Bounder & Cad performed at Live At Zédel, London.
Star rating: three stars ★ ★ ★ ✩ ✩
Their names recall the era of Rider Haggard, picturesque piano pieces by Billy Mayerl and bakelite lamps, but in reality this savvy pair of Cambridge-educated gentlemen [Guy Hayward and Adam Drew] are very much of our own time, poking fun at a world familiar to them, and indeed to their audience.
Drew, with the fair hair, is their lyricist and composer, fitting out old songs with new lyrics and contributing original material too.
The first half of the evening brings a smile to the face, the second some hearty laughter as the duo’s humour takes on a more ribald stance with ‘Downt’n’Dirty’. It’s a clever duet, where the innuendo, raising an eyebrow or two, is all.
‘Me and My Shadow’ introduces another of their taboo subjects – politics – satirising the coalition of Cameron and Clegg and their “so well hung parliament”.
This is rendered in the style of a Rat Pack number, but it requires greater clarity and precision to make a full impact.
Their evident affection for Paul (Hollywood) and Mary (Berry), and theirs for each other, gave the flour/flower duet an added appeal.
A warmth for two political opposites is manifest too in their final very funny song sketch, ‘Greece Frightenin’, where Angela Merkel takes on Alexis Tsipras. Their humour has edge but no malice.
Updating Porter’s ‘Let’s Do It’, is a hard act to follow after Noel Coward’s immaculate take on it. This one seems a trifle contrived, but the pair hits all the right buttons with another golden oldie – ‘The Lady is a Tramp’ – satirising yummy mummies and canny grannies.
Peculiarly English obsessions up for grabs are picnics in whatever weather to the tune of ‘Teddy Bears’ Picnic’; Wimbledon fortnight; and a ‘homage to fromage’ (‘Crackers for Cheese’ – “I’m mental for Emmental”).
These are all imbued with Drew’s deft rhyming skills and the team’s ability at turning a quizzical eye on our topsy-turvy world.
It is a nice touch to have the duet ‘We Bound Around’ from Legrand’s Les Demoiselles de Rochefort and it would be nicer still to hear it as ‘Nous Voyageons’ than in the less agile translation.
The great pleasure of the evening is the stylish piano playing of Ben Comeau, invited by Bounder & Cad to improvise on well-known tunes from audience requests. In his hands The Pink Panther theme song becomes a fugue by Bach; The Dam Busters march a florid Chopin Etude.
The camaraderie between Bounder, Cad and Comeau was underlined when a punter threw out a request for a reggae number that temporarily flawed our gifted pianist on account of “his sheltered upbringing as an organ scholar!”
These two artists are a pleasure to watch and their singing is polished and easy on the ear. They don’t yet have the complete professional control of their forebears, Flanders and Swann, but they are on their way.
* Bounder & Cad return to Live At Zédel on 27 April, 22 June and 24 July.
Readers may also be interested in:
Bounding around – Interview with comedy duo Bounder & Cad