The happy bus pulls into Nottingham..

Mad Dog Mcrea are right up there in the increasingly populous pantheon of bands I absolutely adore to see live.  So it was a bit surprising that I hadn’t registered they were playing up the road until earlier this week when Dan posted about it on Facebook!  Luckily with no other plans I obtained myself a ticket for The Rescue Rooms, which made up for Ella going to see them in Cambridge last night which I couldn’t really justify on a work night!

There was of course the extra bonus of support from not just The Outlines, but a bonus addition of The Star Botherers too.  With a relatively early curfew it was an early start, so I got myself to venue in good time to find Adam, Hollie and Mark in the bar.  I really like going to The Rescue Rooms, it was a trip there to see Mark Chadwick years ago that first put me on to Ferocious Dog, and that in turn has led me to countless other awesome musical diversions – not least all of this evening’s entertainment!

Lots of other friendly faces in attendance too – although not as many as I’d have thought, even given it was a weeknight.  The Star Botherers got us underway to a room still filling with folks, kicking off with Just Around The Corner and then into Ringing in Sick, Bart joking that his songs were all about his disdain for work – dedicating the latter for folks who had work in the morning (cheers, Bart!), then gleefully pointing out he didn’t (bastard!).

I seem to have made Dave’s face disappear. Sorry Dave.

One Inch Death Punch got an outing – by the time Star Wars Bride kicked in there were a fair few people in the room, and it was good to look around and see them grinning at, let’s face it, is a bloody funny song!  Dave chucked in some particularly spectacular backing vocals at the beginning!  My National Trust carried on the more overtly comedic theme (of course with a more political underpinning) and the set was finished off with Bad Guys, of course, which went down very well with the assembled crowd, especially Dave’s freeform bass riffs during the talky bits!

Cracking set – good to hear them on a sound system considerably louder than I normally hear them on.  Which left The Outlines to get themselves set up – they had their new album out on the merch stand so hopefully the pre-orders are in the post by now too, really looking forward to hearing it!

The first thing I’ve written about The Outlines on my notes page is ‘Kyle is very perky tonight!’ – he was in a very banterous mood compared to when I’ve seen them before – they kicked off with Waiting and were sounding bloody huge out of the Rescue Rooms sound system.  I’m not sure how to categorise them – somewhere between metal and grunge but with more melodic singing interspersed with shouting and lots of backing vocals from both bassist and drummer.  It sounds bloody good though.

Static led into She Don’t Know – which led to a strange revelation that apparently each song was about a different variant of illicit drug.. I think I might’ve missed an injoke somewhere there! Ha.  Calm Down was anything but calm, and they were certainly getting a good reaction from the increasingly busy crowd, following up with Streets of England and into Sound of Rain.  With time marching on the intervals shortened and they ran into Concrete which was dedicated to Roger who Kyle had just spotted in the crowd.

The set finished up with Vanilla Poison – a tight set from an increasingly confident appearing band, definitely ones to keep an eye out for.  As I mentioned, there’s a new album out now – looking forward to getting hold of it for a listen!  So we’d already had a considerable musical treat before the main act even took the stage – there was a bit of stage tinkering to do giving folk a chance to natter, get drinks or take a comfort break, but before long the stage was set for the headliners.

Now with Mad Dog Mcrea I have an ‘essential’ four songs that would be present in a perfect set – I’m happy to report that without even having to shout out for them they all made an appearance, I’ll leave you to guess which they might be should you want to!  They kicked off straight away with Mad Dog Coll – telling the actually quite chilling tale of an Irish gangster in New York but in an irresistibly danceable manner.  That’s a story that could form its own blog post although the song does a pretty succinct job of covering the tale!

A Longer Road was next dedicated to some particularly far travelling fans who’d made the trip, and then into Heart of Stone – up against an earlyish curfew it was clear the band were keen to cram as many songs as they could into the evening, no complaints from me!  They are an amazingly tight group of musicians – Mick’s guitar is surprisingly quiet but with the fiddle and whistles overlayed and the bass and drums driving the rhythm it works amazingly well.

Raggle Taggle Gypsy saw Tom bundle into me for a bit of a mini-mosh, before they moved into an instrumental jig (that I think might have been Rose in the Heather but I might be wrong!), then it was Sugar Water Sunday which I was going to describe as new – but I did that over a year ago so I’ll just say newish.  You know what Mad Dog Mcrea need to do?  Put another album out!  I was a bit sad to go cruise the merch desk to find I already had all their CDs (or maybe reissue Away With The Faeries as I don’t have that one, ha!).

During Whiskey Moon Mick was sharing his bottle of port with the crowd, and was delighted to get it back again – apparently that didn’t happen on previous nights.  And I know the bottle found its way to Ella in Cambridge the night before… ha!  Black Fly with it’s amazing build up, slow down and build up got the crowd jumping and singing along and then it was on the The Devil’s Cauldron at which point I was told off for making notes on my phone by a lass who presumably thought I was texting / Facebooking. Ha!

Johnny No Legs was introduced as a pirate song and again illicited a great response from the crowd, it was pretty amusing watching Dan use his flute as a telescope too (well it amused me!).  The beautiful Bees Wing was next, it was only marginally diminished by the squawking women who seemed excited by the song yet unable to listen to it without their jaws flapping – eventually they zoned out as we were swept away by the song – initially just Mick and his guitar, with Dan introducing whistles before the rest of the band rejoined for the epic finale.

Couldn’t Have Come at a Better Time was next followed by another rhythmic jig, then the drums and bass heavy intro to Pikey Killed My Goldfish kicked in whilst Mick had a quite guitar tuning session.  Am I Drinking Enough was greeted with “THIS IS MY SONG!” from a guy stood infront of me, who clearly had been drinking enough judging by his general state of balance, ha!  A surprise Devil Went Down to Georgia was next – I half expected Tom to pop up on stage in the guise of the Devil, but not this time.  Mick had changed the lyrics so it was fiddler Nicki taking on Satan rather than Johnny!

We were treated to another jig and then into Duck Street, and with time running out we were taken on a trip with the Happy Bus, that lovely hybrid of baltic/russian/irish sounding folk that you can’t help but move about to and singalong with the gratuitous ‘la la la’ bits.  All in all, a bloody splendid evening, could’ve only been made better by being on a Friday so I didn’t have to be up for work in a few hours, but it would’ve been more expensive too so maybe it’s not such a bad thing.

It was a shame the venue was only a third full at best, but it was a good responsive crowd – and it sounds like it was fuller than the night before.  I decided to break my ‘no more t-shirts for a while’ rule as they had a really cool looking one on offer, plus I wanted to be able to give them a bit of extra cash.  That just left a few goodbyes to be had with assorted folk before heading back to the car for the drive home.  I’m very glad indeed that I spotted the gig at the eleventh hour, I’d have been really kicking myself if I missed it!

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