Review: Joe Black in Leicester. The embodiment of an apocalyptic, stand-up comedy drag-cabaret show

By Shaikha Rahimi

Joe Black on the main stage of the Y Theatre. Purple and green lights shining on Black as he is speaking into the standing microphone.
Joe Black on stage at the Y Theatre, Leicester. Image by Shaikha Rahimi

Joe Black is not your typical post-Drag Race drag artist, and Club Cataclysm shows you exactly why that is. Throughout this hour-and-a-half show his non-conventional ‘less pop princess, more punk cabaret’ artistry took centre stage. Black’s Club Cataclysm embodied all the delights one can experience at an apocalyptic, stand-up comedy drag-cabaret show.

Since the second series of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Black has been embracing his gifted talents and years of experience being a drag artist and musician. He is no stranger to touring – Black has appeared across the UK, Europe, Australia, and the US – and always immersed himself in music. Despite his inactivity in the musical realm since the pandemic, he recently premiered his single Final Curtain which is about nothing really working out in the end – very much aligned with the themes of Club Cataclysm.

Black’s devilish, wicked but somehow still cabaret-esque persona was conspicuous even before he appeared on stage. “Happy Hallowe’en Leicester,” he said as the lights went down to signal the start of the show. He constantly left trails of dark humour in his conversations with the audience. “Boom boom boom, death death death. That’s what sparks joy in me,” he said.

The drag artist’s punk cabaret characteristics never failed to shine through his references. Even though he does not deprive the audience of hilarious RuPaul’s Drag Race and pop culture references, he does it in the most ‘Joe Black’ way possible. Drag lovers have heard queer bangers for the longest time but the cabaret drag genius reinvented the wheel in his take on pop culture by adding a remarkable musical flair.

Club Cataclysm is Black’s interpretation of the current state of the world, and some of it included a satirical take on the cost of living crisis. “No one has any f****** money, so thanks for coming,” he said to the audience. Honesty was a core theme, and Black built a bond with the audience by using that throughout the show. He allowed the audience to let loose and enjoy every second of it just by being quintessentially Joe, and having fun. He really did not have to do much to keep the audience on the edges of their seats, but what seemed like effortless attempts to do so paid off very well.

Complimentary to Black’s aesthetic and branding colours, the gleaming purple and green lighting personified the darkest cabaret apocalyptic visual imagery possible. He also makes an effort of switching up the lighting during his piano ballads. “I’m aware I’m asking for things on the go and you’re probably thinking ‘go f*** yourself’,” he said to the lighting engineer.

The content shifted from the quirky to the sentimental, and Black played the ukulele, piano, and accordion while hitting an impressive variety of vocal octaves. He truly did not rest and neither did the audience (from both eyebrow-raising amusement and knee-slapping laughter). Even when he grabbed a drink with one hand, he played an instrument with the other. 

Joe Black playing the accordion while singing into the standing microphone.
Joe Black playing the accordion. Image by Shaikha Rahimi.

Club Cataclysm is a delightful show for lovers of drag, cabaret, and anything unconventionally punk. It is great to see Black on stage doing what he does best – taking the tornado of creativity within him and fine-tuning to glorious effect. This is a must-watch show performed by a creative genius with unrivalled talent.

Joe Black’s UK and Ireland tour includes dates in Bath, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Birmingham and Portsmouth, and finishes in Brighton on Sunday, November 20. Buy tickets at

Meet Joe Black: star of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK plays Leicester

On the road: Joe Black’s Club Cataclysm tours the UK and Ireland with 18 destinations to include Leicester.

By Shaikha Rahimi

Brighton-based drag artist Joe Black has embarked on his Club Cataclysm UK and Ireland tour, with a show at Leicester’s Y Theatre tonight.

With ticket prices starting at £22.50, the dark and decadent one-man show is set to be a sarcastic take on the current state of the world. 

The tour started in Dublin on Wednesday, October 26. The drag artist will tour the UK and Ireland before finishing in Brighton on Sunday, November 20.

The dark cabaret drag artist and musician is best known for competing on the second series of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK. Black has expressed his love for music is one of the main reasons he is pursuing his career. 

The Brighton-based drag artist regularly performs in his hometown, specifically in festivals such as the annual Brighton Fringe festival.

Club Cataclysm follows Black’s successful UK tour Decopunk which was held in the spring of 2022.

“Club Cataclysm is very much a hark back to my roots as purely a dark cabaret musician. It’s nice to revisit that with a more deep well of experience and to focus on bringing that back to life.

“It’s very unapologetically ‘Joe Black’, which I think for an audience that came to me purely through Drag Race UK is going to be interesting! It’s pretty far removed from the usual post-show content done by people,” said Black. 

He has described Club Cataclysm as ‘less pop princess, more punk cabaret.’

Black said he comes up with the title of his tours through alliteration. “Usually I’ll take words I love and see what other words can allude to the same thing,” he said.

“Decopunk came from steampunk. Less goggles and airships, more dark glamour perhaps .. ?

“Club Cataclysm almost felt like a speakeasy for me. Part cult, part speakeasy. Some apocalyptic bunker where people go to forget their worries.”

Club Cataclysm will see Black return to performing many of his original numbers. 

“With Decopunk I had someone else with me on the piano, so I didn’t do any live music myself really. This time it’s just me on my own, so I’m being let loose to cause whatever chaos occurs to me at the time and in the moment,” said Black.

Black’s latest single Final Curtain premiered on September 30, 2022. According to an interview with Strong Island, there is a long-awaited album on the way after Club Cataclysm.

In a post on Black’s Instagram promoting the single, he said: “I haven’t written my own song in years and this is one I am very proud of. Sorry to other Drag Race alumni that it’s not a club banger and I’m breaking the usual post-Drag Race tradition. (I’m not sorry).”

Club Cataclysm is set to indulge the audience among neon-lit rubble as it ‘veers ever quicker towards the end of the world as we know it.’

“Join me for an evening of devilish dirge, vaudevillian villainy, and musical mayhem,” said Black.

Audiences attending the show should expect ‘songs, stories, nonsense, tomfoolery, jazz, blues, and polka.’

“And a megaphone. I’ve fallen back in love with megaphones. Loud. Obnoxious. Glorious,” he said.

“Accordion, ukulele, and piano in tow, the soundtrack to the end has never been so jaunty. A cataclysmic cabaret to celebrate that nothing really works out in the end.

“An evening of mire, mirth, and dirge – oh my! It’s last orders at the bar, so let us toast and drink up. It’s going to be a bumpy ride,” said Black. 

Doors for Club Cataclysm open tonight at 7pm and the show starts at 8pm at Leicester’s Y Theatre.

Tickets are available to purchase at