What does it sound like?:
Mishka Shubaly, the son of a rocket scientist, had a pleasant childhood until 14th December 1992 when his school mate shot six people, killing two. That evening, young Mishka got home to discover his parents had decided to divorce. Thereafter, for many years, he was lost in a sewer of drugs, alcohol and self loathing. Now, he has been reborn as a singer, songwriter, long distance runner, author and comedian.
This live album is actually number two in the iTunes comedy chart. The songs are his ‘greatest hits’ from the last ten years, threaded together and punctuated by unflinching monologues to describe his seedy ascent to the pinnacle of living in a trailer. It requires a strong stomach but is, indeed, very funny, all of the sharpest barbs being directed at himself. It’s like observing someone lying face down in the gutter, who does not even have the luxury of seeing the stars, but is blessed with the blackest sense of humour.
Mishka performs the songs solo, just his crack-burned growl and a thrashing electric guitar, resembling Billy Bragg’s demented twin. If you are looking for subtlety and melody, you are looking in the wrong place. However, if you like intelligent story lines, laced with rapier wit, seasoned with filthy language and peppered with frequent knob gags, Never Touring Again may just be for you.
To compliment the live album, he has rereleased his studio debut from 2007, How To Make A Bad Situation Worse. His rudimentary songs are sometimes accompanied by a full band, female backing vocals or even strings. However, none of it really deflects from the unremitting misery in the lyrics and, without the monologues, the humour is lost in the mix.
It turns out, though, that Mishka really excels at the written word. He is a best selling author of Kindle Singles for good reason (Shipwrecked was his first). His considerable talent, underpinning the songs, the jokes, the writing, is storytelling, the telling of deep, dark, brutal truths. The question for the consumer is how best to digest his work. His studio albums stand more than one listen but are grim without a glimmer of fun. His stand up and his books are genuinely funny but their peak of enjoyment is the first encounter. My suspicion is that Mishka Shubaly is best experienced live in the flesh. Sadly, we’ve missed our chance. It seems he’s Never Touring Again.
What does it all *mean*?
‘Never’ never means never.
Goes well with…
A sweaty, boozed up crowd or a quiet room and a reading lamp.
Might suit people who like…
Disarmingly frank confessions. Too much information. The blackest of black humour.