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Author Topic: Demon Barbers Live 2005 - a review  (Read 8575 times)
Sir Robert Peel
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« on: October 16, 2005, 05:32:23 PM »

Trades Club, Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire.

We took the 'scenic route' to Hebden Bridge through the mill-towns of Rawtenstall, Bacup and Todmorden. This region is just a few miles from the border of the county of Greater Manchester, but a different world entirely. My ears popped as we climbed and wound our way up to the top of the Pennines, and we slowed to a walking pace as the car was engulfed by low clouds and obstructed by the ugliest, stupidest, death-wishing sheep in the history of sheep-rearing. The blighters surrounded my vehicle, balefully bleating:
'Heathcliff - is that you Heathcliff?'
'Cathy - I'm over here, lying in the middle of the road waiting to be hit by a car.'
'Wait for me, Heathcliff, I think I'll join you.'

(Actually, I could have imagined that bit of the journey.)

Hebden Bridge is a well-kept secret of vibrant restaurants, proper pubs and clubs, and a shopaholic's paradise. It's a place where you go to buy vintage clothes, antiques, to see new artists and sculptors exhibit their work, and where the Trades Club keeps Live Music alive. It's bohemian, it's got it's New-Age tendencies, and it's a place where folk musicians get an enthusiastic audience.

In the past year, your correspondent had bought three tickets to see the Demon Barbers and the Demon Barbers Roadshow, but important matters of state had kept him away from the gigs. Described as 'Electric Acoustic' or 'Ethnic English Trad Rock', I was intrigued by the labels.

They play acoustic instruments and traditional songs with the added oomph of a superlative rhythm section of assured drums and heart-stopping bass.

Front of stage are two dancers in micro-minis and clogs, waiting for the intro. I watch their steps closely as the night progresses. I'd seen them on the Radio 2 Folk Awards, dancing to Bellowhead and alongside some rapper chappies. They were described as cloggers but I was convinced that they were Irish Dancing. I'd been dragged along to Irish Dancing classes in my youth, so I wanted to examine closely the steps and arrangements of Tiny Taylor and Fiona Bradshaw. Their ankles were fluid, they were sure-footed, but the dances were like nothing I'd seen. They were borrowing from the Irish and English Clogging tradition, but re-inventing it.

 Eat your heart out, Beyonce. 

The enthralling and charismatic Bryony Griffiths was on fiddle and vocals and her performance captivated me. She sang an ancient Ballad called 'A Noble Riddle Wisely Expounded' and left me astonished with her passion, her energy, her innovative vocals and fiddle-playing.

Move over, Norma - Bryony Griffiths is the young pretender to your title. Yes, I've got a new pin-up girl, and I can't take my eyes off her as she moves across the stage.

Over to my left is Damien Barber. He looks like a Rugby League player. All in black, with muscles on his spit, his hair is beaded and there's a ruddy great big tattoo on his bicep. He's cheery, cheeky and dry. Ladies swoon as he stands with one foot on the monitor, working his button accordion, and seducing them with that Norfolk accent of his.

How come the straw-chewing yokels like Knightley, Beer, Downes and Barber appeal to the girls while debonair, sophisticated urban warriors like your truly gets Lady Peel?

Damien Barber's voice is striking, with natural vibrato, and assuring confidence.

He introduces Will Hampson on melodean and harmonica as a Morris Dancer. Yes, a blimmin' Morris Dancer. He talks of Morris Dancing without apology or embarrassment, and in fact, speaks with pride about that erstwhile, unfathomable and unfashionable movement. Will has matinee-idol good looks and the physique of an athlete, and there's more sighing from the ladies in my party.

In the past couple of months, I have had to review my stance on MorrisDancing. I used to think it belonged to the province of pot-bellied blokes, but I've since witnessed performances that have challenged my stereo-types. Swarb Aid Southwest, organised by Phil Beer, introduced me to the rip-roaring Great Western Morris and now I am faced with lean, mean, muscular blokes with more testosterone than you could shake a stick at, and wonder at my ignorance.

What about the songs, you may ask? Ah, how can I begin to describe them? Let me put it like this....

Do you remember hearing folk-rock for the first time? It might have been Richard Thompson and Dave Swarbrick duelling, Trevor Lucas singing 'Polly on the Shore' or Sandy Denny singing 'Tam Lin'? How did you feel when Steeleye Span assaulted your ear-drums or Martin Carthy sang 'The Lowlands of Holland' and 'High Germany' If your heart leapt at those sounds then you'll know how I felt hearing the DeeBees, live, for the first time.

There was a full moon rising as we made the journey back to Manc-land. The mist had cleared and we stopped at the highest point on the moors, to take in the air and drink in the sheer loveliness of England at night. And it was breath-taking. Before us was Oldham and Rochdale. Behind us was Burnley. In the far-off distance was the shining beacon that is Manchester. There were also some rather inferior little Yorkshire hamlets - probably Halifax and Leeds - but we'll say no more of them.

The sheep gathered round us - blimmin' ugly, gangly brutes with sticky out ears and the look of Wayne Rooney. I was reflective and pensive.

So this was Ethnic English Electric Trad Acoustic Rock, was it? Whatever it was, it was exciting, youthful and had bags of attitude. Like the Punks of the seventies, it shouted out: 'What you staring at? If you don't like it then shove off.'

I liked that.


Photo by Chris Bates

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« Last Edit: October 19, 2005, 08:06:25 PM by Sir Robert Peel » Logged
Chris
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« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2005, 06:12:06 PM »

I wanted to get a close look at Tiny Taylor and Fiona Bradshaw, and I wasn't disappointed

Oh, Fiona's got married, I assume....they're sisters, you know?

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Photo by Chris bates

Was I there, Sir Bob....must have been a good night as I can't remember a thing about it!

The photo was taken in Chipping Norton
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Nick
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« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2005, 05:18:53 PM »

Excellent review Sir Bob  Smiley

Did you see them with the Black Swan Rapper troupe?

Footstomps and Somersaults from guys with swords.



They stomped in the Cellar Bar at the Oxford Folk Festival last year. The ceiling is only 6ft 6in yet they were still gutsy enough to somersault in there, with feet missing the roof by inches  Shocked

Dramatic. Worth it!

Cheers

Nick
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« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2005, 05:31:10 PM »

They do this in the dark, under UV light too.... Grin Shocked Undecided

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Sir Robert Peel
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« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2005, 05:08:37 PM »

I've heard from a reliable source that the Demon Barbers Roadshow have been asked to submit a video/DVD to the Olympic Committee.  The concept of EthnicEnglish Dancing as an opener to the Games is a distinct possibility - and they are could be no better ambassadors.

I hope they are commissioned to wow us.


Peel
« Last Edit: October 19, 2005, 08:04:27 PM by Sir Robert Peel » Logged
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