Friday, 24 February 2006

Cumbawamba - Hebden Bridge


hebden bridge trades club february 23rd 2006

Good job I checked what was about to happen tonight, as I am not sure how I would have reacted to turning up at the Trades Club, finding out that Chumbawamba are going acoustic on this mini tour would have come as some of a shock. My friends from Cornwall are spending half term in Blackburn, and had found out that Chumbawamba are playing at the Trades Club in Hedben Bridge. In years gone by we had spend many evenings at this venue, enjoying the non turkish delights they had to offer, often lubricated with many pints of Beamish. So with those facts stated and entered here, a new visit would be on the cards.

Unfortunately a personal matter precluded other friends from making it tonight, so for the evening it would be a 'threesome'. That being the case, and meeting my Cornish friends at the venue, a train must be caught. Timetables being fluid and constantly without edge, an early arrival would be improbable, so food must be consumed before any drinking commences. A telephone box must be procured for a non super quick change, camera fully charged ready for recording the evenings events and video set, for my sad addiction to crap TV must be sated.

As usual the train is delayed, its only a 40minute journey to my destination, but if you add any delays its always a longer journey, but the best part of any journey is finally getting there. A quick wander down the main road and my destination is arrived at. Passing the band on the stairs, they have either just finished and I have missed it, or they are adjourning for a short respite before entertaining us with accapellic treatments of old classics. As this is a 'working mans' club of sorts, you must have membership qualities, this can be achieved by passing some small coinage to recieving hands and a quick scribble in a large officious book.

Cramming into a small reception bar I catch up with me mates, quickly exchanging news of recent happenings, fortunately this never ever takes long. A support act is going to warm up the proceedings, so the main doors are opened and we are herded into the main room. Tonight it will be an all seated affair, condusive to acoustic performances, not that standing is any different, it all adds to an air of refinement, all mixed up with socialist anticipation and some confusion. For my none attending friends a refund for unused tickets is procured from the woman with the money, time for the support to support.

Madeline Brooks takes to the stage, a little horse, also a little husky is with her, not that any animals are performing, just a sore throat. Not that you could tell when she started belting out original renditions that Tori Amos would be proud of. Her set is full of warmth and good humour, the seated audience remains seatbound throughout, bladders are held tight along with an almost hypnotic attention. No gimmicks, just one girl with a guitar, a few short tales punctuate the gaps between songs, home humourous some heartfelt, but all original. A great start to what is going to turn out to be a great evening.

A short break follows so more beer can be aquired, baldders emptied and the no-smoking policy reinforced by the commitee, this is no Wheeltapers and Shunters club, but some aspects of Phoenix Nights are in evidence, more tattooed socialism than garlic bread.

Tonight Chumbawamba are a 5 piece, no Danbert or Alice of old, but for tonights interpretation that aspect of Chumbawamba is not necessary, stripped down to its acoustic roots, harking back to English Rebel Songs. Straight away classics are delivered to raptuous applause. 'Stitch That', 'Homophobia' and 'Timebomb' have the audience singing in their seats, explanations preceed new songs, brief history lessons on the origins of old English folk tunes of insurrection against the established order. 'You Can' recounts the mass tresspass of ramblers back in the 1930's, a protest without violence can have a loud voice, but 5 unacompanied voices in harmony delivers a loud message often forgotten in these times of technological marvels.

An intermission gives chance to stretch legs, relubricate the parts other drinks fail to, and deposit wasted waters upon stainless troughs. Returning to the stage after a brief hiatus, Chumbawamba pick from where they left off, mixing old classics with classic old folk tunes, perfectly executed without backing tapes, just acoustic guitars, accordian and trumpet. Stripping songs down to a more basic form gives a greater impact to its lyrical and sometimes comical content. 'On EBay' has us all singing seperate parts from different sections of the audience, but all good things must come to and end. Leaving us with 'Enough Is Enough', all that is left is to wait for the obligatory encore for the payoff. Rounding off the evening with rousing reditions of 'The Last Nazi' and 'Her Majesty' is more than enough, for tonight has been quite a revelation. A tightly packed audience leave the Trades Club with the knowledge that tonights performance, along with all on this mini tour have been recorded for a future CD release, so at some time in the future we may be able to relive the moment we heard it live right in front of us.

So homeward bound we go, with a song in our hearts and beer in our belly, contented that an evenings entertainment was worthy of note, and that note was accapellic and came in many keys, all of which came without plugs.

Saturday, 11 February 2006

Whole Lotta Led - King Georges Hall, Blackburn

whole lotta led

King Georges Hall - 10th feb 2006

To be honest I don't much care for tribute bands, reason being, tribute bands by their very nature owe their existence to another bands ability to write and perform original material. Performing covers in an original way as a non-tribute band has its place, as many bands do this paying tribute to another band they have been influenced by. Few exceptions exist for me, Australian Pink Floyd and The Muffin Men, to name but a few. These do exactly as prescribed, they are tribute bands, they don't pretend to be anything else, but have a certain special quality, that enables them to rise above the run of the mill tribute band. Enough about the merits of being or not being a tribute band, its time for the evenings entertainment.

Packed into the Windsor Suite on a cold February evening, passionate followers of probably the most classic of all classic rock bands, have collected together to witness a tribute band attempt to recreate the music of Led Zeppelin. This has to be a most monumental task, how can you emulate the originators of all that is 'rock'. This attempt could be such folly, and fall so flat that no glue soaked patchwork of vulcanised rubber could re-inflate, but any attempt must be viewed with an open mind. Even if clouded with a modicum of alcohol.

The concept for the evening, for this band works with Led Zeppelin based concepts, is to play the Knebworth 1979 set list in its entirity. In the past they have performed other classic concerts, including Earls Court 1975. This attention to detail does have its plus points, rather than just playing all the popular tunes, or a greatest hits, a snapshot of Led Zeppelin history at the end of its glorious reign.

The Song Remains The Same opens the set to a pensive audience. The band obviously do not look like Zep, and in no way attempt to dress like them, but musically they have it. Older members of the collected inquisitors look upon the band not sure how they should respond, some perplexed faces look around for re-inforcement, some nod heads with eyes closed re-capturing a lost youth. Younger members just enjoy what is being performed for what it is, rock music carved in marble, classic, timeless, influencing all that followed.

Classic after classic permiates the room, the band are working hard, unfortunately punching the air does nothing but add an air of fermented cows milk, cringeworthy, and not worth repeating, unless you are Spinal Tap. This band must really enjoy what they do, despite the air punching. Professionalism is obvious, no lightweight could play such bombastic songs with such ease. Each member has time in the spotlight, from playing the keyboard part from No Quarter on bass, to the compulsary skin pounding that is Moby Dick, even including a bit of Theremin play on Whole Lotta Love.

Vocally, on a good day he could probably pull rabbits out of hats, but tonight he sounded a little tired and ragged around the edges, more Bon Scott than Robert Plant, but there is only one Percy. Playing the Knebworth set is a mighty task, not just for its length, but for the variety of style, unfortunately the vocals let them down in the detail. That detail cannot be overlooked, to be Zep you have to have it all, or its nothing.

Tribute bands are, as tribute is, not the real thing. Emulation can work, but you have to make it your own. Dread Zeppelin did just that, mixing Zep with Elvis, playing it in a reggae style making it original. Tonight I saw a tribute band, nothing more nothing less. Enjoyable but not too memorable, personally I thought they were ok, glad I saw them, but not too sure if I would go again.