Marc Rebillet Brings His Impromptu Improvisation to Leeds, 28.01.19

Marc Rebillet brings his improvised live show to Belgrave Music Hall & Canteen on a freezing January evening and has the sold-out crowd warmed up without a moment’s hesitation. His increasingly popular brand of beat-driven comedy is one perfectly suited to today’s social media zeitgeist; endlessly watchable and eminently shareable, this is music at its most meme-worthy.  

Highlights of the evening – all of which are entirely improvised and often inspired by jeers from members of the audience – include tracks about driving tests, prostate exams and going to bed with “The Lord”. The magic of the show lies in this spontaneity, with Rebillet and the crowd bouncing off each other comfortably for the full ninety minutes. 

As a debauched version of comic Bill Bailey’s performances, the night sometimes bears more similarities to a stand-up show than a traditional gig – that is, until Rebillet’s ridiculously funky beats kick in and remind the crowd that they came here to dance.

That such beats are conjured up on the fly highlights Rebillet’s astonishing dexterity on his setup. The ease with which he plucks his melodies out of thin air, harmonises with loops of his own voice, and drops all this on top of several layers of intricate percussion prompts audible cries of disbelief throughout the evening.

If there is one critique to be made of this show, it is that its greatest strength is also its greatest weakness: the reality of improv is that sometimes the song ideas are great, but sometimes they aren’t. It comes with the territory of spontaneous performance that occasionally the audience is left waiting patiently for the next great idea. After tonight, though, this Leeds crowd will be waiting not-so-patiently for the next time Marc Rebillet rolls into town.

Tom Paul

Header Image Credit: RVA Mag