Friday, December 23, 2011

The Dirty Old Folkers Panto / Sylvia / Ola Brown (Compere) @ The Hare and Hounds, Thursday 22nd December

Well, nearly there. The turkey’s already on, the mulled wine’s bubbling away and Bad Santa’s in the DVD player. Bliss. Just before I attempt to consume my own body weight in stuffing however time for one last review...almost literally given the sheer insanity on offer this evening. The night kicked off with local folk collective, Sylvia, who endeared themselves to my heart simply by covering Frankie’s Power Of Love track, not a traditional Christmas classic I’ll grant you but for people of a certain age (i.e. ancient) always associated with this time of the year. Covers aside they’ve got some fine self penned tracks too, with gentle harmonies giving way to slightly rockier riffs.

If their name doesn’t give it away then the first few tracks from The Dirty Old Folkers (self proclaimed as Birmingham's only comedy folk cabaret band) sets the tone for the rest of the night. Folk’s always been associated with protest but delve back into its history and there’s plenty of smut, humour and innuendo too. Unlike many of the current folk bands around right now The DOF the rod...creating a unique blend of bile and smiles. Imagine Ewan MacColl crossed with a Viz comic and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what you’re in for. The night kicked off with Old Man Tucker, a tale of an OAP who exacts entirely appropriate revenge on the fat cats for the shit way they have...and what’s pretty unbelievable...continue to behave (it’s a theme the band returned to on one or two other tracks). Second number, Jack Of All Trades, probably the most straightforward protest tune of the night, was a blistering attack on the selling off of what was left of the UK’s industry. This has had a huge impact on the Midlands of course, with Jaguar and Rover being flogged off for a song, Cadbury sold under particularly dubious circumstances and now the rail industry in Derbyshire being decimated by the Government’s decision to award a £multi-billion contract for new rolling stock to a German company. Genius eh? Fair play to The DOF for writing about this stuff, there’s far too little raging against the machine these days (speaking of which they did a rather fine folk take on Killing In The name Of later in the evening...quite brilliant).

Aside from the traditional set format tonight saw a performance of the fourth annual DOF panto, a surreal post modernist take on that old favourite Cinderella. Revolving around a coke snorting Cinders’ attempt to win the X Factor it featured a panda as Louis Walsh (naturally), David Bowie as The Fairy Zigfather, Death (yes, the actual Death...he lives in Kings Heath dontcha know) as The Rev Death and the delightfully foul mouthed spoonerisms of Buttons (sample dialogue “You’re a cucking funt!”). Bonkers? Yes? Enjoyable? You bet. Trust me, you had to be there. Plenty of people were. In fact the place was rammed, adding to the jovial party atmosphere when we were all called upon to join in on the frequent festive singalongs...a task that people strangely warmed to as the booze flowed. Funny that eh? As long as I live I doubt I’ll ever again see anything as strange as Death engage in a dance off with a giant panda to the tune of Sexy Back. Death won by the way, by killing panda, causing one well lubricated punter to call him a “Fookin’ cheat!” Ha! Take that death, you don’t mess with drunken Brummies. There’s something wonderful about having a ruck with death isn’t there? Remind me to do likewise when I’m about to pop my clogs.

After a quick break and a rub down with a damp cloth the hardest working band in show business were back for another set, the highlight of which involved the story of The Hobbit being set to a series of classic tracks, everything from I Will Survive to War Pigs. I’m not sure the ring Tolkein was referring to was the same one that The DOF seemed to have in mind this evening but who knows? A folking great evening of fun from start to finish.

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