“This show’s been amazing so far.”
That was Jermaine Clement’s semi-sarcastic conclusion exactly one song into Saturday evening’s Flight of the Conchords concert at the Michigan Theater, and remained fairly accurate for the rest of the night. Perhaps “amazing” is a touch generous, as Clement and partner Bret McKenzie had high expectations to live up to thanks to the success of their HBO show – expectations that were probably impossible to live up to. But the fact remains: Flight of the Conchords is in the midst of a hot streak and Saturday’s audience was lucky to be on the receiving end.
Considering that on the show the duo has about one fan, it was amusing to see them take the stage in real life to thunderous applause. But jumping immediately into a poised performance of “The Distant Future,” the two proved themselves right at home under the bright lights, breathing more life into the song than what the two-dimensional world of television would ever allow. Their apt comedy soon followed in between-song banter, or, as they called it, “professional talking,” and they made it work using both clearly rehearsed bits – typically ridiculous stuff like explaining why whales can’t dial 911 – and their own knack for improv.
Playing for nearly two hours, they primarily showcased songs from their TV show and current release Flight of the Conchords, while also premiering new songs. And though the new numbers went over well, especially one in which Bret McKenzie climbed into the audience for a hilariously conceited keytar solo that wouldn’t be stopped even when the instrument became unplugged, it was, of course, the older tunes that won over the crowd. “Business Time,” “The Most Beautiful Girl (in the Room)” and “Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros” saw some of the loudest responses, and certain audience members seemed particularly tortured to have to wait until the encore to hear “Bowie” and “Pencils in the Wind (Sellotape),” frequently calling for them during downtime.
In fact, the acoustic nature of the show produced an environment in which shout-outs of both personal messages and song requests littered the air. While the pair regularly acknowledged screams of endearment with a running tally of who had received more, only once did they give into a request, conceding with sarcastic reluctance, “We were gonna do the awesome song, but we’ll just do this one instead.”
Best of all, perhaps, were the band’s antics, like when Bret proudly demonstrated the demo song on his keytar (George Michael’s “Last Christmas”), and then left it playing for minutes while he and Jermaine went off-stage. Returning, Jermaine soloed over the joyous synth bounce with a few licks on a mini digital horn before he and Bret settled back into their routine.
Bidding adieu with “Angels” in a second encore, Bret provided for one final moment of hilarity when he fell off the stage and took a guitar and mic with him. But he made it back up unharmed and put a fitting cap on a great show. With their ability to delight audiences in so many different ways, the boys of Fight of the Conchords are entertainers in the truest sense, as Saturday night confirmed.