ZANG TUMMM TUMB ARTICLES “the first draft of history”


London Ambassadors

PAUL MORLEY and Friends in a modest residency on the West End stage. A civilised setting for a pleasant programme of light entertainment. As was the time my Dad took me to see Billy Smarts circus. The cracking whip and ringmaster baying ‘Welcome, Jasmine Smart And Her Liberty Horses left white weals on a infant memory. Years on, when Instinct were unveiled, the spectres of Jasmine and Horses flickered in their wake …

The winsome young woman up-front commenced tonsil rattling and revealed that the long-playing works of Alicia Bridges have changed more than one gals life. And the Liberty Horses? Heavy dancefloor bass and some kind of heavy coconut shell action (Hark! The Liberty Hooves!) a display of that funky-muso squatting jig, that leaves you pondering the influence of prenatal exercise classes. Instinct are a young and classy improvement on a Butlins cabaret night.

After the equivalent of five-ish songs, we get The Funny Ringmaster. Chris Langham gags about sausages, vibrators and those less fortunate than himself (basically sausages and vibrators). All delivered in an alternative way, making us, like, confront our own embarrassment.

Next, the man who spins plates on poles and juggles with his first-born and a flaming brand … Andrew Poppy. New composer. The spirit of Jean Michel Jarre — or is it Mike Oldfield — hovers over the ‘inspirational piano cycles and cantankerous brass noises. The pieces dynamic start and finish conjured up the recent live line-up of Durutti Column and unhappily the memory of Focus shook a gory lock when the male/female soprano backing lunged in a-warblin. Next!

The dancers who carried the standard for the Art Of Noise were plainly inspired by that man who danced round Howard Jones during the video for his first single. Two dames and one male equivalent, in snagged black tights and ripped ZTT T-shirts danced a ‘contemporary dash rather badly.

The clown appeared, happy in the knowledge that hes in the best position to enjoy the joke since he supplies it. It was Morley. Bless him. He strolled on singing ‘What Kind Of Fool Am I? and, with the air of one accepting an academy award, gave us a ‘We Did It Our Way patter. He looked pleased. He shouldve done. Hed just drunk the bar dry of its three-can stock.

At ten ‘o clock (or dix heures, reportedly the French term for ‘easy listening) we witnessed the woman with her head in the lions mouth.

The audience had begun to pull Anne Pigalle to pieces before she appeared. Dishevelled, nervy, with a touch of self-parody, her voce hesitant, shes certainly no slick Piaf copy — yet. As her voice was broken in, that all important sultry croak became apparent and she hinted at high camp things to come with a Dietrich rendition of Sombre Dimanche (‘Gloomy Sunday to you, cupcake). Anne Pigalle may meet the same fate that Carmel did last year … if she isnt careful.

And finally the acrobats. Propaganda. Too majestic to be tumblers, not distinguished enough to make trapeze artists, they stand, white-lit in a tubular jungle of climbing frame affairs. Claudia, clad in operating theatre garb, peering through the frame; Suzanne starkly contrasted in a brief black sheath-thing, new hope for the Duran Duran market. Jolly likeable.

So there we had it. The ZTT circus. Most enjoyable. If youre wondering what happened to all the sawdust, you should be told that theyve been feeding it to you. Didnt you notice?

Cath Carroll