Speakers Push Air


Some Belated Narc Business: Live Reviews

I’ve been very remiss over the summer in posting things I’ve had printed in Narc, so I’ll try and include the good stuff. The summer was quite quiet, gig-wise, these are all from the same weekend:

The Pine Hill Haints / Serious Sam Barret – The Central Bar, July 22nd

Hoopin’ and hollerin’ out of the hills of Alabama like an impossibly good looking, rock-a-hillbilly cave-dwelling cult, the Pine Hill Haints tore the roof off The Central Bar at their post-SummerTyne  Americana secret gig. A short set from Leeds-based folky Serious Sam Barrett was great, especially when head Haint Jamie Barrier joined on fiddle and vocals (expect an album in the autumn), but the Haints were the main event. Barrier led things on fiddle, guitar and vocals but there was plenty of swapping round along the way, especially when the utterly charismatic and possibly deranged Matt Bakula, usually on washtub bass, came forward to jabber and dance and testify and bewitch – and sing a calypso number (they resorted to drafting in their affable Irish roadie to play bass for that one). A drummer with a single snare, Katie Barrier on saw, mandolin and washboard, songs about death and drinking and fucking and God. Chanting and yelling and stomping. Fiddle–led folk numbers, low slung rockabilly, the best t-shirt sales pitch you ever heard and just about the most exciting, charismatic, brilliantly chaotic band  that most of us crammed in The Central to see them have ever come across.

 

Dr John & The Lower 911 – The Sage, July 22nd

 

We arrived at the Sage absolutely exhilirated from a ‘secret’ Pine Hills Haints gig, and so any disappointment with this show has to be seen in that context: after that, sitting politely in rows, unable to see the sweat on the band’s faces, lacks something.

That said, it was a solid enough gig. All credit to Dr John, his new album is a genuine return to powerful R&B form, which for a man in his eighth decade is no mean feat. He’s obviously getting old and he seemed to let his band do most of the heavy lifting here, but he still has that fantastic growl and his playing was spot on. The band were mostly solid and unshowy, save for an irksome keyboard player, gurning away in a vile frock coat. Props, though, to a genuinely charismatic trombonist and backing vocalist, whose charm and relaxed nature made her a highlight. We got a fair amount of new material and plenty of old classics – Going Back To New Orleans was a particular high point. The evening did dissipate into endless solos and noodling by the end, but to hear the Doc in such fine voice and playing so well was still a blessing.

 

Jumpin’ Hot @ SummerTyne Americana – The Performance Square, The Sage, July 21st – July 22nd

Two days of free music (three if you count the local band line-up on Friday) on the banks of the Tyne, in mostly glorious weather. Can’t be bad. When a good number of bands the Jumpin’ Hot Club have booked turn out to be pretty damn great, that’s even better. To be fair, there were  a couple of dodgy blues bands and one too many acoustic duos, but let’s accentuate the positive: Rob Heron & His Teapad Orchestra, with their sharp-dressed take on cajun and western swing, were a brilliant opening act on Saturday – there’s an album due soon and it’s going to be a gem. Saturday’s highlight were obviously Pine Hill Haints but you can read more about them elsewhere. Mama Rosin were the closers on Saturday and as per usual their delightfully bouncy take on Cajun was a treat. On Sunday, Treetop Flyers brought some proper southern rock, equal parts Crazy Horse and My Morning Jacket – a bit low on memorable songs but fun all the same. Larkin Poe’s blues inflected folk rock was a good fit, and Slim Chance – Ronnie Lane’s old band – were surprisingly enjoyable in a ‘neckerchief rock’ sort of way. Props too for the DJ for the weekend, Stagger Lee. Worth keeping an eye on that lad, he’s got an ear for a great tune. Handsome fucker, too.

 

 


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[…] Brother Randy keeps himself away from the booze and the cakes by writing the odd review for Narc Magazine. All sorts of nonsense – some of that hipstep, indiepopstep, metalstep. But the occasional bit of Old Record Club-friendly stuff too, like his review of the SummerTyne Americana weekend, which you can read here […]

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