The genius of Bill Drummond: Live review from Incubate Festival

Bill Drummond
Mitte Theatre
Sept 16 2011

Bill Drummond is stood on stage and talking for an hour.

Everyone is listening intently. That is pretty amazing as he is taking us on a long strange trip that is parts thought provoking, hilarious, plain weird and always highly smart. This is art terrorism with situationist skree from the former KLF mainman who has been let loose as some sort of merry prankster in pop culture for decades since he ran Zoo Records in Liverpool.

Armed with a pile of posters and a charismatic presence Drummond free forms his way through a series of basic sketches that somehow tie together. He starts off with his uncle being the first missionary to get eaten by cannibals in Papua New Guinea and then takes in iPod culture and the endless proliferation of music before zig zagging through his 17 project which came to him whilst he was driving in his Jeep and he turned the music off and got lost in the music of the Jeep’s own engine and imagined 17 Vikings singing along with him in the back…

Somehow he took this project round the world and demonstrates what he did getting the audience to sing in harmony before veering off into a story about the death of whistling and how he became a shoe shine boy so he could whistle while he worked, the person sat next Ro me shifts uncomfortably in his seat as he had his shoes shined by Drummond on the street before he came in.

He ends the staggering journey with a resolution of sorts as he attempts to set up a project t get the tribe who ate his uncle to sing for him…if this makes no sense don’t worry, your mind is racing all the way through trying to keep up with the twists of genius and the always nagging questions that Drummond is asking in his pranks- pure situationsim. Is there too much music? Have we been droned out by popular culture? Have we stopped thinking and questioning? Do we have to wake up before we are already dead?

Not only is Bill Drummond an enthralling talker who is not only hilarious but also keeps you captivated with his esoteric twists and turns, a true artists who provokes with his every statement and his very presence he also wakes you up, jolts you into a new reality and makes you question the popular culture that you are so much part of.

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. Heya fellow 17’er!

    The theatre is actually called the (soon to be closed) Midi Theater.

    As you already wrote, the performance was both weird and captivating, and I enjoyed it, including participating in the weird two-note choir and being named part of “the 17” (except for that one guy).



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