Peter Kay Live At The Manchester Arena

That Peter Kay gets everywhere these days. Whether he's selling beer
on TV or topping the charts for Comic Relief, it seems he's here to stay.
His new DVD, Peter Kay Live At The Manchester Arena, presents the
final show of his 2003 tour, and to ardent fans, his routine might just
seem a little familiar. After all, his previous DVD, Live At The Bolton
Albert Hall
, offered us an earlier version of what is essentially the
same show. However, after a year in which he's brought the little known
Texan city of Amarillo to national attention, this latest attempt to cash
in on his burgeoning fame comes as no great surprise.

It's just as well, then, that this new DVD shows a comedian at the height
of his powers, constructing a routine that, even on repeated viewing, consistently
hits the spot. Kay has his audience in raptures throughout, and demonstrates
just why he's been so widely embraced by an adoring public. His strength
lies in his astonishingly acute observations of domestic life; shots of
the audience reveal the joyful recognition in their faces as Kay
drops in another anicdote about dipping biscuits in his tea, while some
amusing imitations of doddery relatives showcase his impressive talent for
mimicry - something that will come as no surprise to fans of Phoenix

Kay is an incredibly physical performer, and his re-staging of a
wedding reception whips the crowd into hysterics. The now-infamous ‘walking-to-the-dance-
floor' dance and his hilarious impersonation of an incoherent wedding DJ
provide the show's biggest laughs. The routine derives its humour from tales
of Kay's specifically northern upbringing, and occasionally some
viewers may find themselves a little lost; for example, a large section
of the show relies heavily on a working knowledge of the now-defunct quiz
show ‘Bullseye‘. Still, the Manchester audience laps up every word, and
as the chubby lad from Bolton leads them in a helium-fuelled chorus of ‘Danny
Boy' at the show's climax, the extraordinary sense of adulation is palpable.

The DVD extras on offer are, unsurprisingly, heavily geared towards plugging
the enormously successful charity single ‘ Is This The Way To Amarillo?';
while many may well have heard quite enough of Tony Christie's crooning,
the sight of Ronnie Corbett's notorious tumble while recording the video
can't help but raise a smile. Still, the overly-long tour documentary makes
for less engaging viewing. One can't help but feel that the release of Live
At The Manchester Arena
has the whiff of opportunism about it; the show
is two years old, after all. Still, if Peter Kay continues to produce
comedy of this calibre, I suspect we'll forgive him for that.