By Joel Kalkopf
13th December 2022

'Tim Minchin: Back' opens with a modest blue light, soaking the stage with a grand piano and microphone at the ready. It reminds us that, through all of Minchin's superstardom, fame and fortune, this is how it all began, and we as an audience will be privy to this paragon of musical comedy.

Filmed live at London's O2 in Shepherd's Bush, Minchin (2018's 'Robin Hood', 'Rock n Roll Nerd') describes his comeback show as full of "old songs, new songs, and fuck you songs", which is exactly what we get. The first song on the setlist is 'If This Plane Goes Down', which perfectly brings together exactly what makes Minchin such an icon, marrying genuine musical talent with expertly crafted lyrics that are sure to make you laugh.

If this plane goes down
Remember me as someone who cared
Often, but not always, about his hair
Self-righteous when shit wasn't fair


Fans of Minchin know all too well what to expect in one of his shows, and this is hardly his first live performance special to make its way to the big screen (or more accurately, to home entertainment). Nonetheless, this should by no means be a deterrent. His hair flows, his shoes are off, his eyes are covered in mascara, his fingers dance along the keys and he laughs along with the audience when he knows something is funny. These are the known recipes we've seen from Minchin time and again since day one, and their ever presence is welcomed, not laborious.

'Mitsubishi Colt', 'F Sharp', 'If I Didn't Have You' and the 10-minute rock opera that is 'Cheese'. Some of these will be very familiar to fans, and for any newcomers to the Minchin phenomenon, you may not get songs from 'Matilda the Musical' or 'Groundhog Day', but you will revel in the joy of seeing musical comedy as its very best, with a supporting band that only adds to the flavour.

His hair flows, his shoes are off, his eyes are covered in mascara, his fingers dance along the keys and he laughs along with the audience when he knows something is funny.

Minchin opens the second act with an Anne Frank gag, and there are very few who can not only get away with this, but somehow segue it into 'Leaving LA', yet another technically impressive song from the catalogue. It displays the brazen confidence that has kept Minchin on top of the musical comedy game - a game that, let's be honest, can get tiresome very quickly in lesser hands.

Putting all the genius aside, I really dislike the forced and expected encore, which in this instance happens twice. As a message for all the artists reading this: just stay on stage a bit longer. We don't need to play the game of applauding, then coming back, and heading to the stage again. It's just annoying.

It's hardly a downside, especially as 'Back' is very tightly edited, with each band member getting some decent screen time, and the director usually appropriately choosing when to go wide or up close. Furthermore, the encore performance of 'White Wine in The Sun' is truly remarkable in a way that displays pure talent with both keys and pen.

Minchin laments and sums up his life as someone who "talks too much and stays too long". While 'Back' is a long show for one man and a piano, this is not just any man - this is Tim Minchin. He certainly at no point feels like he is overstaying his welcome, with his spiels and shticks in between songs keeping things fresh and lively. Above all else, his music is brilliant. At first the tunes make you take notice, then you appreciate the craft, and then finally ask for more. Minchin is back, and we couldn't be happier.

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