Blue Man Group – Clyde Auditorium – 22/05/2009

Published

James Porteous

When talking to friends and colleagues about Blue Man Group, there is a vague knowledge that they exist, and that they are very well known in general, but also an odd confusion over what they actually get up to on stage. Admittedly, the name does give a clue to their appearance, but they still attract a strange sense of mystery for such a massive live act.

Housed in the SECC’s Clyde Auditorium, the Glasgow stop of the ‘How to be a Megastar’ tour is best described as a huge piece of performance art. The show is based around the premise of an infomercial-purchased DVD guiding the three Blue Men through the process of becoming rock stars, with the audience being dragged along for the ride. While it might sound corny, the narrative is carried off flawlessly, and actually helps to break up show, keeping it from simply becoming a great big gig.

What surprises the most is that the Blue Men are frequently a small part of a much bigger band on stage – the ten or so backing musicians accompany the famous percussion stylings on most tracks, and add serious depth to the pipe-playing, piano-smashing shennanigans of the group’s frontmen. The overriding impression is that of a small rock orchestra, playing incredibly complex, catchy music – a far cry from the pre-conceptions that watching the Men’s appearance on old Intel adverts would give you – some of their covers of famous tracks is especially impressive.

The only criticism of the show stems from the venue and the audience themselves. The bizarre layout of the Clyde Auditorium divides the crowd in two, and makes the number of people watching seem tiny, failing to capture the enthusiasm of the performers at all well – this show seems like it would work remarkably well with the audience standing, and to have everyone sitting on a flat floor felt like it was sucking the life out of the evening. At times, it felt like those on stage were going to have to physically drag everyone from their seats (not an entirely unfeasible option, given the energy of the show).

Of course, it is the Blue Men that are the undoubtedly stars of the evening – their performance of mute intrigue in the world around them (and their apparent ambition to become rock stars) draws the crowd in, and when combined with some exceptionally clever physical comedy and circus-style set pieces, it’s clear that they are much more than simply a trio of painted percussionists.