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.