Review | Tim Minchin – BACK


“I hope he doesn’t sing White Wine in the Sun”, I muttered in the car on the way to Oxford, “it makes me cry… not sad tears though…”

Tim Minchin has this unique ability to get right under my skin in all the best ways – whether that’s making me laugh with the likes of the classics (If I Didn’t Have You, Dark Side), making me fist pump the air with the critical religious numbers (The Good Book, The Pope Song) or prompting some self-reflection (Not Perfect, The Fence).

From the first time a mate played me Inflatable You (off an iPod Nano in The Bristol Pear in Selly Oak… ah, student days…) I’ve been hooked. Hubs and I had the chance to see Ready For This? live at the Symphony Hall in Birmingham in 2009 and he blew us away – with White Wine in the Sun leaving me a bit of a blubbering wreck.

Fast forward 10 years almost exactly (oh God…) and the prospect of seeing him sing the Christmas song live again since becoming a Mom was a bit of a worrying thought – Oxford would just have to deal with mascara stained me for a bit if it came to it…

We booked tickets for BACK more than a year in advance – it was absolutely worth the wait. It’s been 7 years since Minchin played some of the most famous venues in the world with a full Orchestra, which we sadly never got to see live (thank God for DVDs and Netflix…), so there wasn’t a chance we were going to miss this tour.

If you’re off to see the show, and would like to be surprised, may I recommend not reading any further. I’ll give you a potted review – IT WAS AWESOME. From here on in, spoilers

Taglined “Old Songs, New Songs, Fuck You Songs“, BACK was a mix of the tunes Minchin is famous for, combining some much loved classics – and a welcome return to the playlist by F Sharp and Mitsubishi Colt – and some new numbers like Leaving LA and If This Plane Goes Down that are a departure from his more infamous comedy stylings. One number in particular, I’ll Take Lonely Tonight, felt incredibly raw and a glimpse into “Tim” rather than his stage persona, along the same lines of The Absence of You.

Kicking off with a perfectly pitched “turn your phones off” message, then a black stage with a black piano, and a slightly Tequila tipsy Tim, it’s not until a few songs in that we’re introduced to the band hiding behind the black curtain, who back up the rest of the songs, including a brilliant new arrangement of If I Didn’t Have You.

A more “grown up” show than previous tours – yes, I use that term despite it containing a 8 and a half minute rock opera about Cheese – the second act was shorter but no less intense than the first. He’s still the Tim with bare feet, crazy hair, slightly less eye-liner, but a musician who’s proved to everyone that he’s more than the man who writes songs about sex dolls and Jesus. He’s a bona fide musical man – slipping in a sneaky snippet of Heaven on their Minds from Jesus Christ Superstar (from his turn as Judas in the arena tour) and a joyous rendition of When I Grow Up from Matilda (the show he freely admits has made him “rich”).

There were a few notable absences, including Dark Side, and the show ended on a sombre note, dedicated to a recently deceased friend. It was a beautiful, if subdued finale, but absolutely in keeping with the rest of the show.

And no, he didn’t sing White Wine in the Sun, but we were treated to rousing rendition of Woody Allen Jesus, and new song, Fuck This.

BACK is touring the UK for a bit longer, but tickets are in very short supply – check with venues and Twickets rather than getting scalped by the likes of the bastards at Viagogo…