All’s well at Birdwell..
Our original plan for Birdwell was to head up to Sam and Matt’s in Ludo and then taxi in, which would have undoubtedly been ace, but since we have plans today back in the Midlands it just made more sense to drive. Allowing for the not-particularly-bad Friday night M1 traffic meant we made it up there in good time, so parked up and went for a wander around Birdwell – a place I must admit I never knew existed!
The Travellers Inn clearly designed for eaters – as we popped in for a couple of soft drinks to pass the time one of the waitresses stood by our table like a hawk to whisk our glasses away. The food did look good mind, even if the welcome was frosty! Rather than endure another round of that we headed down to the venue, what I guess is an old social /working man’s club – bar at the front, venue at the back. The venue wasn’t open yet but the bar was.
It gave us a chance to have a sit and a natter with Rob and Russ, and admire Russ’ new tattoo that Ken has been working on before eventually being permitted into the venue room. What a room too, nestling back there is a big stage, dancefloor and tabled area along with a bar – slightly reminiscent of The Black Market Venue but without the head space (or balcony) – cracking space in there though, and for my non-audiophile ears at least a decent sound system,
Because Björn and his multiple personalities had another gig in Leeds that same evening, The Bar-Steward Sons of Val Doonican went up first. The usual suspects moved to the front but it looked a challenge to shift some of the rest of the audience at first! She’s From Dodworth kicked off the set, nobody ‘fessed up to being from there from what I could see when Scott asked, although a few nominated Sam to take the accolade!
Nando’s and Massage in a Brothel are both pretty anthemic – and that started to get people massing at the front a bit more. Ella and I had spotted Waggy in the corner so gone to watch the set from there. Walking in Man Piss never gets less funny for me, before almost nostalgia of (If I Could Punch a Face) It’d Be Justin Bieber’s. Alan shared one of his past relationship dramas with Since You’ve Been Ron before dashing to the newer songs with Bag For Life.
Before The Lady in Greggs Scott had asked about the possibility of some kind of Ferocious Dog style stacking. From our spot with Waggy I saw what looked like a conference starting off in the mosh pit area, I went to join them to see if I could help out only for Sam to ask to go up on my shoulders, so that’s what we did. Perhaps not the most elaborate of stacking routines ever seen (ha) but at least it showed we were paying attention if nothing else! From the photo I’m not sure whether Sam enjoyed it or not, haha!
Festival Heroes is fun, particularly when you can imagine people that fit the descriptions therein quite vividly! Then we were treated to a few straight cover versions, fairly unusual for a Doonicans gig, first up was a cover of The Wonderstuff’s Golden Green, then a switch to Alan on vocals for Fisherman’s Blues, and finally Björn on vocals for The Levellers’ The Riverflow. A nice little interlude between the comically re-written songs we’ve become accustomed to.
They finished up the set with the raucous trio of Kanye West is a Cockwomble, charted Björn’s battle with the devil with The Devil Went Down to Barnsley and finished up with Jump Arahnd – I wondered whether Scott would go for the crowd surf, but he did – well, a crowd surf/carry – the barrier infront of the bar proved an amusing challenge but he made it to the rear of the venue and back again in time to finish up on the dance floor for the last jumping around section. A fun set!
Next on stage was Andy Shades – a new act on me, an unassuming chap with a guitar took to the stage and was introduced. What became abundantly apparent was this guy is quite a rapid strummer – I bet he gets through a few guitar strings! His first song, Drones, was a really nice protest folk song lamenting the kind of society that thrives on war or atrocities like those at Orgreave to keep folk in line. Oddly it morphed into the James Bond theme at the end!
I missed the title of the second song having a quick natter with Dan, but it might be something like Criminals Look Just Like Him (but then it might not be!). Andy is a very rhythmic guitarist (which ya kinda need to be when you’re performing solo), and his combination of rasping and melodic vocals cut through brilliantly. He’s a performer I’ll be watching out for.
Monsters lambasted the greedy society we have become, how we’ve blurred the boundaries between wants and needs – pointing the finger at each of us. Not an unreasonable argument, we are an odd species in that we’re sentient enough to understand there’s enough resources on Earth for us all to live sustainably, but of course, that gets in the way of the minority amassing most of the wealth. We are quite silly really.
The next song was dedicated to Donald Trump, again no title but the lyric of ‘the world is much bigger than the states’ pretty much spell out the theme, this was followed up by another song lamenting greed (‘there’s no happiness in greed’) – he finished up his set with a re-lyriced and rearranged version of Feel Like I’m Fixin’ To Die. Cracking little set – Andy needs a Facebook page for me to link to though! Haha!
Then of course Ferocious Dog were on, the intro music boomed through the PA, Ella kindly agreed to make some notes whilst I went to get smashed around the moshpit for a bit of a workout, so unusually I actually have a set list since relying on either my memory or sneaking a photo of the ones on the stage is pretty unreliable at the best of times! They kicked in with Gallows Justice and what was it was immediately obvious this was going to be a ‘gentle’ mosh. Which suited me for today.
Poor Angry and Young was next (lobster claws at the ready), before the pace lessened for Verse For Lee into The Glass (Ella notes technical difficulties in the violin department here, I do recall seeing Dom tinkering with Dan’s pedals at one point but I forget at which point!). During Lee’s Tune it was great to see an older lady getting in and amongst it in the mosh pit. As noted, whilst there were plenty of regulars there, it was definitely a more chilled evening.
Crime and Punishment gave us the chance for a combination of line-dancing and what looked like riverdance from Dean, then it was Unconditional whilst Ellis swapped out his banjo for his guitar ready for Too Late. With Nicki up on Paul’s shoulder’s I wasn’t sure there was headroom for a triple stack, Dean had other ideas and indeed managed to get them both up without going through the ceiling. This was followed up of course by Freeborn John.
Mick was the board, I took up the role of knee-holder as Dean got up – it was a bit of a lop-sided arrangements of heights holding up Mick so it wasn’t the most stable platform – but Dean stayed up (although based the lights overhead a couple of times!), he must’ve been not quite visible to Ken for his teleprompter duties though, as there were lyrical oopsies in there (not that it really matters!).
Ruby Bridges was next, and saw Louise enter the moshpit fray clearly clocking it wasn’t quite as frenetic as it can be, she must’ve enjoyed it as she kept coming back! Lyla sounded like it had more reverb than usual added to the vocals (including Ellis’ roar), there was lots of rhythmic swaying from the crowd! On The Rocks was up next to pick up the pace and then Marikana Massacre (increasingly one of my favourite live tracks).
Criminal Justice was aptly, given the area, dedicated to the Orgreave veterans and folk who were at the Beanfield – Dave was up on Paul’s shoulders, we had a bit of a verse repeat in here, there was a debate about this afterwards as to who went into another verse. I’ve no idea – they’re good lyrics – worth hearing twice! Meanwhile a lady with purple hair who’d been moshing with us was taking the Lee Bonsall Memorial Fund bucket around (sadly I didn’t have any change!).
For Quiet Paddy Ella notes that Ken came in early, confusing Ellis – I have a vague memory of the fiddle coming in early too then coming back later – Hell Hounds was dedicated to Jay, and ended with Dave being given some kind of horizontal bumps. I’m not sure whether him being a bit prone on the floor was down to acting out the ‘take me down’ part of the lyrics or down to exhaustion, haha! Even though it was a pretty chilled moshpit it was a warm room and tiring!
With the set winding down, Freethinker was up next – Ella again spotted that the fiddle seemed to be active when Dan wasn’t moving, does he use a loop pedal to layer his contributions? Answers on a postcard! The main set was finished up with Mairi’s Wedding Part II – a suitably frenetic finish, and the chance for a couple of ‘1, 2… 1,2,3,4’s!” – always a good thing!
They weren’t getting away without an encore though – and of course it was Slow Motion Suicide. I lofted Dave up on my shoulders – I’ve done this before and struggled part way through, this time wasn’t so bad at all! Les kicked in with the guitar off stage then gradually the band reappeared. Meanwhile Nicki was up on Paul’s shoulders, Mick was up on Dean’s and Rob was up on Simon – good also to see Jethro down at the front too – and he, Dave and Ken sharing a ‘fist bump’ at the end.
Cracking gig – great venue and sound, quality people and some belting performances. A thoroughly fun night. We navigated our way around the half-an-hour or more of goodbyes before heading back to the car and driving home. Big thanks to Ella for making notes for Ferocious Dog’s set, and for the slow-motion mosh-pit videos I’ve dotted around this post too. Interesting idea – we might have to revisit that on another occasion!