By Stuart Walker
Drink, dancing, songs, a smashed mandolin – what’s not to like?
If you have a new EP to promote then you can go about it two ways. Do it the label way and have a nice refined lunch at a restaurant, invite some journos and hand out a few freebies or have a massive piss up come party on your drummers’ birthday. Guess which one Black water County did.
You can see a picture of the drummer on the right. He’s the one with a guitar in his hands.
That pretty much sums up any Black Water County appearance. Mayhem sprinkled with laughs and beer and of course some rollicking good tunes.
Turning up to The Barrington Theatre in Ferndown I was pleasantly surprised. My memory of the place is of antique fairs that smelled of wee and biscuits, but when cleared the main theatre is a good size and has a decent stage.
With a warm up by the excellent Southern Corruption (involving more products of the Harris production line) the crowd were ready for a memorable Saturday night. Speaking during the support act Tim told me that the good news was that Black Water County were ALMOST ready for a good time as they had to go and practice the song they hadn’t played for three months. Nothing like a bit of prep eh Tim?
The group took to the stage in an almost muted way (which is the last time you’ll see that word during this piece) before Tim’s powerful gravelly voice beats people over the head and they launch into their excellent ‘Steaming’ followed by one of my personal favourites ‘Irish Rover’. Instantly we can see that they have their game faces on although I’ve yet to see a gig where they didn’t.
Noticeable is the addition of Rus Scagell, he of Walk the Night, Colt 45, Delaney Mansions, One Night Only (are you bored yet?). Rus’ guitar phattens up the sound nicely and it’s a welcome extra boost as I find that if you’re going for a live Pogues/Dubliners noise then you need a lot going on. I’m practicing my accordion as we speak.
Things are getting going nicely and the crowd thickens up. It turns out to be close on a sell out which is nice – both for the Barrington where manager Andy is trying to get a few younger live bands in and for BWC who must now be getting the feeling that something good is happening.
But I digress.
The point of the night was to launch the new EP by the band “Fellowship of the Craic” which we will review in due course. On the night they go through the tracks of the EP that are exceptionally well received live. It’s difficult to pick a standout for the set but ‘The Happy Drunk’ was an enjoyable romp and interesting for its move towards ‘Thrash Folk’.
Not only this but we have a fine singalong in “All the pubs” which is a tribute to the hostelries that we all know and love in and about the town of Wimborne. Again this was very well received by an appreciative crowd
As the Guinness flowed freely the chaps (and chapess) moved seamlessly through songs that fans will know and love from their usual set including the ‘Wo Wo Wo’ song and ‘Dirty glass’. All executed with aplomb.
I’ve watched a few bands recently where I’ve thought that they are good musicians but need a character in the band to provide a bit of interest. At this point of the night I’m realising that Black Water County have five (now six) characters and it makes for a busy, full on night where you’d better come match fit because you’re unlikely to get out alive otherwise.
By this time of the night the artificial dividing line between crowd and band has been successfully broken down as two itinerant musicians are invited on stage (can you see who they are yet?) along with a well known rock photographer and members of the band disappear into the crowd for a bit of a dance.
Now it starts to get messy. Shan disappears off the stage and into the crowd, Andy L Smooth is called forward to sing and play guitar, Will Harris comes on to play drums and Gav smashes up his mandolin On purpose.
At one point everyone is lying down although Rus keeps hold of his Guinness without spillage. There’s a ‘wall of death’ and people are on other peoples shoulders before a concerned looking Andy is doing a mini crowd surf with guitar in hand.
Before long the night (for me at least) is finished and the crowd and I trundle off in to the Ferndown night humming ‘The Pirate Song’.
What a great set by the band. What was notable was that they had obviously been working on their stagecraft as there were one or two extra items in there that came from elsewhere. They may give the impression of a shambling fun time bunch of randomness but it’s clear that there is method and dare I say an amount of professionalism in there too. This band is developing into something good.
When I instituted my review rating system I resolved that I wouldn’t give anyone five stars. I’m trying to think of a reason why this gig wouldn’t get top marks. Ermm…
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this first appeared on the Gigs And Bands web-site and is published again here with Stuart’s permission. cheers Stuart! Gigs And Bands