Saturday, April 15, 2006

Talk About The Passion

This is the story of the evening we went to see The Smiths...

It was the first time I'd been to the Brixton Academy and we turned up at our usual time, hoping to catch some of the support band just in case they might one day be famous. The support band that night were James who did indeed go on to become massive vegan stadium rockers.

But we missed James and God knows how many minutes of The Smiths as it seemed that the gig had started on time. So it's not only Kraftwerk who do that sort of thing.

A couple of my friends rushed down to the Moz Pit and the remainder of us stood at the back of the long, long auditorium. We were very bored as The Smiths live were just like The Smiths on record. And what's the point of that?

The next morning I got a phone call to say that one of my friends was in hospital. On the train, on his way back from the gig that previous night, he'd asked a group of young lads to stop racially abusing an elderly couple. The meatheads got off at the same stop as my friend and proceeded to kick the shit out of him.

So there we have a story and a moral. Sticks and stones may break your bones, so don't reply to idiot words unless you can out-muscle the idiots.

Getting on for a quarter of a century later and James' Tim Booth plays Judas in The Manchester Passion. Tim eats nothing but bacon now so he could well be a real life Judas to Morrissey, too. Where once was a floppy, curly mop of wanky hair, there is now a bald pate. He looks mad in the way Michael Stipe looks mad, i.e. not very convincingly mad.

This is the story of Jesus Christ's crucifixion and resurrection updated to the 1990s, including the most famous songs of some of Manchester's finest pop proponents (and Stoke's Robbie Williams), performed by actors, Tim Booth and Denise Johnson.

The bloke playing Jesus is John Simm-lite with even less charisma. He makes his way to Albert Square from one direction, whilst a large neon cross is carried from another part of the city by some nutty Christians followed by the flotsam and jetsam of people of all faiths and apparently some of none.

We speak to a Muslim who says that Jesus is a prophet but not the son of God (which kind of does make Jesus a blasphemer) and a Scottish so-called punk who found Jesus in his early twenties , is now 29 and says that if Christ were alive now he would be at home with the freaks and the weirdos in the mosh pit of a punk gig. Oooooh, how weird!

But bollocks to the cross, the real action is happening where the actors are...

The Songs

1. As Judas leaves the rest of the gang to tell the authorities where Jesus is, he suddenly feels really bad about what he is about to do. He looked for a job and he found a job (and the reward) but heaven knows he's miserable now. Why does he spend so much time with people who don't care whether he lives or dies? This is accompanied by an acoustic guitar which confuses me as Dylan was called Judas for going electric. Booth yelps at the end like Morrissey with his knackers in a vice.

2. Meanwhile on the stage in Albert Square, mother Mary (Denise Johnson) sings M People's Search for the hero inside yourself, the theme to London's Olympic bid. The chorus is subtitled for us to sing along to at home. We do so with gusto.

3. As the disciples fall asleep at the last supper, Jesus for some reason sings James truly shit anthem, Sit Down. Now if the disciples have fallen asleep over their creme caramels, presumably they are already sitting down. Still, you've gotta give it to Jesus, he gets the audience watching him on the big screen sitting down like twats (well, with the guidance of our MC, prime stinky sausage Keith Allen, anyway).

4. Blue Monday. Judas comes back to the fold only to be forgiven by the saviour. They sing this one together, Judas with the line "If it wasn't for your misfortine, I'd be a heavenly person today." Deep, eh?

5. I Am The Resurrection, just the verse mind, sung by the token black disciple as the cops come to take away our hero. The disciple denies he knows Jesus. Oooh, isn't this such a HUMAN story?

6. Mary starts up her first version of Robbie's Angels on stage. Suitable because Angels is the most popular funeral song of our age. I just wish they'd cremate the fucking thing.

7. After Barrabas, played by the REAL star of the show, Chris Bisson formerly of Corrie, is pardoned and Jesus is sentenced to death by Keith Allen, Keith and Jesus then sing Wonderwall together. What the fuck?

8. Mary's rolled on again for Elkie Brooks' Sunshine After The Rain as the crucifixion takes place elsewhere as Keith says we don't have public executions any more.

9. Jesus suddenly appears by the Town Hall Clock and sings the CHORUS to I Am The Resurrection. This is what we have been waiting for and the audience go mad and we all sing along at home.

10. Out of the blue, Angels starts up again, there is an enormous cheer and we think Robbie's turned up, but no it's the whole cast joining in the great dirge. Keith Allen says goodnight it's all in The Bible and we're all born again. The midwife slaps my arse and makes me cry.

** As this was the Manchester Passion, there is of course a cameo appearence by Anthony H Wilson.

Jesus H Christ.


  1. Does Keith Allen still think the miners are on strike?

  2. It's Thai New Year right now. Everybody's getting pissed, dousing each other with water and face powder, and dancing to the local brand of folk music (think sedate bhangra). It's all a bit annoying, but at least we don't get Keith Allen.

  3. The BBC have a habit of giving jobs to people who nobody in Britain likes. Keith Allen is one. Rowland Rivron is another. Mark Lawrenson.

  4. Best suggested song I heard was from The Guardian yesterday:

    'yippy-yippy yiyiyay heh heh...
    I had to crucify somebody today...'

  5. They did play an instrumental version of a Black Grape song which I didn't recognise. No Happy Mondays, though.

    Surprisingly no Fall, Durutti Column or 10cc.

  6. Or Freddie and the Dreamers.

  7. Picture the scene. A bunch of drunk christians are slumped in front of a Moulin Rouge DVD.

    One of them says "Hey! I've just had an idea how we can spread the word!"

    Eventually one of them stirs and says, "How's that then, oh blessed brother?"

    "We get Baz Luhrman to do it!"

  8. Starring some Scientologists?

  9. now, i love robbie williams as much as the next homosexual-rumour-denying, crazed thirty-something female obsessive, but sticking "angels" in that sounds like a fucking dreadful idea.

  10. I know exactly where I'd stick Angels.

  11. Crikey. You watched it ALL?

    I managed about 45 seconds.