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Mr B - The Gentleman Rhymer

Chap-hop, straight out of Surrey
The Bullingdon, 162 Cowley Road, Oxford OX4 1UE, Fri 17 February 2017

February 21, 2017
Mr. B: a chap-hop fop

What struck me most about Mr. B the Gentleman Rhymer was his crowd; many were dapper and mustachioed, vanilla Steampunk. I felt out of place. As if I'd accidentally found myself in an Evanescence concert, or stumbled into a Comic-Con. People love this guy, I mean, really love him. They dress like him and chant with him and I literally even saw someone moshing to him. This was not the usual ironic musical comedy crowd. You don't get people moshing to Bill Bailey, well except sometimes Bill Bailey.

The two support acts and the main event were all very similar, somewhat impressive given the specific quality of Mr. B's sound. The first, Song and Supper Rooms, sang a selection of songs on such themes as paintbrushes, chimneys and everybody's favourite ancient First Lady Messalina. It was difficult to work out if they were supposed to be funny. Weirdly, for a band covering such broad topics, their music became strangely repetitive. The second act was my favourite. Captain Kuppa T & the Zeppelin Crew (good God this genre places a lot of emphasis on tea!) started with a really beautifully harmonised version of 'Mr Sandman'. Certainly a high level of musical talent added to the entertainment level - all three performers were characterful and very entertaining. The Great British Bake Off-themed 'Fruitcake', based on Kelis's 'Milkshake', was a highpoint of the act, along with a cover of that awful Robin Thicke song, re-titled 'Good Brew' about, you guessed it, tea.

Finally onto the quintessentially English Mr. B, playing his niche invention 'chap-hop' on perhaps the world's only existing 'banjolele'. Sampling a medley of hip hop classics including The Sugarhill Gang, Eminem, Run DMC and De La Soul, overlaid with some very talented banjolele work and lyrics covering chivalry, tweed and pipe smoking, Mr. B cleverly performs his own cohesive musical genre. He started with a song called 'All Hail the Chap', which helpfully (to those not versed in this niche genre) detailed the Ten Commandments for all self-respecting gentlemen. 'Chap-Hop History' managed to distil thirty years of rap music into five minutes.

For about an hour I enjoyed myself. But then I discovered that Mr. B is George Osborne's favourite musical act. And I found myself standing in a chanting crowd with this unwanted knowledge wondering, is Oxford too posh to get the irony?

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