My first encounter with the Axis of Awesome was when my partner took me to see them at a sell-out Fringe show a few years back. I suspect most people encounter the Axis on YouTube, though. Each year I look forward to the chance to see the band – or Benny’s solo show – and it is clear that the Australians love to perform too.
There could be some tension between the audience wanting to see live versions of old YouTube hits from a few years back and the musicians wanting to perform their latest songs. This is a tension that the Axis acknowledge, joke about and solve. This show has elements from their last trip to Edinburgh, popular internet hits and some new material.
Classic Axis of Awesome for my trip to the Gilded Balloon this year included a few from their 2011 album Animal Vehicle; How to Write a Love Song and Skeleton Man. There’s an updated version of Four Chords too – hard to imagine them not playing the song – but very pleased they alter it. The song proves that today’s pop music uses the same four chords, so updating it makes the point, reminds us how talented the AoA are and keeps it fresh.
The name of the show is a mashup. Viva La Vida Loca Las Vegas is composed of three different song names. Are they impossible songs to blend together? I would have thought so but the Axis prove me wrong.
This isn’t just a music gig. This is a comedy.
Expect lots of jokes about Benny’s height and for diminutive but very talented composer to win the audience over each time. We even got a tiny peek into his Human Jukebox show as the audience were invited to challenge him to recreate songs from suggestions.
Also expect lots of swearing. The Axis of Awesome are not shrinking violets they’re loud and forthright. This is a show that couldn’t be aired on any BBC channel at any time of late. That’s just about perfect.
Viva La Vida Loca Las Vegas is another success for the trio. Their on-stage antics had me laughing out loud, the music had me bopping in my seat and their insights on life were sagely true.
Even the venue was improved. Hanging from the ceiling of the Debating Chamber at the Gilded Balloon this year are some curvy white sheets in interesting patterns. Art? Perhaps – but I suspect they also help improve the acoustics of the hall.
Overall? I’m glad I braved the long queue in the drizzle. I’m glad I was squashed in between tightly packed rows of seats. 2014 is another rock star year for the Axis of Awesome.