The Castle & Falcon, Birmingham
I know this band has a friend or 2 here,with at least 3 of us putting their 2017 release, the Wild, in their best of 2017. I’ve been a fan for a while, so when the opportunity came to catch them in this newly re-furbed venue, previously the Ceol Castle, I couldn’t resist.
First on were Yukon Blonde, a five piece of noisy hipsters trying to be psycho-motorik, instead being proto-moronic. Less said. Short gap and on strode RAA. All 3 of them. 3? OK, I had done my homework ahead and discovered that somehow only 3 folk produce the dense strum’n’drum of their records, but couldn’t believe that was reproducible live and unaugmented. Soundwise they always remind me of a mash-up of US blue-collar rock with cow-punk folk, think Bruce fronting the Men They Couldn’t Hang, a trick that appeared in the shoutier songs here, And somehow, with solely an acoustic guitar, drums and keyboard, they produced a hell of a joyful din. The songs tend all to be stories relating to the singer-guitarist, Nils Edenloff’s, um, rural canadian upbringing, so lots of bridges falling and homesteads burning, propelled by his hoarse vocal and guitar. Actually, that’s a misnomer, propelled by the ridiculously busy drums of Paul Banwatt. Sat at the side of the stage, both that positioning and his style reminded me of BJ Wilson, fills and flourishes effortlessly closing any gaps in the wall of sound. 3rd member, Robin Hatch, was on mainly keyboard chordal atmosphere, somehow managing the odd bass pedal as well, despite standing throughout. She also added additional tub thumping tom tom and backing vocals. I guess we got an hour and a bit, 20 odd songs. Highlights perhaps a little hard to recall, one fault being the somewhat limited palette offered; many of the songs were not dissimilar, even if I like that song. I think the records give a little more light and dark. But hey, in the backroom bar with most of Brum’s canadian population present, on a friday night, guinness gushing like oil: it’s an irish bar, it was perfect. And I think it the first time I have seen/heard an acoustic guitar, OK miked up, rotated in front of the speakers to give a feedback squall.
As stated, the accents suggested a partisan throng. 70 present altogether, or therearound. Ages tending toward the late 20’s to 40s, beards, beanies and plaid workshirts, the odd greybeard like me speckling the periphery. Keen. Fairly drunk.
Good to see the old Ceol Castle back on the scene again, too, a favourite venus of 15 years ago. Done up now to look like one of those lofts in films featuring NY punks, brick wall and industrial pipes, rather than the timber framed log-cabin, bedecked with acoustic instruments, that it used to affect. (Perhaps RAA might have fitted better in the old scheme?)
It made me think..
I do like me live music.