Fred Armisen: Live review | The Tivoli | Tuesday 3 September 2019

Fred Armisen’s musical talents and sensibility give him a unique perspective and combination not often seen in comedy. Armisen effortlessly transitioned between his musical instruments, guitar, the drums, even conga, throughout his set. Anyone familiar with his work in Saturday Night Love and Portlandia would be pleased with what he delivered on his debut Brisbane appearance. Armisen was able to create an open and intimate setting. He frequently invited the crowd for any suggestions. It is in these moments that he exemplifies his much celebrated improvisation specialties.

Armisen began the night by commenting on the musical compositions of instructional videos. His musical knowledge captures the nuances and observations that are often overlooked by ordinary listeners. He then continues by playfully commenting on the narcissism of classical composers. Composers makes 10 minutes “just because they can”, and yet “we never know what the melody is.”

Armisen was most impressive when he gave a brief punk history on the drums; and much to the delight of the crowd, he even mentioned Australian bands such as The Saint and Tame Impala.

Armisen also brilliantly showed off his accent impersonation skills. He took an ‘accent’ road trip of America, beginning from the Northern parts of the country to the Southern region. He invited more suggestions from the crowd. One person shouts ‘Chile’, and he quickly respond with a very funny Latin accents, speaking rapid Spanish, and quickly taking another ‘accent’ road trip of South America. He impersonates Venezuelan, Mexican and even Argentina. When an Indian lady yelled out, ‘India’, he respectfully declined. He did not want to imitate a caricature of what he often hears of Indian impersonation. He said, “I want to be able to do it right. I want to be able to do the different regions of India.” Everyone applauded his sincerity.

A personal favourite of the show was when Fred played his ‘Catalina Breeze’, he loops himself while playing the guitar before finishing the song on the drums. Armisen ended the night with an intentional out-of-tune Blackbird cover. With that, everyone gave him a warm reception, hoping for another return in the near future.




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