By Jacob South-Klein
One of the manifold Golden Rules of Reviewing™ (so writes a man who until now has never written a review for Quench) is to maintain a level of objectivity, as a distant observer, from the reviewed event itself. In other words, do not, accidentally end up on stage with any Hairy Bikers, in front of three-thousand fellow audience members.
The second Golden Rule of Reviewing™ is to not, at any cost, drink any beer you are offered on-stage by any Hairy Bikers, or eat their freshly-made prawn pakora – especially if the reviewer in question is (was…?) of a vegetarian disposition. Vitally, the third and final GRR™ is to absolutely avoid mentioning to the assembled Bikers, hairy or otherwise, that you are there to write a review.
Devastatingly, and in rapid succession, I managed to break every single one of these three rules on Thursday night. Dua Lipa would be furious with me.
Prior to arriving at St. David’s Hall for “An Evening with the Hairy Bikers”, I was fully aware that the Hairy Bikers were 1.) hairy, and 2.) bikers. Unbeknownst to me, however, was the sprawling cornucopia of other talents that the inseparable Si King and Dave Myers boast in their arsenal of entertainment – besides being able to cook up a storm together in the kitchen, of course. There was plenty more on display than culinary expertise, for better or worse.
Bookended by the boys’ two rousing-ish vocal renditions of Sonny & Cher’s “I Got You Babe” and Jon Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On A Prayer”, the two-hour-long variety performance kicked-off and culminated in equally bewildering fashion. Whilst I am perhaps not your stereotypical Hairy Bikers fan (i.e. not middle-aged, not a mum, and do not religiously watch The One Show), regardless, there was a tangible jarring air in the room whenever the many ham-tastic, gaudily-scripted gags and set-pieces failed to land.
King and Myers are undeniably brimming with bombast and heart, but I would have preferred it if their enthusiasm had been channelled in a less artificial, more organic and natural way – for example, the ratio split of time dedicated to showing clips lifted from the Hairy Bikers television show archive, and time dedicated to, you know, actually cooking, seemed decidedly off-kilter. National treasures as they may well be, the Hairy Bikers are celebrity chefs first and foremost, after all.
Before I bash the Bikers any more, the array of food that they did conjure up was, as to be expected, bloomin’ delicious. I was treated to a veritable spread of “beer snacks” (plus beer) before the interval, whilst a sumptuous-looking steak dish was put together post-interval. It is just a shame that only a mere 0.1% of the audience – four lucky souls out of three-thousand – were invited to taste the delicacies on offer. The remaining 99.9% of the gathered masses had to make do with the (admittedly gorgeous) whiff of the cooking, wafting around the theatre.
Lastly, whilst this is a minor qualm: before taking our seats pre-show, the audience were invited to submit questions to Si and Dave on the back of a postcard, although the questions that were answered by minutes later were suspiciously accompanied by a pristinely-scripted response, and a perfectly-suited clip from their television series. Which left a salty aftertaste on my palate, no pun intended.
Warm and affable, the church of the Hairy Bikers is a broad one, and the mass-appeal of Si King and Dave Myers is arguably unsurpassed by any of their culinary peers. With that said, after a Thursday night full of singing, dancing, and not a great deal of cooking, I left St. David’s Hall wishing they had not spread themselves quite as broadly.