The Literary Arena is apparently the place to be for the more eager festival goers arriving on Thursday evening.
There is a brief moment of horror at the view of the crowds spilling out of the tent doors and The Horne Section looked to be off-limits but it was soon clear that most were in attendance to be insulted by the political views of Jonathan Pie and, after fighting against the tide of people leaving, we squeeze in and find a carpeted spot ready for MC Phil Ellis. Known for his Funz and Gamez ‘children’s’ gameshow, Ellis gets straight in with his usual bitter divorcee gags, finds a child to pick on and generally fumbles his way through something of a warm-up for the band waiting in the wings.
The Horne Section, now popularly renowned for their various TV appearances, immediately get going with a cosy game of audience Twister where we all get to know each other a little better. Ping-pong conducting follows, along with some more silly games with the musicians adding in a genius Baker Street saxophone improv – who knew it worked so well intertwined with The Birdie Song…
With more stand-up than actual comedic musical performances occurring, it was a little disappointing to not see more from the band, this isn’t helped by comedian Phil Wang’s lacklustre efforts as a special guest, and although The Horne Section did succeed in raising a few laughs, there were plenty leaving and a general feeling of ‘could have done better’ as a first-night impression.
Still, the sun is set to shine for the duration and there’s plenty of time for redemption. Bring on the weekend.