Dance Like It Never Happened

Jonny Donahoe and Paddy Gervers
Jonny and the Baptists
The Drum, Theatre Royal Plymouth

Jonny & The Baptists: Dance Like It Never Happened

Jonny and the Baptists is back with its post-COVID show Dance Like It Never Happened now "touring half empty Art Centres in Remain UK" strongholds.

Resisting the Tories urging to turn their backs on the Arts and take up a job in cyber (like poster girl ballerina Fatima)—cue ‘Jonny and the Baptists’ Detective Agency’ resplendent with images of running slowly making siren sounds—the satirical political musicians are on form with a fun 70-minute romp through numerous new and old songs interspersed with commentary by Jonny Donahoe on his 11½ month battle with coronavirus and long COVID, and the podcasts Making Paddy Happy to help Paddy Gervers with depression.

With three CDs under their belt, the latest featuring Jamie Cullum’s band (within budget due to lockdown desperation although Jamie was nowhere to be seen), the charismatic duo entertains with pieces from its (very) long-form Christian allegory such as "Isaac" (tied up on a mountain top waiting for his father to kill him), "Eden" (where Adam’s indiscretion, despite specific rules set down in the induction, with a snake bearing fruit is blamed on the wife) and the miracle-seekers—an underprepared Noah, bemused leader Moses, David and more—gifted frogs as God's answer to all their woes in "Little Green Miracles".

Then there is "Cocaine Gran", banned from Boggle to be shot down in a hail of bullets and an explosion of white powder; Royal black pudding on sale in "Grift"; trouserless "Digging a Hole" by hand and "We Don’t Know Nothing ‘Bout Denial". All very silly, very clever and musically-sound… and apparently metaphors abound and subtext proliferates.

Alongside other album tracks in this veritable fever dream, there are pithy ‘headlines’—funny rewrites of the first few lines / chorus of well-known songs—and plenty of interplay and asides.

These guys are good musicians with great voices, that twinkle of thoroughly enjoying themselves, great timing and much to say.

Reviewer: Karen Bussell