I don’t do reviews…

25 02 2013

‘Allo ‘allo!

Hot on the heels of our trip to Paris, we headed up to Bradford on Saturday to visit our good friend Ricardo, and to meet up with the Duffy-half of The Fabulous Duffy Gibbons, the duo my other half (the Gibbons-half) plays with. They were playing at The Puzzle Hall Inn in Sowerby Bridge last night, at a ‘Beatitudes‘ event organised by Paul Tunnicliffe.

Now then. I don’t do reviews. But I do notice things, and decided to make little notes of things I noticed during the night to pop onto my blog. I also don’t do good photos, so I’ve included some bad ones instead. Standing up in front of a roomful of people at gigs to try and take photos is something I find rather embarassing (How big does my bum look? Is it obscuring the audience’s view?) – and I’m also a little scared to crouch down for that killer shot in case I either can’t get up again or topple over (which did happen once in a busy shop when I crouched down to inspect some bottom-shelf goodies and slowly and unstoppably toppled over sideways).

Anyway, back to the non-review.

The Puzzle Hall Inn is a delightful, proper pub in Sowerby Bridge, small but perfectly formed and offers a good selection of real ales and a busy schedule of live music and poetry events.

The evening was kicked off by Mr Tunnicliffe, who treated us to a couple of ditties before introducing Kathryn Luxford, whose wonderfully understated guitar playing and beautiful sweet voice delighted everyone in the room.

Next up was Tony Dyter, with his accordion and special shoe with a tambourine attached to its toe. He launched into Johnny Cash’s ‘Give My Love to Rose’ – which obviously went down very well with me – then gave us a wee toe-tapping instrumental. Always good to hear a bit of accordion – I tried learning to play it once but couldn’t control the bellows, so have a great respect for those who can…

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Then we experienced the anarchic beardiness of The Richard Harris Experience. Uniquely and beardily enjoyable, with hilarious inter-song (and sometimes mid-song) banter. Richard’s earnest face (with practice-beard) interspersed with cheeky toothy grins and the laid-back expressions of Harris (sporting a more experienced beard) complimented each other perfectly (or perhaps there was a similar expression of earnestness hidden under Harris’ more experienced beard?). Carrying on with the slight shoe theme of the evening, they ended their set with a song about 2 dollar shoes. I wonder if the tambourine shoe was a 2 dollar shoe? It did look rather battered. Or maybe the addition of the tambourine raised it well above the 2 dollar mark…

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Right then, now onto the bit I have to be a bit careful about as I don’t want to risk bringing warfare into the home by accidentally saying something that upsets the other half!

The last act of the evening was The Fabulous Duffy Gibbons, made up of bouzouki player John Duffy, and guitarist Jon Gibbons, who also writes all the songs.

On the subject of writing, I’m often a tad ashamed of my attempts at writing poetry when I listen to my other half’s lyrics. In the spirit of Cohen and Dylan, his words are pure poetical delight. It’s extremely annoying. He even has that story-telling-in-a-song ability that makes you need to listen to find out what happens next. Hmph.

Sadly, Mr Duffy was not treating the audience to his kilted knees that night, although he was wearing his secret smirk all night as he played.

Er. I’m not quite sure how to do this, so I’m going to list their set, with a few lyric-tasters and other comments… I told you I don’t do reviews…!

They opened with ‘Is making love just make believe?’, a lovely laid back starter. Incidentally, I must big up the Beatitudes audience at this point – these days it’s not often that you go to an intimate gig where the audience shuts up and listens, but at The Puzzle Hall Inn they did, all night. Perhaps a reason why they have such a good music scene?

Next came ‘Pretty Ones’ (Why do the pretty ones hurt the most?) with an unexpected scratchy-stringed intro from Mr Duffy.

Prior to the next song, they quipped that the last time they had played this venue together was in 1999 – they’ve been playing together since 1993, and according to Mr Duffy with not one rehearsal 😉

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Then came the deluded and divine ‘Gates of Paradise’, followed by ‘(Don’t leave it) Dying on the Vine’ (This’ll be my shout…).

A brief re-tuning interlude, with a jolly heckle of “That’s near enough for jazz!”, then the sublime ‘Carousel’ (How many more times…), so quiet and gentle (the song and the audience – top marks again to the audience for their respect).

Next up was a cover of ‘Norwegian Wood’. Sorry, The cover of Norwegian Wood, because you will never hear a better one. This is where the Gibbons strum-hand exceeds the speed of light. I’m not quite sure how his hand manages to pass the speed-of-sound barrier without the audience being flattened by a sonic-strum-boom.

And then – to quote Robert Smith talking about ‘Charlotte Sometimes’ – came the most perfect pop single, ‘Boadicea’ (We could build a bridge in backstreet clover…).

Did I mention the audience were singing along?

Upping the tempo, they launched into ‘Cool, Calm and Collected’ next – definitely cool, thoroughly collected, and decidedly not calm! (I have learned to laugh it off…)

Enquiring about a faint rumbling coming from one of the speakers, I’m told by someone that a flux capictor is going, but no-one has a sonic screwdriver to fix it.

Next up was ‘Jesus Junkie’ (Monkey see monkey do…), and mass jubilation erupted at the sudden kazoo solo (with added mouth trumpet from Mr Duffy) with a very classy aprés solo pause for Mr Gibbons to replace said kazoo neatly in his top pocket before continuing with the song.

Then – hurrah! – ‘It’s a Long Hard Road We Ride’ (Down upon your knees with the tweezers, looking for a long blonde hair…), with full-on audience participation. Yay!

To close the set, another cover – ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ (do I need to say it’s by The Rolling Stones?). I got a bit carried away watching the audience’s head-nods as the tempo increased, and became rather concerned in a few cases that said heads might fall off. I also got a bit worried that Mr Gibbons’ hand was going to fly off due to excess strumming, and wondered if anyone in the audience would field it should the need arise. Thankfully all heads and hands remained in place.

An ovation from the audience, and an encore, laid back and mellow, the beautiful ‘Out of the Blue’ (I feel a danger to my soul…).

Thus ended an evening of perfect entertainment from all who played. Big thanks to The Puzzle Hall Inn for being such a lovely little venue, and to Mr Tunnicliffe for organising the whole Beatitudes thang. And of course to Ricardo for his impeccable hospitality, and for driving us (and the gear) to and from the gig.

If you ever find yourself in Sowerby Bridge, pop into the pub for a couple, and if you get the chance to see any of the musicians I’ve mentioned, or to pop along to a Beatitudes event, you won’t be disappointed…

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