John Hegley certainly knows his potatoes

With a mix of poetry and song, John Hegley presented an evening of gentle good humour at the Corn Hall. With the help of Chris and his trumpet, he delighted his audience with whimsies on subjects as diverse as Rotherham, Jesus and Armadillos.

While much on offer was straightforwardly silly, there was also substance. When he spoke wistfully of Luton’s hat-making glory days, or the Anglicisation of his father (who turned from René into Bob) it was fun, but there were also melancholic nods to days past that belied the daftness of delivery. His drawings may have been simple, but with them he crafted charming, magical tales of floating sofas, melting wings and parrots. There were riddles too, and self-deprecating reviews from bed-ridden critics in hospital.

It’s a pity some of the intricacy and subtlety of his poetry inevitably got lost in the hubbub, but there is no denying that he put on a marvellous show. What really won over the audience was participation. Ever more involved and loopy as the evening progressed, the encore had the crowd doing all the singing, in praise of the guillemot, while John and Chris were content to strum and toot along.