Monkeying around in Tarn..
Okay, so Ferocious Dog were playing in Fleetwood last night and I cheated on them in Barnsley to watch 3 Daft Monkeys – but t’was most definitely worth it. It was off to the Polish Club in Tarn I went, a previous scene of Ferocious Dog goodness from earlier in the year, for a splendid evening of fun organised by the awesome Andrea who runs Let the Music Speak for Itself. As I’ve discovered in the last year, promoting and organising gigs is hard work with little reward trying to lever people from their sofas – so I’m personally very thankful there are such passionate folk about to supplement my social life.
For Friday night in rush-hour the M1 was reasonably kind, we detoured via Thorne to pick up Becky and Pete and arrived pretty much bang on schedule at the venue. There was time to have a natter with assorted folk like Darren, Collette, Rachel, Lisa, Janet and Dom (with an awesome Levellers shirt on) before getting hand-stamped up and heading into the venue proper ready for the show. Which commenced with the slightly terrifying spectacle of Dollar is Clinically Insane strutting around the stage banging a gong.
He described his act as spoken word – it was a combination of stand-up and poetry despite his protestations to the contrary. Self-depreciating and funny – probably funniest for us was watching 14 year old Dom, right at the front, listening to the – um – very adult themed pieces. An inability to get laid, being stuck in a porn vortex, celebrity stalking and – my personal highlight – regret at not being ‘the shag-monster of Yorkshire.’ It was certainly something a bit different to my normal choice of entertainment – and gave us some laughs with a follow-up underpinning of seriousness.
Dollar also acted compere for the evening – so he was there to see up the first musical act of the evening, the very familiar Scott Doonican – who’d been in the bar earlier in his ‘normal’ guise – it says something when in reality to me he looks more normal in a wig and an incredibly lurid tank top. I’ve never seen him perform solo before, and it was a predictably energetic and fun set – combining his skills with a guitar to his, well, lesser skills with an accordion (although the folk song he did with this was funny as hell).
Björn came and joined him on stage (having also transformed from the Dan we saw before the show) for a bit of violin and mandolin accompaniment. He’s getting a bit bloody good on that violin now – the sickeningly talented bugger. It provided – as seems to often be the case – the highlight of the evening when his ambulance noise reduced Scott to near-laughter during the otherwise wholly serious and tender (arf) The Zipper. If you avail yourself of their latest live album you can re-live a couple of examples of this hilarity (it’s also great to listen to for an ego-boost if you happen to be called Alan).
It was great to see Scott as a solo performer (and latterly a duet). Obviously as the front man of the Bar Stewards he’s well-versed in generating an atmosphere and bringing the crowd along with him, but he’s equally capable of doing this on his tod. This was illustrated with a ukulele driven singalong of Bohemian Rhapsody which worked a lot better than it should’ve done – including kazoo-driven replacements for some of the guitar solos. A really fun set, but writing it off as simply fun perhaps devalues the musical talent on show.
Also newish song (Holding out for the) Festival Heroes is a work of genius (it’s on that live album linked above).
Then on to the headliners – via a soundcheck as their epic 10+ hour journey from Cornwall had made a pre-gig soundcheck non-viable. Once ready they launched straight into One Fine Day and then continued a pretty much relentless assault of dance-inducing folky goodness – the room soon became rather warm and the urge to dance about transmitted from the front of the room right to the back. It’s also worth bigging up Jamie the stand-in bass player at this point – this was his first gig with them standing in for Lukas – and he did it with a bass with a suspicious number of extra strings.
As well as the whirling nearly-moshing numbers there was time for a bit of formal waltzing for Days of the Dance, synchronised swaying for Social Vertigo. The gig seemed over really quickly, to the point where watches were checked confusedly – but it indeed had been a solidly long set, but seemingly in no time Dollar was back on stage coaxing the crowd into calling for an encore, which was the frankly lovely Antiquated and the Arcane (there might have been some soppiness here, no comment!).
A splendid evening – whilst there was a great crowd and a cracking atmosphere it still saddens me to see nights like this still calling for ticket sales right up to the last minute and still not selling out. I can’t imagine there was better entertainment to be had in Barnsley for a mere tenner that night – and having taken a wrong turning and ended up in the middle of Tarn I certainly didn’t see anything that looked very appealing at all (except admittedly a dirty kebab shop as I was pretty hungry!).
The M18 being shut scuppered the planned route back to Thorne but after a diversion and an interminable amount of time in the 50 mph zone on the M1 we were eventually back home with Snotty snoozing in the passenger seat despite swearing she wouldn’t (ha!). A thoroughly awesome evening, if folk are prepared to travel from Hertfordshire, Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire then more of the folk of Barnsley really need to get their fingers out and support these events (much like we saw in Thorne before!).