Sunday, 27 July 2008

Al Baker and the Dole Queue / Nemo / World Inferno Friendship Society @ The Rigger, Newcastle-under-Lyme. July 24th.

Review by Steve Dean

Photos by Leo

Manchester-based Al Baker comes across as a person very pleased with how life has treated him so far, and this trait could well explain the jubilant feel that permeates most of his compositions. He and his companions, the Dole Queue (great name), produce music of a ceilidh band nature, but with punk overtones and more than a slight nod to the Dexy’s ‘band of tinkers’ period, the Pogues and even the Dubliners. The piano accordion and acoustic bass made for a rarer sound than one would expect in the metal-oriented Rigger, but they went down very well with the respectable-sized crowd and generally they set the scene for a great night’s entertainment. A six-piece including a sweet-voiced female vocalist, Al and his band took us through a playlist full of lively up-tempo numbers, including one featuring a French flavoured incidental part mainly delivered by the dextrous squeezebox man. The only cover he played that I recognised was a slightly hurried version of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Atlantic City’ and an unnamed Irish folk song which he said he had failed to rewrite which sounded a lot like the ‘The Irish Rover’, but wasn’t. A likeable bloke, a creditable band and an enjoyable act.

My Stoke Sounds colleague Danny Hill reviewed Nemo just a short while back, but not having seen them myself since much earlier in the year, it was with some anticipation that I watched them take to the stage. There is something very ‘John Bull’ about Nemo; they bring to mind the great English pub-rock groups of yore; Dr Feelgood and Kilburn and the High Roads being two that spring to mind. Kicking in with the bouncy ‘Loser’, their usual opener, they then introduced a new number entitled ‘Tie Me Down’; every bit as good as the rest of their material, the jungle beat appealed to my liking for strong rhythms immediately. Their pith helmet-wearing mascot Uncle Drew was there to count in a song or two (in German) and each spirited number was rewarded with well-deserved and appreciative applause. Nemo have a wealth of good, robust material in their set and they can always be relied upon to put on an entertaining and energetic show. I’m still not sure about the melding of The Damned’s ‘New Rose’ with ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ though; still, perhaps it’ll grow on me.

From Brooklyn, New York City, The World Inferno Friendship Society insisted on crowd participation right from the start. Vocalist Jack Terricloth began pulling punters onto the dance floor even before the band had begun proper and there they remained, bopping, hopping and leaping, growing in number song by song right up until the very end. Hugely theatrical in a circus kind of way, World Inferno Friendship Society come across as an even rockier still Rocky Horror Show meets The Tubes and Roxy Music. A six-piece, although their myspace profile suggests there are occasionally more members, they have a very full sound; tenor sax combining with the keyboards to produce a solid and orchestral ‘brass’ section. Terricloth is a formidable frontman and the standard of musicianship is very high indeed. Their playlist is up-tempo practically all the way and the whole band worked very hard, some impressive tenor sax and guitar soloing to be heard throughout. A vast range of musical styles are incorporated into the act, from rock ‘n’ roll and jazz to waltz and bierkellar ‘oompah’ band music. Indeed, the sight of the wildly dancing audience suddenly partnering up to waltz was a distinctly bemusing one. An eclectic mix of musicians, they are an extremely professional outfit and considering they were in the UK for just 5 dates, the other venues apparently sell-outs, it was something to be thankful for that they were playing the Rigger for free. Great stuff.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great night. i wanted to come too but some friends had Batman tickets... Hope they visit Stoke again soon.