Al & Anna’s Music Rant

By Colin Flaherty

The last time I saw Al Newstead and his Music Rant several years ago, he was on stage solo; dropping humorous truth bombs about the music industry. With the addition of co-conspirator Anna O’Bryan, the show has evolved into a slightly different beast that’s just as venomous. Covering topics including the ethics of music downloading/streaming, ghost songwriters, the diva demands of performers and the ignorance of certain “music fans”, they did a awesome job in informing while keeping us laughing.

Having two performers on stage allowed the show to move further into theatricality as Newstead and O’Bryan illustrated their topics using hilarious sketches to lampoon the sacred cows of the music industry. Using brilliant caricature they brought these, sometimes real life, colourful characters to life. Even if you were unfamiliar with the targets you were kept in stitches. They often used crazy facts that provided their own punch lines, pointed out to us by dropping briefly out of character to tell us so. Some tended to go on a bit too long but on the whole they kept the punters chuckling at the ridiculousness of the scenes.

The musical parody components were given a significant boost with O’Bryan’s inclusion. Not only did it broaden their scope to include many female performers, that Newstead would probably have struggled with on his own, but also allowed for some charming duets. They employed some spot on mimicry and if you listened closely enough you could also pick up some clever lines. Their show-stopper party piece involving a laundry list of 90s songs was less successful, with the recognition factor sometimes struggling to maintain the laughs over this lengthy routine, but their impressive singing kept us entertained nonetheless.

Audio visual elements provided interesting interludes to the sketches and songs. Quotes from song lyrics charmingly scrawled on cards introduced some topics; a cute recalling of the lo-fi roots of the original show. Pre-recorded advertisements for a certain streaming service provided giggles whilst the performers were off stage. An extended video of vox pops threatened to outstay its welcome but was saved by some brilliant ring-ins.

Newstead and O’Bryan bounced well off one another and kept the show bopping along at a breezy pace. This dynamic duo of the music scene have created a wonderful hour for music nerds and comedy fans alike.

Al & Anna’s Music Rant is on at the Tuxedo Cat until April 20