A few years ago Peter Kay got a lot of stick when he released the DVD, Live At The Manchester Arena. The problem was that it was taken from the same tour as the Live At The Bolton Albert Halls release, and so while still hilarious, much of the routine was exactly the same as what his fans had seen before. He seems to have realised that perhaps that wasn’t the greatest of ideas, as while Live And Back On Nights is about the same tour as The Tour That Doesn’t Tour Tour DVD, it goes out of its way to offer something different (although the cover does still make it look like a completely new show).
Rather than a straight stand-up set, this documentary follows Kay right throughout his record breaking tour, which initially was just going to play the Manchester Arena but then went around the country, playing to more people than any other stand-up tour in history. There is still a huge amount of comedy, and while a few bits and pieces are familiar from the previous disc, it’s mainly stuff that either changed over the course of the very long tour (it was 18 months from beginning to end) or his banter with the audience. As you’d expect from the beloved Bolton boy, a lot of it is hilarious, such as the surprise of one audience member to discover he wears makeup on stage, to Peter ending up in the audience sorting out a mix up over seating. In total there’s about 55 minutes of new stand-up.
The on-stage action is interspersed with behind-the-scenes info, with the camera following what went on backstage. It’s not too in depth about the mechanics of the tour or indeed how it developed from something that wasn’t supposed to leave Manchester but which ended up going up and down the country. Instead it focuses on Peter, such as his nerves before performances, the promotion he did for the likes of local North West TV and on Jonathan Ross’ talk show and his thoughts about life on the road.
It’s pretty interesting, with nuggets such as his hatred of hanging around backstage. As a result he only gets to the venue when he absolutely has to. It may make the stage manager tear his hair out (and as we see that Kay sometimes literally has to run to the stage) but it allows him to have a normal day, get to the arena, put on some quick make-up and then go straight on stage, before the nerves can really build and he starts to worry about whether his muse will be there that night. There’s also plenty of humour in these sections, the best bit being Kay and his friend watching the Royal Wedding with a balloon-head Prince Phillip sat between them.
However it’s on stage that Kay really shines and he genuinely seems to be enjoying himself. Indeed by the end he seems sad it’s coming to an end, simply because he’s going to miss the material he’s been working on and honing for years, and which he’ll never get to perform again.
Fans will almost certainly enjoy it and unlike Live At The Manchester Arena they aren’t like to feel short-changed, as it’s more than different enough to justify its existence. And as you’d hope, there are plenty of laughs along the way.
Overall Verdict: That Kay is a funny man is a given, and while this release may be based on the same tour as the previous DVD release, its concentration on what goes on behind-the-scenes, as well as the audience interaction ensures this feels fresh and has plenty of laughs.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac