Gig review: BELLOWHEAD – Royal Albert Hall, London, 20 April 2014

Amazing to think Bellowhead have been going for ten years now as they chose the regal surroundings of the Royal Albert Hall to celebrate their tenth birthday and bless them they invited all of their fans along. It was a near sell out too, helped I am sure by the word of mouth spreading about the band’s stage craft and music, plus some airplay of ’10,000 Miles’ on daytime BBC Radio 2.

They played songs of each of their four albums to date plus their debut EP, ‘E.P.Onymous’ and a real treat, two new songs of their upcoming album ‘Revival’ due out on June 23 on Island Records.

The set was an upbeat one, albeit not always lyrically as the band do like a good gruesome tale like the grim ‘Black Beetle Pies’, about a lady whose pies would give Sweeney Todd’s a run for their money… The charismatic Jon Boden may not have a lot of between song banter as he seems to save it all for the songs, as he showed on ‘Fakenham Fair’ and he really gets into the jigs and reels when playing the fiddle.

An added treat was Steeleye Span’s Maddy Prior joining the band early on for ‘Copshawholme Fair’ and she popped up for a couple of other songs later in the set including their ‘hit’ single ’10,000 Miles’. That got a rousing reception and rightly so.They had four dancers too for some of the instrumentals strutting their stuff at the front of the stage and it added to the whole party feel of the evening.

The whole band play a multitude of instruments with percussionist Pete Flood quite literately hitting anything that makes a noise including a frying pan! Benji Kirkpatrick I am sure is a rock guitar hero in disguise as he throws metal approved guitar poses and facial expressions whilst err playing the mandolin or bouzouki.

For the first encore we were treated to two new songs, ‘Gosport Nancy’ and ‘Let Her Run’ bode well for the new album both being hummable after a first listen always a good sign. The second lot of encores were ‘London Town’ with the whole audience on its feet and a rousing ‘New York Girls’. The frantic instrumental ‘Frog’s Legs and Dragon’s Teeth’ closed the evening in style and we even had flashbombs, very rock ‘n’ roll.

This is the third time I have seen Bellowhead live and I’d urge anyone who loves upbeat, good time live music to get along and see this band as they are simply amazing live, from the musicianship though to the songs and good times vibes they give off the stage. One of the best live bands around currently, no contest.

Review by Jason Ritchie

Setlist: Prickle Eye Bush/The Rochdale Coconut Dance/Copshawholme Fair/Jack Robinson/Jordan/Flash Company/Hopkinson’s Favourite/Fakenham Fair/Roll Her Down The Bay/Trip to Bucharest/The Flight of the Folk Mutants Parts 1&2/Whiskey is the Life Of Man

Interval

Yarmouth Town/Cold Blows the Wind/Cross-Eyed and Chinless/Black Beetle Pies/Betsy Baker/10,000 Miles Away/Roll the Woodpile Down

Encore 1: Let Her Run/Gosport Nancy

Encore 2: London Town/Sloe Gin Set/New York Girls/Frogs Legs & Dragon’s Teeth


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