By Carron Stacey
WHERE: Pyramids, Portsmouth
Counting up, this will have been the seventh time I’ve seen this band, and to be honest, they are my other half’s favourite band not mine! But they always deliver, so I always go back.
- Read on for reasons including how J. Willgoose Esq spoke
This is the third time we’ve seen them in this venue, but it’s by far the busiest. I arrived during the support, and the audience overlapped the bar queue (though that might have something to do with only four bar staff on for nearly 2,000 people, I’m not sure).
My more comprehensive review of them from a year ago is available here but tonight they felt different. This is the tour for the third album, Every Valley, which focuses on the coal mining industry in Wales. The evocative set has lamps that are lowered down over the stage during songs from the album, and mining equipment flanking the band.
We wondered how the new album would translate to a tour, but it really added another dimension to the body of work they’ve produced. Songs from Inform-Educate-Entertain now sit easily with the Race for Space tunes, and now with Every Valley. Transfixing footage of interviews with miners and their wives inform and educate us in the audience, reminding us of the rise and fall of the country’s coal industry.
What was the same? All favourites were included, thankfully, including Spitfire, which is my joint favourite along with Gagarin, for which I was delighted to see the spaceman dancing on stage. The horn section were as funky as ever. The crowd enjoyed the emotion during The Other Side and of course the last song, Everest.
What was new? Before I went out, I decided I didn’t have to dress up – after all, the audience was only going to be a room full of 50-year-old men. How wrong was I? How many women were there too – hurrah! (But while I was sipping a G&T during the support, I did watch a bloke read a work email that asked questions about some database coding – and I watched him reply. Some things don’t change.)
But J. Willgoose Esq spoke! There was some speak and spell activity, but most of it was him speaking. I’ve never seen them so relaxed and I’m sure they played extra notes in and changed the arrangements slightly (though it’d be hard to check).
All in all, the best I’ve seen them, with a more rounded body of work now to play live. Keep up the talking, Sir!
- Picture by Dave MacDonald. Tickets
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