Beardyman @ Roxx, Southampton – 22nd November

Hopping onstage, the disappointingly clean-shaven Darren Foreman – better known as Beardyman – is met by a demanding chant of “where’s your beard?” amongst the awesome cheer from the raucous punters before him. “Who here likes music?” he replies to an overwhelming response, before showing off snippets of his beat-making mastery on his famed Beardytron 5000 MKII.

Glitchy beats transition seamlessly into barbershop quartet layered harmonies that twist and turn until they end up as downright filthy drops, much to the rambunctious crowd’s delight. “Who’s on ketamine?” the non-bearded Foreman asks to an unsurprisingly loud response. One overly-excited (and most likely out-of-mind) individual climbs up onstage and enjoys three seconds of attention before being handled by the no-nonsense security and subsequently thrown out of the venue. Charmingly, Beardyman dedicates his next rap to the adventurous chap – a sign of recognising his honour that the crowd clearly appreciates.

Throughout his set, Beardyman makes sure to never lose the attention of the room, constantly switching musical directions and allowing a welcome sense of interaction; evidenced best in his improvised meanderings in which he encourages everybody to ‘say my anus’ and ‘everybody get naked’. Somewhat disgruntled with the response – the only gig-goers to actually remove an item of clothing are two proud, arm-in-arm lads – Beardyman promises that he too will strip if more oblige. Unfortunately no more nudity ensues however Foreman makes sure to leave the stage on a sexual note with a loop of thumping noises (and voice grunting “Take it, you little worm”) that he feels would be similar to the sounds of a rough love-making session between himself and ancillary soundmaker Pete.

Returning seconds later for an encore, Beardyman then treats the packed floor to a no-nonsense onslaught of his incredible raw talent. Now stripped of his Beardytron machine, Foreman proceeds to stun all in attendance with a barrage of purely acapella beat-boxing. “I’m going to do something now that was taught to me by Princess Margaret when she was fellating a dog” he graciously announces before blasting out such classics as ‘Popcorn’ and Prince’s ‘Kiss’ without missing half a beat. While most in the room perhaps doubt that Beardyman actually learned what he knows from a positively deranged Princess Marge, there is no doubt that however he did, his is a talent to behold.

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Words by James Barlow

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