William The Bastard (alias of Andy Wellings) is accompanied by a guitar and two sets of percussion which build some interesting layers around his bass, an instrument laden with pedals and used in conjunction with the others to create a pretty industrial soundscape. There’s technique to it but the vocals are ill-advised and it all needs a little re-jig to get it out of the realms of the bedroom.
Redditch’s Racing are up next and perform a characteristically lively set of their funk and soul sound with lead singer and showman James Rea at the helm. Highlights are Quicksand and Yesterday’s News and by the end everybody is suitably ready for the party – this is the celebration of the release of Hoopla Blue‘s debut Mother EP after all.
Seeing Hoopla Blue perform has become something of a treat – they pick their shows carefully. Tonight they add to their usual repertoire (Seams, Oranges, Holy Ghost, Rituals and Hummingbird), airing three new songs – Nortune, Beyond Pine and Wool Eyed Brood, a charming and stripped back duet for which guitarists and vocalists Adam Tomes and Thomas Hewson are left alone, facing each other, onstage. Layers of intertwining guitars and vocal harmonies, tactile experimentation with timings and the consideration of how it’s all presented live is what Hoopla Blue excel in.Tonight there’s a special guest appearance from Leighton Rees (who himself plays and has played in numerous outfits around town, Pandas and People, The Bombergs) who has previously joined the band on glockenspiel and is promoted to keys for a couple of songs tonight. The set is marred somewhat by a collection of people who talk over the top of what is clearly a performance that needs quiet and this evidently phases the band. However by the second half of the set and the mass exodus of the offenders, they’ve settled into their stride. Tonight is a celebration of the release of a truly beautiful piece of work – if you missed the show (and where were you?), purchasing it is the only way to make it up.
Photos: Rob Hadley