Friday, May 28, 2010

Dan Sartain / The Rivers Presley Set @ The Hare and Hounds, Kings Heath, Thursday 27th May 2010

Man, that’s some powerful voodoo going on there. How else could you explain the sudden transportation of the Hare & Hounds from humble ol’ Kings Heath to the darkest depths of the Mississippi delta eh? Yep, shut your eyes tonight and you can almost hear the ‘gators a snappin’ at yer heels (if they hadn’t all been poisoned by several trillions of gallons of oil that is). Yep, first up it’s the swampy blues gumbo of The Rivers Presley Set, with Rivers himself (face hidden behind a curtain of dirty blonde hair) delivering some 100% proof larynx rasping vocals (shades of Tom Waits in there...they even covered his ‘Heart Attack and Vine’ track at one point) against the backdrop of Thomas Henry’s pure and primal skin thumping. It’s as intoxicating as a swig of Jim Beam from a hobo’s boot (and that’s one hell of an intoxicating mixture I tells ya). ‘Folk Devil Blues’, (sounding a little like a pissed off version of Depeche Mode’s Personal Jesus in places) and the slow burning ‘Louise McGhee’ were just a couple of the standout tracks from a headliner worthy set. I guess we have the Copter collective to thank for the quality of some of our freakier, bluesier, rock n’rollier (hell I’m struggling for genres to do it justice here) bands round these parts – including The Big Bang (RIP), Vinny and the Curse, Swampmeat and, of course, Copter themselves...all really, really, really great. Musical history will look back fondly on this lot, you mark my words – you lucky sons o’bitches still have the chance to witness it.

Next up, all the way Birmingham (Alabama that is), Dan Sartain. If Dan didn’t exist Quentin Tarantino would have to invent him. He’d be a character in some sick and twisted American road movie filmed in grainy black and white involving killer zombie grannies, lesbian schoolgirls and a talking coyote. Happily mother nature’s done all the hard work for us and here he is, thin as a pistol and every bit as deadly. Ready... ’Atheist Funeral’...take aim... ’Ruby Carol’’Walk Among the Cobras’...bang, bang, bang...killer tune after killer tune, each one delivered with an ultra cool swagger, Southern twang and just a hint of menace. Mr Dan’s a real character (I had the pleasure of a brief chat with him before the gig, culminating in several ‘moustache offs’ – his stick on, mine not) and tonight’s set was peppered with little riffs about Quarter Life Crisis Wolf (his look this evening was like a slightly older Teen know...that Michael J Fox film) and Rockabilly Cheese was like tuning in to some weird US radio station...WBSLKCWX – the home of the hits where the tunes don’t stop and the awopbopaloobopawopbamboos.

Wearing his Ray Bans (naturally) throughout the set and singing into a 50’s style mic that wasn’t much smaller than his entire head it was a lesson in cool from start to finish. ‘Walk Among The Cobras’ remains one of my favourite tracks of all time, but newbie ‘Atheist Funeral’ (a defiant rockabilly kick in god’s ‘nads) is right up there with Dan’s best. Hell, I wouldn’t mind that blasting out as I’m getting served up as a worm’s main course. As the set drew to a close he introduced his band, referring to the bassist as the ‘heart’ of the group and the drummer the ‘brain’. Which body part did he claim to be? He was, he said proudly, the ‘sphincter’. I reckon that’s just about right. Leaving the stage after a fast and furious show (none of this off and on again pantomime encore siree) here’s a guy who cuts the crap and gets the job done. Dan-tastic? Sartain-ly was.

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