The Horne Section begin their show in the most unpredictable of ways, beginning with a faux sound check, where drummer Ben Reynolds is called to check the sound levels of the bass drum. Booming around the room is the mischievous voice of frontman Alex Horne, and his audience soon learns that this is no ordinary sound check. This serves as a very efficient way of introducing his extensive live band, consisting of Ben, Joe Auckland on the trumpet, Mark Brown on the saxophone, Will (or Willip) on bass and Ed Sheldrake on keyboards. Soon the band are joined by Alex as he’s carried onto the stage by four willing audience volunteers, and the madness begins.
Horne’s comic imagination fuels the folly. He dances around the stage with infectious childish glee and surprising energy, cheekily taunting and mocking his band members in order to get reactions out of them. The Horne Section provide a smorgasbord of jazz, puns and zumba. Seeing these sensible-looking, suited men doing such ridiculous things is hugely entertaining. The group are certainly not afraid of making fools of themselves. And they include their audience in a friendly, non-invasive way and this ensures a very comfortable feeling in the room.
The greatest joy of musical comedy is when the two integral elements are genuinely equally matched. These musicians are hugely talented, harmonising with each other with ease, performing with unpredictability and versatility. The show runs smoothly, as it is by now a well-oiled machine, and this is what allows the spontaneous quips and exchanges to shine brighter. Although we trust the group to lead us through the show comfortably and enjoyably, the off-script interludes are joyous because they give the show an exhilarating uncertainty.
And the Horne Section are excellent at manipulating their audience’s expectations, whether that be Alex appearing from underneath a giant top hat, or trumpeter Joe morphing into Henry Hoover. This show is full of surprises, and the group slather on the layers of ridiculousness as though they are icing a cake. There is no time to rest during this noisy, vibrant comedy extravaganza, and that’s what makes it so thrilling.