Cluny 2 Newcastle
January 12th 2013
Usually things that are ‘too good to be true’ generally are; but the opportunity to see Folk-Rockers Holy Moly and the Crackers alongside the Jazz-Swing groovesters Rob Heron and the Tea Pad Orchestra for only £3 was always going to be too good to miss.
The other band on the bill were only playing their fourth ever gig; but, even at their tender ages all four members of The King Bees are seasoned veterans of the local music scene and their professionalism shone through a startling 40 minutes of Chess era Rhythm and Blues. They opened their short set with Going Down Slow then followed that with a passionate; yet reverential version of Killing Floor which was a huge surprise to this veteran of the Newcastle music scene.
All things considered; and I don’t think it’s what they were aiming for; but The King Bees reminded me of ‘Five Live’ era Yardbirds when Eric Clapton was a member.
One of the swiftest ever changeovers meant that the Holy Molies were on stage and belting out Down On Time before I even had time to go to the bar!
Dressed like Victorian Street urchins;’ singers Conrad Bird and Ruth Patterson had the packed crowd in the palms of their hands from New Orleans Waltz right through to the delightful Bluebell Woods which ended their set.
It’s too easy to just focus on Conrad and the delightful Ruth who take the lead but Rosie Bristow made her accordion into an actual lead instrument tonight and Ash Butler on drums, pots, pans and goodness knows what else formed a fluid rhythm section with the mysterious man on bass.
Possibly my highlight of the evening, was the call and respond song, Willie and Lily; which I first heard in it’s infancy six months ago but is now fully fledged and marks a high point in the band’s writing and creativity.
This quartet just gets better and better every time I see them; and if there is any justice in the world they will ride the coat-tails of Bellowhead and Mumford & Sons to stardom before the year is out.
Dressed like 1920’s Bootleggers Rob Heron and the Tea Pad Orchestra started with their charming Danse de Limonade and the dancers that follow the band everywhere, were soon struggling for space as every square inch of Cluny II was occupied by someone with a grin on their faces as the Tea Pads squeezed in most of the tracks from their new album and even a new song Rob had finished the day before – Hey Mr. Landlord; which had a toe tapping beat masking a very harsh message about Rogue Landlords.
The atmosphere among the very young audience was now ‘beyond excitable’ and it fair made my heart beat loudly as a hundred or more joined in with a word perfect rendition of the band’s ‘signature tune;’ The Great Fire of Byker and I swear I even saw sparks coming from Heron’s Steel guitar as he played it so fast! Another new song; Steamboat had some rather racy lyrics and gave me the very first sighting of someone playing a harmonica through a megaphone; which will stay with me for a very long time.
It’s a fair bet that 99% of the people reading this will never have heard of these bands as they are all based in Newcastle, England; (unless you read all of my reviews!) but there must be young musicians all over the world this good who just need a platform to perform on – the audiences are there; it just takes a brave promoter to take a shot in the dark sometimes.
What a great start to the year – three great bands for only three pounds; what’s not to like?