Ruff ruff! This weekend Ferocious Dog took to the stage in Edinburgh, at legendary venue La Belle Angele. They played a blinder, as if you needed telling 😉 Here’s a review o’ the gig by The Celtic Punk Author, who was there. With support from Mucky Scoundrel.
It feels bloody good to watch live gigs again after that pesky virus stopped ’em. If there’s one band that doesn’t disappoint, no matter how many lockdowns we’ve had, then Ferocious Dog is it. On Saturday 6th November the boys set up at La Belle Angele, an awesome wee venue in Scotland’s capital that brings in the finest in underground music names.
Supporting: Mucky Scoundrel
I got to the venue early, bought the obligatory pint and made a donation to the Lee Bonsall Memorial Fund (more info below). Soon after, it was time to enjoy Mucky Scoundrel, last-minute replacements for the injured Gimme Gimme Gimmes. Frontman Mark Feeney broke a string during the first song (a nightmare that all us guitarists can relate to!), but he played to an obliging audience as the club floor started to fill. Opening as a solo act can be a wee bit lonely, lemme tell ya, but Mark had an excellent accompaniment in Danny Kelly, who supplied some slick basslines and backing vocals.
The duo played 8 songs as I recall, with a mixture of humorous lyrics and more serious numbers, and some sweet vocal harmonies to bolster the music. To get a feel for what they can do, check this oot:
To hear more from Mucky Scoundrel, check ’em out on Facebook, or watch the well-made, if slightly sad video to “Last To Fall” on YouTube. It’s a full studio version of a song that featured in Saturday’s setlist. Click HERE to watch it.
Headlining: Ferocious Dog
The Angele was nicely filled by the time The Dog’s walk-on music “Port Isaac” chimed into view. The band were to play many songs off their newest album The Hope (UK #31), and sure enough, they kicked things off with their rendition of fisherman’s shanty “Haul Away Joe”. After that it was straight into “Pentrich Rising”, arguably the band’s finest song to date (and there are many candidates for that!) A sample of the live performance, and how it got folks up and jumpin’, can be seen below:
Next up was “Victims”, another track in E minor with a more melancholy fiddle riff. The front-row faithful, known affectionately as the band’s “hell hounds”, kept the mosh pit going and were well up for the “OK, let’s go!” shout during the song. We then moved into “Broken Soldier”, the first of a number of songs the band played about the horrors of war. For those who don’t know, Lee Bonsall (mentioned above) was lead singer Ken’s son. Lee gave the band their name when he was a boy, and went on to serve in Afghanistan at the age of 18. Sadly, he later took his own life at the age of just 24, unable to overcome what he’d seen and been through in the war. This gave rise to the Lee Bonsall Memorial Fund, and if you can spare a few quid for these guys, then get in touch with them HERE, and show your support for those still fighting the war in their hearts and minds, years later.
On the subject of charitable giving, “Sea Shepherd” is a song with a pirate-like feel to it, dedicated to the marine conservation charity of the same name. Ken was proudly sporting his Sea Shepherd T-shirt at the gig, and volunteers from Sea Shepherd themselves were at the doors with merch (I bought a beanie to replace the one I lost years ago). I first heard of these guys years ago through the Dutch band Omnia, who play[ed] pagan folk with a big dose of “fuck authority” thrown in. Sea Shepherd are more into direct action than Greenpeace, but they stay on the right side of the line. To learn more about these guys, make a donation or buy something, check ’em out HERE.
On “1914”, another track off The Hope, fiddler Dan Booth stepped up to sing lead vocals. Dan is one of two remaining members from the original 1988 line-up, with Ken being the other one. I particularly smiled at the line “there was whisky on Sundays” – if that ain’t a nod to The Pogues and “The Broad Majestic Shannon”, a fine piece of MacGowan magic, then I don’t know what it is, ye ken.
Music has the right to children
After a reel or two, which broke things up nicely but kept folks dancing, the band returned to their eponymous 2013 album, and the songs “Too Late” and the reggae-tinged “Freeborn John”. After these two strong tracks, it was back to The Hope again for “Born Under Punches”, another poignant song about homelessness in London. “Punk Police”, meanwhile, was written about those who feel they can tell others what’s punk and what’s not, or what they can listen to and what they can’t. As a famous Scottish duo once pointed out, “music has the right to children”. So although a punk band must understand what punk is about and how it originated, punk does have the right to morph and grow, as do all forms of music. With a “fuck the punk police” shouted at the end of the song, Ken made this clear.
The Dog closed their set with a few more songs, but were eagerly welcomed back for an encore. They had three more songs ready to go, the strongest of which was arguably the finisher, “Slow Motion Suicide”, taken from 2015’s From Without. This closer was another sad reminder of the terrible consequences of mental health problems, if the victims don’t get the support they need. Having suffered from depression and anxiety myself, I believe there’s an answer for everyone. People react differently to different types of treatment; what’s important is that people get the help that works for them.
All in all…
All in all, this was a fine gig, with a good dose o’ speedfolk to keep out the November cold. The band tore through their set impressively, never letting up but remaining as tight as we all knew they would be. As the crowd put their hands in the air for the obligatory end-of-gig photo, I was glad I went, and I’ll keep me ear to the ground for future FD gigs in this neck of the woods. Okay, my one complaint: the band didn’t play “Crime and Punishment” 😁 But that’s jammern auf hohem Niveau, as they say in Germany (English: “nitpicking”).
We would like to thank La Belle Angele for putting the show on, and for all they do to support live music. Show ’em some love and attention by visiting their website for further info and news about upcoming events. Next time you’re up Edinburgh way, we recommend checkin’ out what’s on there 👍