I don’t often head to Bristol for gigs. Frustratingly the city has an incredible live music culture but it is so difficult to get to from Dorset. The journey is under 70 miles but it can easily take 3-hours to do the drive. In reality this rules out travelling to a gig and coming home the same night. The thought of driving 70 miles, late at night on some of the worst roads in the country doesn’t bear thinking about.
This was a gig that we almost didn’t go to because we are off on holiday on Monday but in the end the allure of a brilliant line-up and the prospect of meeting up with some great friends just before we go away proved too great.
After sorting our hotel and grabbing a bite to eat it was time to head off to the Seven Stars for a few pints before the music started. It was wonderful to see so many friends had made the trip and we were soon chatting and laughing together as we renewed old friendships and made new ones.
What a great line-up of artists the fleece had for us. The evening was kicked off by the irrepressible Doozer McDooze. You can’t help but love Doozer. His enthusiasm, sense of fun and clever lyrics bring a smile to every face in the room. Doozer’s song “I Don’t Wanna Go Home” has been adopted as a festival anthem by those of us who love grassroots festivals. Tonight Doozer brought the house down as every voice in the room joined in singing the anthem at the top of their voices.
You cannot fail to enjoy yourself when Doozer plays and so tonight proved once again. Doozer set the scene for a Kent invasion of the west country and laid the foundations for a fantastic evenings entertainment. Next up were another festival favourite act, Hobo Jones and The Junkyard Dogs.
I have lost count of the number of times I have seen the Hobo’s this year but they never fail to entertain. The “godfathers of Skunk” are so amusing with their blend of madcap covers interspersed with often self-deprecating humour. The jokes may be familiar but they never seem to lose their currency largely because the boys facial expressions and the audience reaction is enough to keep you laughing. Davey Malone is an expert at playing to the audience and as a result the performance always seems fresh.
That’s not to say that the Hobo’s can’t produce a moment that brings a lump to your throat. They did so last night with their version of “Fairytale Of New York” which was dedicated to Kirsty MacColl on the 15th Anniversary of her tragic death.
Next up on the night was another man of Kent the simply incredible Funke and The Two Tone Baby. Funke and Gaz Brookfield have just been out on tour together and in their journeys up and down the country they sold out over half of the dates, quite a feat for two independent artists.
Funke is in my opinion one of the best songwriters I have ever heard, his lyrics are complex and occasionally surreal. His mix of guitar, harmonica and voice and creative use of loop pedals creates a unique soundscape rooted in the blues but thoroughly modern and absorbing. The crowd were bouncing throughout Funke’s set and by the end we were all as exhausted as he was. The mild weather, a packed house and the energy coming from the stage ensured that by the end of his set Funke had the crowd dripping with sweat as we all jumped and bounced along with him.
I was so hot by the end of Funke’s set that I had to get outside for a sit down and some fresh air. Whilst I was outside Gaz Brookfield opened his set with his now traditional “land Pirates Life.” On dashing back inside I found that the venue was absolutely rammed, so packed that I couldn’t get anywhere near close enough to take any decent photographs.
As any fan of Brookfield knows Gaz doesn’t know how to give anything less than 100% and tonight was no exception. As a rule Brookfield plays solo or with Ben Wain on fiddle but tonight we were treated to a full band performance as Gaz was joined by The Company Of Thieves.
Gaz’s performance as always was flawless and we were treated to an exceptional set as we were treated to favourites like Under The Table, Diabetes Blues, Ode To Ozzy and the Ballad Of Elizabeth Duke and Godless Man.
Brookfield’s performances are always high energy and entertaining. He is always an incredibly engaging performer but I thought the addition of a full band added something to the show. Of course the addition of a band is always going to add depth and vibrancy to the sound but there was more to it that just that.
I felt that Gaz enjoyed sharing the stage, the interaction between Gaz and the members of the band added an additional sense of theatre.
I am delighted to have made the trip to Bristol, I enjoyed a quite brilliant evenings entertainment among friends and kindred spirits, what more could you possibly wish for?