And three very different gigs they were too. Let’s start at the Drill Hall, 27th Oct and the juggernaut of fun that is Big Boy Bloater and the Limits. Word was that the new band was gelling well and rocking up a storm so we were really looking forward to the night. As we headed towards the bar for a pre-show snifter we chanced across Lil’ Lisa Jane manning the Merch’ Stall and stopped for a quick chat. After a catch-up we headed to the bar, picked up a drink and moved in to the main hall to join 100 or so other fans for the party.
The gig, not surprisingly, majored on tunes from the new album with a good sprinkling of old faves and the sort of party atmosphere that the big man excels at. It’s difficult to convey the sheer, unadulterated joy of a BBB gig through listening to his cd’s or watching the videos – this is music that is at its best in a live situation, drink in one hand, best girl in the other and the groove in yer shoes.
November 23rd and we stepped it up a notch with Bellowhead at The Engine Shed. This multi-award winning ‘folk’ band are beginning to really break through to the mainstream now and, with their latest single making the Radio 2 A playlist, they packed out the venue. Before the main attraction however there was an unexpected treat in the shape of Mama Rosin – a Swiss three piece channeling the spirit of Jimi Hendrix through a potent blend of Cajun and Zydeco tuneage.
Nice video too.
Having been nicely warmed up by the infectious rhythms of this Swiss 3 piece we then welcomed to the stage the 11 piece musical behemoth that is Bellowhead. There live shows have a well deserved reputation for excellent musicianship and we were not disappointed. From the opening theatricality of ‘Black Beetle Pies’ from the new album, Broadside, to the closing ‘Up to the Rigs/London Town’, band members played various assorted and strange instruments to thrash out their arrangements of an assortment of traditional folk tunes. And when they weren’t playing they were dancing or encouraging the audience to clap, sing and stomp along with them. It really is difficult to describe the atmosphere of a Bellowhead gig and the sheer joie de vivre that seems to grip the entire audience but if you ever have the opportunity to go and see them, leap at it.
26th November saw a visit to the opposite end of the gig spectrum – the mighty Elbow at Nottingham Trent Arena. I did wonder how Elbow’s music would cope with an arena setting for although it is, in many ways, quite epic in conception it also has a great feeling of intimacy to it. Fortunately my fears proved unfounded for which much credit must go to their sound engineers. When you think about how many small gigs you go to where the balance and mix is totally out it is an immense achievement to fill a stadium like the Nottingham Arena with a smooth, warm wall of sound and then float Guy Garvey’s vocals effortlessly over the top of it. The whole gig was beautifully staged and I can only say, if you get the chance to see them live you owe it to your ears to take it.