You couldn’t organise a…
… piss up in a brewery! Well, it turns out that’s exactly what The Leylines can do for their ‘northern’ album launch party in Burton on Trent. The Tower Brewery is a superb setting for a gathering like this – walking there having taken in a little of the ambitious pub crawl undertaken by the more hardy drinkers felt like the set to a football hooligan film, stark, industrial, not particularly safe feeling – then you’re let in to a veritable grotto.
The stage is right by the door, there’s a balcony, an intriguing spiral staircase – and perhaps best of all a bar at the back selling lovely ales for just £2.50 a pint. On the to work on side the sound was a bit of a challenge certainly initially – whether it really improved or the beer kicked in, who knows? And there were plenty of familiar folk already there and yet to arrive too – one of my favourite new venues in a while for its charm and originality. An actual piss up in a brewery, with some music too!
Some technical problems has delayed the actual album being available as planned – but as a special bonus Brian Stone had his EP ready to go – I’ve already had a sneak peak of it, and it’s a lovely collection of songs – I’ll write more about it at a later date when I’ve gotten to know them better. More pressingly (huh, pressingly, press CDs, EPs, Albums, geddit?).. the aforementioned Mr Stone was the first act up on stage for the evening.
To think how Brian has developed as a performer beyond campfires is pretty awesome – there’s a definite swagger and comfort now on a stage, which is ace. He brushed off the slightly ropey sound issues like water falls from the back of a duck, launching into The Levellers’ The Boatman (and promptly forgetting the words – oops! Plenty of help was on hand in the crowd to steer him back on course), then some of his own songs – the lovely Barrow Downs started the original material.
When I heard a pre-mastered version of this I was convinced it must be a cover, it’s that ace (I think that’s a compliment – it’s meant to be), then onto Quiet Anarchist which I think he said was inspired by his Dad. The next song was the one that goes ‘And the wiiiiiiiiinnnnd blows high! Aaaaand the wiiiind blows low!” that I’m not sure the name of, then it was time for Mark to be summoned for some ‘dad dancing’ at the front for the song he inspired one day.
He finished off a fun set with his already-nearly-anthemic Life Begins @ 50 and Why Is All The Rum Gone?! (another song with a healthy amount of inspiration from Mark!). (Also accompanied by the crowd pinching a swig of Brian’s bottle of Morgan’s Spiced that was tantalisingly placed on the edge of the stage!). After the set he settled by his EPs to sell a good number to the crowd, including me! I couldn’t recommend it enough – if you’re lucky enough to buy one in person from a drunken Brian you might even get some abuse scrawled on it too (he wrote a nice note on mine!).
Next up was The Bar-Steward Sons of Val Doonican (or The Barstards according to the running order, ha!). The sound issues were much improved for them, despite Scott’s protestations – they launched into She’s From Dodworth and then into Massage in a Brothel. I don’t think there were many folks in the crowd unfamiliar with them, so you didn’t get to see the delighted ‘first timer’ look, but there was the bonus of a lot of enthusiastic singing along and dancing as a nice alternative!
Nandos was sung without the usual subtle replacement of a mild swear word – oooh – and then everyone enthusiastically sang raucously along to (If I Could Punch a Face) It’d be Justin Bieber’s. Always a highlight of a Bar-Stewards set for me is The Zipper – Scott did a remarkable job of holding it together during the ‘ambulance noise’ bit, which was a little bit sad in some ways. This was followed up by Alan recalling his tragic tale leading into Since You’ve Been Ron.
We were then treated to a new song from the forthcoming album T’Chronicle (for which the pre-order deadline is looming – and pre-order is the only way to get it!), I’m going to assume it’s called Kids Just Wanna Go Pub and is based around Girls Just Wanna Have Fun – coupled with the new song we heard on the Purrple Peeple Eater at Rockstock (assuming it makes the cut!), it’s shaping up to be a belter of a new album – so make sure you don’t miss out on the chance to have it.
The set was rounded off with crowd favourites Lady in Greggs, The Devil Went Down to Barnsleh and a memorable finish of Jump Arahnd. With the bar being right at the back of the venue Scott legged it there (via climbing up on the balcony) to be carried back with his pint. Cracking set – made all the better by a CD shaped present Scott had for me of a recording of Rasputin he did for me on the back of the Rockstock fundraising. It’s bloody amazing, and apparently mine to do as I will with. I’m tempted to horde it like a miser. Ha!
And then for the main act – having heard Steve’s croaky voice (they’d played their southern launch party the night before in Weston-Super-Mare the night before) before the gig he pulled something out the bag to still be able to sing with gusto. Let It Go kicked off proceedings with dancing and singing from the off from an increasingly well-lubricated crowd, The Reasons kept the pace before being brought back down by the lovely melodic Save Your Souls.
I spotted Addie standing on a table back toward the bar (for reasons you’d need to ask him!) so popped over to climb up and give him a comforting hug before heading back to the fray as the energy was kicked in again with Run Away. As Own Worst Enemy rung out my watch vibrated to tell me I’d been having a super active day – ha, who said pub crawls and gigging was bad for you? I well and truly smashed the recommended 10,000 daily steps on Saturday – and we only really flying visited the pub crawl!
Epic instrumental Stone Circle was up next (whether t’was part one or both parts I’ve yet to be able to work out!). You’ve Changed followed (coincidentally the name Brian has chosen for his EP!) and then All That We’ve Got. During this song Mark had a strange dance routine going on which involved him lunging whilst holding the front of the stage – spurred on by him having Addie on his shoulders earlier I jokingly slung a leg over him on his next downward lunge. I should learn really.
I spent Queen and Country (and awesome song) eye-to-eye with Steve as Mark was determined to accept the challenge I hadn’t really intended to issue! Oops. Sorry for the bad shoulder Mark, although Addie is probably partially to blame too! Sorry My Friends followed and then the anthem that tantalisingly talks of festival season (so close!) that is Sat In A Field led into a raucous finish of Things I Know, Gotta Get Out of Here and finally Run for Cover, seeing the support acts joining on stage to provide backing vocals.
A cracking evening of great entertainment, great drinks and great friends – the countdown is well and truly on for The Leylines album landing on our doormats which I can’t wait for. I can’t wait to see how the songs I’ve come to know and love translate to the studio experience – and given the folk they worked with on production and mastering, it should be amazing! If you want to catch The Leylines on another northern(ish) excursion they are playing with Under A Banner in Wolverhampton on Friday.