Colin Hutton / Courtesy of the artist
Few are the comedians able to exploit the absurdity of the layman as Flight of the Conchords. With a lucid vision of hyper-literate zoo animals, David Bowie tributes and gender exercises that cover R & B, electroclash and rock-dad, Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie have built a cult ensemble which did not really diminish during the long periodic absences of the couple.
After the release of Flight of the Conchords' HBO in 2009, the two men dedicated their minds and spirit to Muppets moviesMoana and the satire of vampires What we do in the shadeand now they come back with a new album called Live in London. A recording taken from the 2018 live concerts of the Flight of the Conchords scene in the city – one of them having been recorded for a special HBO show last year – the new ensemble combines live performances of Conchords classics with loose pieces that the duo has played over the years, but never officially released.
Alas, it's not a revival of the HBO series that ended too early Flight of conchordsno more than one hour of new material; it's a victory lap for New Zealanders. Deeply fun and endearing, Live in London provides a showcase for Flight of the Conchords among the most irreverent members of its membership – two types of people just make jokes, go out and share the results with the masses.
Much of the joy lies here in listening to the jokes of Clement and McKenzie, who feel at short notice and overheard by their fictional sound in their Lower East Side apartment. Throughout their journey, they tell absurd stories about lifts, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and hotel muffins, including "rock-and-roll anecdotes".
Live in London also provides an excellent showcase for the ongoing gender agnosticism of Flight of the Conchords. Where their peers in the musical could rely heavily on the "comedic half" of this equation, Clement and McKenzie also have a knack for creating background music as rich and eclectic as the gags she accompanies. Take "Stana," an epic on the road that tells the story of a nasty man whose name is an anagram – or, better still, "Iain and Deanna," inspired by a work of office, so Franz Ferdinand ended up working a 9 to 5.
"We tried to stay young," Clement said at the start of their set. "We are trying to preserve ourselves like the sexy boys-men that you saw on TV 10 years ago." This is a sneaky self-assessment that should reassure audiences looking for a strong comeback, at least for now. It may not be coming soon, but at least the charm of flying Flight of the Conchords remains intact.
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