Review: Russell Brand
Comedian proves a classy, philosophical pervert at the Paramount
By Russ Espinoza, 12:30PM, Sat. Sep. 28
The lofty, crackpot title of Russell Brand’s sweeping world-tour, “Messiah Complex,” gave off a mysterious allure. The spastic, excitable enormity of the 38-year-old provocateur’s outlandish persona could already run circles around sedentary intellects, so a rush of high-minded hyperactivity seemed a rabbit-hole worth tumbling into.
Four placards bearing images of different revolutionaries bookended the Paramount Theatre stage on Thursday night. Dead-center and on-high – in all its faux-reverential glory – hung artist Shepard Fairey’s rendering of Brand himself: sporting a necklace charmed with a cross, an Islamic crescent moon, a Hindu om, a star of David, a swastika, and McDonald’s golden arches. For additional messianic resonance, Fairey is renowned for designing Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign poster, “Hope.”
Clad in his customary garb of vacuum-sealed jeans, boots to make a metrosexual weep, and a sleeveless, black shirt vined with a network of low-hanging necklaces, Brand sashayed on stage to dispense opening pleasantries before roaming the aisles like a predator gone window-shopping. Good-naturedly as ever, he suggestively wagged his crotch in the face of a 16-year-old boy and inquired of him the date, time, and place he’ll be once officially legal. All in good fun; and an immediate affirmation that not even a lengthy philosophical dissertation can cage his rakish, prolific sexuality.
But the crux of the performance was more than skin-deep. The ensuing philosophical, historical, and cultural dissection was one very famous man’s ostensibly hard-earned (and of course, comic) take: performed with a charming, erudite schizophrenia you won’t find in the philosophy department at Oxford or, say, the Middle East. Brand’s scheduled shows in Abu Dhabi and Lebanon had to be canceled because his “security could not be guaranteed.”
“I’m talking about Malcolm X, Che Guevara, Ghandi, and Jesus Christ; and how these figures are significant culturally, and how icons are appropriated and used to designate consciousness and meaning, particularly posthumously,” Brand recently told MSNBC. “They’re all people that died for a cause; they’re all people whose icons are used to designate meaning, perhaps not in the manner in which they intended.”
It was the mostly cogent, Maserati-fast ramblings of a raving, funny, and thoughtful eccentric. Formerly a fast-living, substance-abusing Lothario, the clean and clear-headed Lothario of present day won’t slow down for anyone – drugs bobsledding through his veins or no. Brand’s razor-sharp wit, active mind, and verbal deftness make him a one-of-a-kind personality in our bloated celebrity pantheon. He certainly engendered many good feelings afterward by remaining onstage to take pictures with fans and sign autographs.
A classy pervert, indeed.
So does Russell Brand have a messiah complex? To answer a question with a question: Does he, or does he not, sleep with pop stars?