Tuesday 9 April 2019

Hue & Cry - St John's Church, Farncombe - April 5th, 2019

Hold on, read that again... A concert in a church 15 miles from here? By The Blow Monkeys?

OK, so that's (sort of) how I came to be sitting in a church, on a wooden pew, listening to Hue & Cry, now just Glaswegian brothers Pat and Gregory Kane, on an early April evening.

I'd had an eye on seeing The Blow Monkeys for a while and an alert popped up for them appearing at the Church in a small village on the edge of Godalming in November 2019. The price was right and it was local, so I bought a ticket.

From that purchase I started following events at St John's Church in Farncombe and soon spotted that Hue & Cry were playing here in April, so I bought a ticket and here I was.

Now, lest you think this is a defunct Church repurposed as a club/venue, not a bit of it, it's a proper working church, earning a few quid on the side and delivering the great acoustics you often get in churches to the audience of less 'spiritual' (Two Marxists in this case!) performers.

The venue was all seater for this and sold out. Most people were pretty old (I'm mid '50s and I think a good chunk of the audience was older than me, although one of the group of women sharing my pew commented that 'They sound just like they did when I was at school', putting here at 1east 10 years younger than me!), but it was clearly popular and some were, equally clearly, hardcore fans.

It started early (I guess an early curfew is one of the conditions for holding such events in the church), but being 30 minutes drive from home that was no hardship and there was no cringe-inducing support act (with dreadful sound levels) to suffer either.

At 8PM the two brothers appeared.

From their heyday as two bright eyed, curly haired lads, their appearance now is more akin to a couple of Mitchell Brothers lookalikes, but fortunately Pat's voice (always the defining element of the band, I thought) has stood up incredibly well.

The tour was billed as a 30th anniversary celebration of the Bitter Suite album and the first part of the evening featured most of the tracks from that album, including "Mother Glasgow", the Kate Bush song "The Man With the Child In His Eyes" (which seems to make more sense when a man sings it, but I never like Kate Bush that much), The Robert Wyatt/Elvis Costello song "Shipbuilding" and a number of others, before reaching the massive hit that was 'Looking for Linda'.

Pat (and to a lesser degree Gregory on electric piano) chatted away humorously between songs, explaining their strict recording policy ("If you're not recording all your favourite songs and sticking them on YouTube, we want to know why!") and some of the inspirations for the songs.

The sound was good and Pat's voice really did sound clear and distinctive as I recall it doing so in their heyday (I'm sure, too, I have a more recent 'live' recording of them, but I can't find it!)

After 9 tracks (I don't know why they didn't do all the tracks, maybe some are hard to deliver as a duo or they just don't rate them anymore) there was an interval (A bottle of Doombar, ordered before, awaited me out in the side room at a refreshingly un-Gig like price!) and then we were back for a hodge-podge of hits and favourites.

This included the hits, 'Ordinary Angel' and 'Labour of Love' (sadly one of my favourites 'Violently' was left out) as well as some more recent songs, including one (or more) from an album released a year ago.

The de rigeur encore (Take that, Brexiteers! ;) ) was but a single song, 'Stars Crash Down', where we all got to sing 'Building a republic of love'.

To be honest, I never enjoy gigs where I have to sit down as much as standing ones, but this gig suited listening on the whole, rather than jiggling about (I can't call what I do dancing with any credibility), and I did enjoy it.

The pews did feel a bit hard after a while though. The chap in front of me must've been a regular as he'd brought a cushion with him!

I hope, though, that the Blow Monkeys will be a standing event - They need jiggling around to! ETA ARGHHHH - Stupidly I booked a holiday the same time, so I won't be getting to see the Blow Monkeys in 2019 after all!

Mother Glasgow
The Man With the Child in His Eyes (Kate Bush cover)
Shipbuilding(Robert Wyatt cover)
Rolling Home
Peaceful Face
Looking for Linda
Just Say You Love Me
My Salt Heart
Headin' for a Fall
It Happened Here
I Refuse
Labour of Love
Ordinary Angel

Stars Crash Down