Talk of the Tarn..

Another day, another chance to discover a new venue for a Ferocious Dog gig!  Barnsley Rock and Blues sits near the hospital in Barnsley and comprises a friendly bar with a hidden gem of a venue room at the back – something Andy and I rather spoiled the surprise of by arriving early and inadvertently going in via the back way, but never mind, huh?  It was a good chance for Andy to catch the end of the egg-chasing and to watch the end of the Burnley vs Man City match along with Dan and Ken.

Anyone local should pop back tomorrow (well, later today now) to check out the Star Botherers.

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A second consecutive sober gig for me owing to a combination of driving and an early start Sunday, and opting to hang back a bit at the periphery of the pit gave me the chance for the first time in ages to actually take a step back and watch the performance on stage which despite the lure of the mosh (okay, so I indulged a bit) was actually a treat – but first up we had a short set from Brad Dear with Chris on percussion which sounded great – I’m sure most Ferocious Dog followers will have encountered Brad’s performances over the last couple of years.

The second support act was local band Parson’s Lot who put on an energetic show including a couple of Levellers covers which is always going to go down well (including their contribution to Bostin’ Days – so whilst they spoilered it I shall refrain!).  It was also fun to hear an alternative take on ‘Paddy on the Railway’ which of course we know quite well from the Ferocious Dog version.

A bit of a wait then for the main event and well, you know the routine by now – didgeridoo moody music, a quick trip to the gents before any elbows might hit bladder and I found myself tripping over the band about to hit the stage, and they immediately launched into the new stuff as before.  What was good though was rather than whirling around and trying to avoid being knocked from my feet was just watching how accomplished the band are as a group of performers.

Given the newness of the line-up it’s so lovely to see Les playing with the biggest smile on his face, Scott and John too looking like they’re loving every minute.  Ken is much more talkative between songs and such a confident front man these days, Ellis continues to bamboozle with his ridiculous stringed instrument skills and passionate expressions and I’m sure I even saw Dan crack a smile a couple of times whilst layering the sound with his amazing fiddle playing.

Soberness and concentrating on watching more than wrestling really helped take in the new material some more – I’m dead excited for the new album anyway, but more so now to get even more familiar with them.  There’s a couple in there that are already threatening to start fighting their way into my mental list of absolute favourites (not that there’s a duff ‘un in the set list) – I think it’s Crime and Punishment that really stands out for me and definitely Marikana Massacre as potential rivals/additions for my current favourites.

With no Dean to orchestrate us there was a bit of kerfuffling for Freeborn John which saw me return to surfboard duties for Simon to take to the air to admirable effect.  That was my excuse for a bit of scuffling in the mosh pit before retiring to relative safety on the fringes, ostensibly helping to keep people from stomping on Shauni’s dodgy foot – mainly though it turned out to admire Bruce’s seemingly physics-defying ability to repel any number of flying bodies like a human forcefield.

As the gig inevitably drew to a close it was soon time to retrieve hoodies from Leanne on the merchandise stand and start the goodbyes before hitting the road back to Nottingham to drop Andy off then on to home – we’ve both got an early start tomorrow volunteering for an event our mate is running (which makes writing this at gone 2am a bit of a daft idea, but as ever an evening in the company of Ferocious Dog and the Hell Hounds generally leaves my mind whirring a little too much to go to sleep straight away!).

Another top performance – the band are sounding incredibly tight and, as noted after the Bodega gig, really are showing the kind confidence and swagger their burgeoning reputation justifies (whilst still retaining that wonderfully endearing groundedness we all love about them – for example, it was lovely to see Les out in the crowd completely absorbed in watching the support acts, or John and Les having some kind of dance-off during an acoustic section of a song where they weren’t playing from opposite sides of the stage).

Not only are these guys great at what they do and building the kind of momentum that their hard work deserves – it really looks like they’re bloody enjoying themselves too which is wonderful to see.  There’s a bit of a pause now before the next gig I have a ticket for which is in Derby on 11th April.  Although there’s still a bit of time for me to be lured into buying a ticket for Cambridge the night before too!  So a chance for us all to let our bruises heal and get some rest before it all starts again… is it April yet?

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