Live Event: In Conversation With Bez, The Tivoli, May 19th 2023
Bez -The Man, The myth.
Bez (Mark Berry) what do I, a middle-aged woman in North Wales know about this person? NOT a lot. During the heyday years of The Happy Mondays at the Hacienda, I was in a one bed flat, flat broke, changing nappies. So, music wasn’t really that big on my list. Neither was ‘going out’.
Of course, I’d come across Happy Monday Videos on TV, and my much younger brother and sister, well they took after me, and were more into rock than pop. So, I admit, the most I know about the band and its members are a few songs, and their reputation.
Hmmm, their reputation. The drugs, the sex, the parties. Arrests, drug deals gone wrong, crap managers, court cases, drug deals gone even more wrong with machetes and guns, chocolate finger biscuits up the bum and more drugs. I can only imagine being with them in the late 80s through to the late 90s would be similar to a non-stop party at Caligula’s palace, where you are constantly shagged up the arse by a queue of men with floppy fringes and made to snort anything powdery put in front of you. Oh, and maybe a bit of dancing and some vol-au-vents.
Yeah, the dancing, which is where Bez comes in. Bez isn’t a musician, he’s the dancer. Remember Howard Jones had that fucking awful clown/mime fella onstage with him in the 80s?
NOT like that.
Oh NO, Bez is a most singular dancer. Sometimes he shakes maracas, other times he just gets up and wiggles, strides and I dunno… flops about. Now that may sound a bit weird, but it isn’t. He and what he does, is perfect and is an integral part of the Happy Mondays (and subsequent bands) and their performances.
Although The Happy Mondays occasionally ‘re-join’ and go on tour, Bez had to find a way to make a living once the band split. He tried drug dealing, which didn’t end well. Having an epiphany after nearly getting his head blown off during his last deal, he decided to change his life, and he did.
Bez became a TV celebrity (and attempted politician – I’d vote for him).
He’s appeared in a lot of TV shows; Skins, The Wheel (I hate Michael McIntyre), Would I Lie to You? Celebrity MasterChef, Blankety Blank (awesome), celebrity Gogglebox (with Shaun Ryder), Dancing on Ice, Celebrity Mastermind, Bargain Hunt (he cheated) and he famously WON celebrity Big Brother in 2005.
As you can see, Bez is a grafter, and he has used his ‘celebrity’ to continue to earn a living.
Why does this work? HOW has an ex-drug addict/maraca player become a true national treasure?
I’ll tell you why, it’s simple.
He’s a truthful, genuine, nice guy. He may appear a bit thick to some, he’s not, he’s as sharp as a machete, he might seem a bit out of it (and I’m sure he was in the past), not anymore.
You know what else? He has some amazing stories, from hanging around with Johnny Depp and Kate Moss, to turning down Julia Roberts in the Viper room because his wife was expecting their first baby. He was there at a turning point in British Culture, at the centre of it all, he mixed with those stars of the 90s, and thankfully can remember most of what happened. I can imagine him, wandering around with his eyes open thinking…. ‘Fookin hell’!
An audience with at the Tivoli in Buckley with our own Mr 60MW Dave as host was intimate and really enjoyable. One of the great things about the Tivoli is you can actually SEE who’s on stage, and being so close to this – let’s face it – icon, was quite something. For 90 minutes Dave and Bez chatted and laughed while Bez was very animated and recounted his childhood, band days and what he’s been doing since. He was attentive and engaged with the audience, and laughed a lot at some of the daft stuff he’s got up to. He was, in short, charming.
A fella like Bez could be a show-off, full of himself (I mean this is a man who had David Bowie shout out ‘BEZ’! to him ffs), but no.
He is humble, even now I don’t think he can believe his luck (he once hid in a cave for 3 weeks in Morocco after shoplifting, he was homeless many times and has been in prison), and I believe he’s quite a caring soul too. On meeting him he wasn’t bored or distant with ANYONE, he spent time with all the people waiting in line to see him, thanked them for coming, and had a huge smile on his face, he looked right in your eyes and was genuine and engaged. A rare thing with celebs these days. He had NO entourage either. What a nice fella (he is also on my “Tina’s Celeb kissed list”, and he wasn’t scared which makes a change).
So, this isn’t so much of a ‘a night with Bez at the Tiv’ review going through what happened bit by bit, but rather a “go and spend an evening with Bez, listen to his stories, and enjoy his company and warmth”.
What a fantastic evening spent with Bez, and what a lovely welcome as always from the staff at the Tiv: Roki, Kirsty, Chris, Swilly, and Dave.
This was my first visit after 3 long years, and it was like I’d never been away. It is and will always be, the best venue. It’s a privilege for us that it continues and we should do everything we can to support it.
I must also mention the host of the evening, Dave. Those of you who listen to Dave podcasting know about his velvet voice, but in all seriousness, it takes a ‘special’ person to get up on stage in front of an audience and talk to a celebrity for 90 minutes with confidence and humour and the ability to be INTERESTING. Which Dave always is. He is in my honest opinion, a natural at conversation, someone who can make their interviewee relaxed enough to chat naturally about anything, which is what he’s done with so many people, from Bez to Directors John Carpenter and Neil Marshall, to Shaun Ryder, Frank Stallone and Suzy bloody Quatro – the list goes on.
Well done, Dave! What a brilliant night. Highly recommend.
Photos © Swilly’s Photography
Review by Tina.