Kevin Bridges: The Overdue Catch-Up, Hydro, Glasgow ****
There's a fair bit of housekeeping at the start of Kevin Bridges' new show, his first in four years. With wry humour, he addresses the fights that have marred previous nights of this run, but also the ludicrous controversy stirred up by sections of the media about his reaction to the death of the Queen. Anyone with half a brain or not acting in bad faith can discern that the Glaswegian comic's widely reported line, that she “won't be the only old woman to die this winter”, wasn't a crack at the monarch. A reference to her passing, sure, but clearly targeting the government. A silver lining to the subsequent online stramash though, is that it fits neatly into some of The Overdue Catch-Up's recurring themes, namely the perniciousness of social media and Bridges' struggles with his mental health more generally.
With as little overt acknowledgment and grandstanding as is possible for a big name comic on an arena tour, Bridges tackles this subject with nuance and that everyperson relatability that's characterised his stand-up career from its inception. He's helped by the fact that the coronavirus pandemic obviously plays into it too, while affording ripe opportunities for nostalgia, always a strong suit of his, and topicality, with hard-partying Boris Johnson barely out of the out hot seat. Loads of comics have got lockdown material, but Bridges' observations are punchier and more finely-honed than most.
Elsewhere, on his fluctuating weight, the nocturnal restlessness of his brain and the class friction he encounters now that he's part of the West End middle-classes he continues to mock for their pretension, the 35-year-old gets personal. He's open and honest as he lays out his insecurities since becoming a married father-of-one, with even his beloved dog a potential target of social media trolls. Atypically, his vulnerability extends to him questioning whether the crowd are onboard with one passage defending the youth of today, and his encore was perfunctory and a little fumbled. In the main though, Bridges' familiar bullish assurance, that total command of his stage, was abundantly evident throughout.
Kevin Bridges: The Overdue Catch-Up is at the Hydro, Glasgow, until 25 September, then at P&J Live, Aberdeen, from 29 September until 2 October, see www.kevinbridges.co.uk