Sir Henry at Rawlinson End

Sir Henry, written and performed by Vivian Stanshall, was released in 1978. It’s a mix of spoken word, comedy, poetry, and fills both sides of a vinyl LP. I instantly fell in love with beautiful wordplay, terrific one-liners, subversive imagery, and Vivian’s rich baritone delivery.

Mike Livesley must have been a fan too. So much so that he recently decided to recreate the whole thing. He learned the lot, in all its complexity, and has performed the piece on occasion to highly appreciative audiences these last few years. Thanks to T for enabling me to see Sir Henry Lives at St. Georges, Bristol in January 2012.

It’s wonderful to see Rawlinson revived in this way. Mike’s achievement is quite astonishing. The only downside is that the original is so familiar that any deviation comes across as (slightly) second best. Mike doesn’t quite match that deep baritone I mentioned earlier. Verbal clarity, however, is improved – bringing out every word in all its glory.

Here is Neil Innes introducing the show at Liverpool in October 2012. If I wanted to be overly-critical I might say that the very start is slightly unsatisfactory, but once things settle down…

For the original, get the CD from Amazon, and for Mike Livesley’s show visit Sir Henry Lives.


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