For a Tuesday night this gig, postponed since whenever due to you know what, was pretty busy.
First up, Adam Ross (of Randolph’s Leap fame) gave us a selection of new and old songs on his acoustic guitar and several moothies. There were a couple about his new rural location (barmy neighbours and whatnot), one about maybe not wanting to have kids (yet), and his ode to opticians everywhere – all songs had the usual mix of wistfulness, tunefulness and wit, things which make him such joy to see live. He admitted (after a chord fluff) that it was a bit rusty but was obviously cheered by the warm reception he received.
BM knew rather less about the next act Paper Beat Scissors, originally from Burnley, England, but now resident in Canada, and on tour with The Burning Hell for this jaunt which has taken them through Europe and the UK. The songs, performed on acoustic guitar with some vocal and instrumental double-tracking, were emotional and showed off a very powerful and somewhat unique voice. There were shades of maybe John Martyn, certainly Nick Drake and possibly Peter Gabriel in the singing and music – interesting if maybe not quite BM’s cup of tea.
BM has been waiting for a few years to witness The Burning Hell live, ever since hearing their track ‘Amateur Rappers’… The core of the band is Mathias Kom on guitar vocals plus Ariel Sharratt on bass/sax/stylophone. Operating tonight as a full band four-piece, with Kelly on keyboard/guitar/bass and Jake on drums/bass, they played a selection of their idiosyncratic and at times hilarious garage-rock schtick – and this audience loved it.
There were old tracks (the afore-mentioned ‘Amateur Rappers’, new tracks like ‘Bird Queen…’) and some interesting oddities (‘The Robots vs Mrs Patel’) along the way, but the main thing was that this was just sheer entertainment.
Mixing in musical influences which span from The Velvet Underground through They Might Be Giants, Talking Heads, Camper Van Beethoven and Barenaked Ladies, along with some Leonard Cohen mournfulness, plus seriously quirky wordplay and great musicianship, it is impossible not to dislike the overload of verbiage from Mathias, taking in everything from global catastrophe to post-Covid social awkwardness (‘I Want to Drink in a Bar’), which really nails social distancing in a witty but thoughtful way (“it’s an oxymoron…”, complete with Norm dialogue from ‘Cheers’).
Older track “F*** The Government, I Love You’ definitely channels Laughing Len but in a beautiful duet…
The biggest shoutout of the night from the band (as well as the ever-reliable Jer on sound) was for Olive Grove label boss Lloyd Meredith, who has done so much to promote The Burning Hell in this part of the world – (he got a full verse to himself on ‘Amateur Rappers’ but they fluffed the joke about him, never mind!).
To sum them up in a phrase, mordantly funny – and well worth catching live or on record – and much respect due to Lloyd and the Glad to making this happen…