John Shuttleworth @ Sheffield City Hall
Well, you learn something everyday. Before he established himself as Sheffield’s most versatile, roll-neck sweater wearing, singer-songwriter, John Shuttleworth was punk singer, Jilted John. Who knew? Well, in actual fact, everyone in the City Hall knew, and tonight, as part of the final show on John Shuttleworth’s farewell tour, he revived the character for a one-off performance of his one big hit and a few more obscure but equally fine songs. Suddenly it was 1978 again. He’s promising to do a tour for his 40th anniversary, so be warned. It made a perfect climax to the first half, but while we may have briefly forgotten who we were here to see, this was always going to be John Shuttleworth’s night. It’s been a good few years now since Graham Fellows created the character, and now, as he said in our recent exclusive interview, it’s time for John to retire -he’s finally reached the age his character is meant to be. Thankfully, before he disappears, he’s prepared to share with us his final thoughts and a few songs to help us deal with the loss. The theme of the final tour, under the banner of Last Will and Tasty Mint, is that it’s a dangerous world for celebrities these days, as 2016 saw the death of some major entertainment figures. It’s alright for us, he tells us, we’re ordinary members of the public, so we’re protected, but if he doesn’t retire soon, he thinks he might well be putting himself at risk. The evening progressed with anecdotes, stories, songs and a phone call or two to incorporate the supporting cast of characters from his unique style of radio-show. It’s the only way to include his other creations; manager Ken, wife Mary, or daughter Karen, as Graham plays all of them. For me, that’s the unsung genius of Graham Fellows. We love the songs and stories, and we laugh at the comedy, but the creation of convincing dialogue between very real characters, all of which are him, is unique. He’ll be missed – especially if I see a Pigeon In Flight, or accidentally have Two Margarines On The Go.