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Blue Man Group, Trent FM Arena

May 13 2009

THERE are two good reasons the place wasn't even a third of its capacity. And we're talking a couple of thousand people that wouldn't have filled the Royal Concert Hall.
Firstly, tickets were a steep £40. Not recession friendly. Particularly as -- and here's reason two -- it's hard to grasp exactly what The Blue Man Group is.
The three bald, blue, mute men learn How To Be A Megastar from an instruction DVD, purchased off a shopping channel. We follow them as they learn how to strike a pose, connect with their audience, pay tribute to the rock giants, feign sincerity, etc. etc. The on-screen instructions are projected on to three giant video screens.
There's a musical backing from a live band but, as with Stomp, percussion dominates -- the trio using luminous orange sticks (and wooden spoons) to beat a rhythm on instruments created from drainpipes, most of the time.
There are animation sequences, some of which make little sense. Was there a message to all this? If so, I couldn't work out if it was mocking the ego mania of the rock star, the excesses of the information age or the futility of office life.
Still, the show is weird, unique and at times very funny.
It may have been a relatively small crowd but they were up for a good night, joining in the rock poses, cheers and '?' in-joke (you had to be there).
Lifting a credit card from a handbag to pay for the DVD -- $4000 - was a nice touch. As was the Mexican wave.
And Post competition winner Judith Allen got to introduce the members of the band at the finale.
Gripes? At 90 minutes it was maybe a little short. And a few more classic rock anthems would have lifted the experience. The original tunes, sung by two vocalists in the backing band, were dark and dreary. The opening bars of Van Halen's Jump or even Madonna's Like A Virgin promised a euphoric few minutes but the encore needed but gave way to a complete version of the less than anthemic version of The Who's Teenage Wasteland.
Still, we won't see anything like it for a long while.

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