Big Yin humour heading our way

Coming here: Billy Connelly will perform in Blenheim in May as a result of the closure of Nelson’s Trafalgar Centre
Coming here: Billy Connelly will perform in Blenheim in May as a result of the closure of Nelson’s Trafalgar Centre

Wild man of comedy Billy Connolly is coming to Blenheim.

Connolly, or "The Big Yin" as he's affectionately known in his native Scotland, will be playing at Marlborough Lines Stadium 2000 on May 9.

Connolly was originally booked to play at the Trafalgar Centre in Nelson, but it suddenly closed late last year because of earthquake risk.

Connelly's New Zealand promoter Ian Magan said the 12-city tour was very nearly without a top-of-the-south stopover.

"We had booked the Trafalgar Centre, where he played the last time [2009]. That was a huge show, about 2500 people, and sold out in a few hours," Mr Magan said.

"Naturally, we thought we would go back there but just before Christmas we were informed that it was closing because of earthquake risk. So we got on the phone and started looking for a new venue."

Mr Magan praised the stadium's management for working with him to bring the show to Blenheim.

"We are very lucky he has got a huge following in Marlborough," he said.

Connolly played in Blenheim in 2004 while filming his World Tour of New Zealand television show.

He did a lot of smaller venues then because he was filming in smaller towns, Mr Magan said.

"He really quite liked Blenheim after that. It's quite good to be going back there really," he said. "He gets on very well with people in smaller towns. He walks around watching people. That's where he gets his material."

The High Horse Tour 2014 would still be advertised extensively in Nelson, Mr Magan said.

He expected a lot of people to come over the hill to see Connolly perform, which would be "a wee hit for the Blenheim economy that afternoon", he said.

Mr Magan said he thought the stadium could hold 2500 people, but its boss Paul Tredinnick said 1500 was more realistic.

"While it's not a perfect theatre it will work pretty well there," Mr Tredinnick said.

Mr Magan, who has been bringing Connolly to New Zealand since 1978, said fans could expect a lot of new material.

"Billy Connolly is famous for renewing his show, basically on a daily basis. He does it in a very subtle way. He adds a little bit every day to every show and takes a little bit off.

"Theoretically, after two years you've basically got a new show on the stage."

Tickets are for Connolly's High Horse Tour, in Blenheim, go on sale on February 7 through Ticketdirect.

Early bird tickets for Ticketdirect members, paid for by visa, are available from January 29.  

The Marlborough Express