All across the world couples are sitting opposite each other in some posh restaurant somewhere, paying £40 for a bowl of pasta and the price of a small family car for a bottle of ‘Sham’-pagne. Meanwhile we’re at...er...Sandwell Snooker Centre, downing pints of M&B Mild. Who says romance is dead eh? To be fair there’s a good reason, another ‘local’ Miss Halliwell show, a band I’ve been in love with almost as long as I’ve been married, give or take a decade or so.
First up though The Nature Centre, kicking off with a little Syd era Floyd meets quality indie pop, all wrapped up in lovely Brummieness. Bonus points for calling one song BRMB and including the lyric “You’re not from Venus...you’re from Solihull” in another track and a special gold star for the lady Nature Centre-ist (I was going to say naturist but that’s something altogether different...) who seemed to be able to play pretty much every instrument under the sun. A worthy addition to fellow Brummie indie poppers Misty’s Big Adventure, The Dollcanoes and Kate Goes (we have a sneaky feeling the lady Nature Centre-ist was/is in Kate Goes too).
Next The Crooked Hooks dished up everything from a little alt-boogie through to prog punk courtesy of newbie Cokehead. Gloriously raucous and ramshackle in places any band that has a song called Walt Disney’s Cryogenically Frozen Head has to be worth a listen, right? Highlights included the string bending genius of Factory Filth, the lyrics ‘punched out’ like some huge great metal pressing machine in a suitably staccato style.
“With power comes responsibility” intones Miles Perhower, Miss Halliwell’s lead vocalist and visionary, as he appears as if from nowhere sporting what looks like a Mexican wrestling mask and wearing a heavy overcoat. At this point I’d normally witter on (blah, blah, blah) and write a standard review but reading back through my notes, written with the benefit of a drink or three, somehow makes a lot more sense this time...
“Miles – leaping savant, soothsayer, sage, demon and goblin. Band gelling brilliantly. It’s the future. It’s subtle, it’s complex, it’s simple, it’s fucking HEARTFELT. In a world of imposters Miss Halliwell shines the light. EVERY SET SEEMS FRESH. Miss Halliwell wanders the dangerous line between disaster and perfection better than anyone. Christ...an old woman invades the gig from the bar outside and starts heckling the band...”who invited their nan?” asks Miles. Miss Halliwell...like meeting a proper character in a bar. The ranters and ravers that somehow make sense. It’s psych, it’s indie, it’s prog, it’s x and y and everything in between. “Don’t give into the world, Everyone will die someday. Don’t capitulate”. Reach Out (I’ll Be There)...the heart attack cover version...a barfly serenading his world at 3.28 am. “Your life is an illusion. DIMWIT!” Hmmmm...shit...so true. Miles, the only frontman to put on his jacket and coat onstage before exiting the building as swiftly as he arrived. No encore, none of the ‘hits’, leave us wanting more...and more”.
That, pretty much, is what I scribbled down...or at least that’s what I could make out (I struggle to read my own handwriting at the best of times and there was a lot more swearing in the original version plus some words that look like Russian...hmmm) but perhaps it goes some way to capturing the essence of a Miss Halliwell gig...or then again maybe not. Either way you’ll have your chance to find out at their next gig at The Sunflower Lounge on Saturday March 7th or, if you fancy a weekend away, they’ve been booked to play two nights at The Waterhole in Amsterdam on June 4th and 5th. Failing that the digital release of Miss Halliwell’s ‘Best of’ album, The Perhower and the Gory Years 2010-2014, is out now at all good record shops...er...no...laptops probably...or whatever you lovely people use these days.