The Wiyos & Little Miss Higgins. Newcastle ClunyII
Cluny II, Newcastle
Guess who hadn’t done his homework before this gig!
I had expected support act Little Miss Higgins to be a twee singer-songwriter and got my socks blown off by a sassy young woman who smiled a lot and played a pretty mean geetar as she sang about beer, the farms near where she lives, beer and my favourite song of the year so far “Bargain Store Panties” with a sing a long chorus!
All this while she traded funky guitar licks with husband Floyd Taylor.
During Miss Higgins set a party of young Canadians who were following both bands and had discovered the delights of English beer (the strong type) earlier in the day made themselves known by whooping and wailing at every opportunity. They were shushed by the singer and audience but didn’t take any notice.
The Wiyos took it upon themselves to only play two songs from their latest album and instead gave us a rootin and tootin, Ragtime, folk, Jazz flavoured Rock and Roll, soft-shoe shuffling party that the packed Cluny II audience won’t forget in a long time.
It was amazing what four musicians could do with only 79 different musical instruments and a back catalogue that goes back nearly 10 years.
You just had to see the instruments that singer Michael Fargas used: cymbals, cowbells, hooters, assorted tubes, several kazoos, harmonicas and even an air-raid siren but boy; could he get a tune out of them.
None of these gadgets overshadowed the songs or the brilliance of the other three musicians on stage; it just left you mesmerised.
Lanky Seth Travins not only kept the whole shebang together on double bass but sang too, JT Weber played electric guitar, pedal steel and was a maestro on the cornet and sang, plus we had the legendary Andy Bean strumming a four string acoustic guitar …as well as singing like an Angel.
Highlights? Where do I start? ‘17 cars in 18 years’? The delicious ‘Choc deVille’? The super smooth ‘Summertime’? The very danceable ‘Natty Dread Polka’? Or even the song they wrote on Monday evening– ‘Tikka, Tikka Massalla’?
The Wiyos even previewed 5 songs from their next album which is going to be a tribute to the Wizard of Oz and were so good I need to buy a copy NOW!
With about 30 minutes to go our friends from Canada had now made their way onto the closed balcony were having a wild old time; much to everyone else’s expense! After slopping their beer on the patrons below they were eventually asked to leave; which was a disappointing first for this very liberal venue.
Seeing the Wiyos live was a once in a lifetime experience and when you add Little Miss Higgins’ performance the whole night was a blast from start to finish.
this review first appeared in www.maverick-country.co.uk magazine