t get out alive. He lived there for two weeks hanging out with assorted muderers and who knows what else. Lots of funny anecdotes ensued. Russell is a great raconteur. The pace – as would be expected – was different from the roller coaster gag-a-second romps of his stand up shows. This was no less funny though and left more room for thought.

It was still not really explained how most of the material was supposed to fit in with happiness. But Russell never was one for structure – his style is that of the jazz musician, riffing, going off on mad tangents. He talked about Donald Trump who he interviewed for the show. Trump – no news flash here – was very one dimensional. A man who is good at only one thing – making money. Devoid of spirituality and depth. Again hardly stop the press revelations.  

Russell is very eloquent. He possesses a great vocabulary, even if he is a bit over keen to impress us with his verbosity and sesquipedalianism (use of long words). His mind races, as would be expected of a former crack head – madly whirring around, hopping from one subject to another. But thankfully just about coherent. His personal philosophy is also all mixed up – talk of revolutions, sexual freedom, high theatrics, cockney music hall, Hare Krishna etc etc all melded into one just about balanced pot.

The show ended quite abruptly – although he ‘performed’ for around an hour and a half. Even though he hadn’t shone much philosophical light on happiness, I’d laughed a lot which made me a feel good – even happy…


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