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Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Mark Steel Live at the Trades

Mark Steel's in TownMark Steel won a Sony Gold award for his ‘In Town’ series where he mocks the foibles of British towns so Hebden Bridge with all its quirks seemed the perfect place for him to visit.

It was a sell out so clearly local folk were game for some mickey taking which Mark duly delivered after he had spent most of the day wandering round town taking pictures.

Although his research was a bit iffy as for some reason he thought the Trades was a ‘working men’s club’ and kept putting on a faux Yarkshire accent when, as everyone knows, anyone actually born in the town left town years ago.

The first half of a marathon set was Steel at his fluent best as he raged against being past 50 which went down well with the more – ahem – mature audience, and why it is good to be angry about offshore call centres and pointless technology.

He also issued a call to arms to defend our town from Tesco who he accused of coming out from the cracks in the floor when you least expect it and he had clearly fell in love with the independent shops.

When he came back after the break he ran into a storm as the audience had clearly been stewing over his ‘working men’s club’ jibe and when he next used it, the heckles rang out: ‘It’s a Socialist club, Mark’. It clearly threw him, but was a classic Hebden moment when a surgical strike from the audience hits home.

He recovered his equilibrium flashing up a photo of the bizarre array of ‘alternative’ therapies on the noticeboard outside Earth Spirit, and was nonplussed as the rest of us at what they actually meant.

He also had the good fortune to sit next to some hippy throwback in a café who was moaning to her mate that she focused on her ‘empathy paths often to detriment of myself.’ The laugh was both loud and knowing.

Mark Steel only had a few hours to get a grip on our town but he used his vast experience, and keen eye for what makes a place individual, to overcome a few misfires, just about winning over a factious audience.

Thanks to Paul Clarke for this review