Amelia Whelan/ Creative Commons

It’s a good thing Tim Minchin wears a headband, because without it his cranium would surely succumb to the pressure exerted by his massive ego and self-awareness and then explode. That still wouldn’t compare to the destruction caused by his lightning-quick fingers after they beat the Christopher Cohan Performing Arts Center’s (PAC) beautiful grand piano to a pulp.

The facade of brutality in both music and wit thinly veiled a tenderly honest and exquisitely talented personality Wednesday night. Minchin, accompanied by a malfunctioning fog machine and a glass of wine, took a personal approach to exposing modern humanity’s greatest flaws, mostly as they relate to love, Jesus and “gingers.” He sang from the heart, played from the soul and pulled jokes out of his ass, and sometimes he couldn’t even catch his breath, let alone the audience.

In a nutshell what Minchin did was this: play piano, sing and condemn faulty logic.

His authenticity was palpable, as was his devotion to his message and his craft. Rarely does an artist come along who so successfully blends musical innovation with sharp lyricism. The late Frank Zappa comes to mind, with his impossibly complex compositions and social criticisms. In a similar style, Minchin passionately belted out his profane, yet profound poetry to the tunes of incredibly creative arrangements, which included the occasional blistering, several-minute solo.

Even from a vantage point way up in the balcony, he seemed so alive with his frizzy mane and bare feet. The auditorium buzzed with energy when he ranted, in song or in one-way conversation, about the absurdity of what people hold dear. It became hard to deny the difficulty of monogamy, the inapplicability of Bible verses or the prejudicial power of words when Minchin put each topic into perspective. His act was a deeply intimate forum for his moral principles, brought to life by personal anecdotes. Minchin was unafraid to divulge his own concerns and shortcomings in a way that only an insulated, affluent person could.

He’s affluent for a reason. His talent as a performer and composer landed him the job of writing music and lyrics for the critically-acclaimed “Matilda the Musical” in 2011 and for the soon-to-be-released stage musical adaptation of the movie “Groundhog Day,” from which he took his closing song on Wednesday night.

Luckily, his affluence has little effect on his self-awareness. Minchin is quite conscious of the fantastical, sometimes disgusting images he conjures with his lyrics. Beyond that, he knows that everyone else knows that his ridiculous comedic flourishes are simply vehicles for the implications of his opinions, and that his real intentions hit close to home.

Take, for example, his third-person account of his futile dreams of being a rock star in the song “Rock ‘n’ Roll Nerd.” In a smooth move of self-deprecation, he sang that he was victimized by his “happy middle-class upbringing,” and, therefore, could not find sufficient angst within himself to write songs that would help him make it big.

In the absence of significant personal strife, Minchin has instead built his career on pointing out that very fact. Many social problems in the modern world are the result of people failing to recognize their privilege and using illogical arguments to justify it. Minchin loudly recognizes his privilege as a wealthy, white, heterosexual male for the sole purpose of leaving it unjustified. That he managed to do that while jumping around excitedly and offending every possible demographic is a thing of beauty. Obscene, blasphemous beauty.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.