Call me Russ L

The Hippy Coin-Operated Record Selecter

Posted in Music by Russ L on 20 June, 2007

Bohemian Jukebox is a regular night at The Bull’s Head in Moseley, but it’s a bit of a crap name. If my understanding of American history serves me correctly (and I see no reason why it wouldn’t), acting in a Bohemian sort of fashion at a time when Jukeboxes were popular would lead to McCarthy having you blacklisted and The Fonz saying “Aaaay, sit on it.” Or similar.

The first part of the name seemed apt once in the upstairs gig room at The Bulls Head (I’d never been to any part of it before), though, and in a ‘pleasant’ rather than ‘irritating’ way. I liked the vibe, and indeed the value – three quid gets you four musical acts and a chit that lets you get a shot of absinthe for a pound. You can’t say fairer than that.

Matt Geary (and his mate on drums) opened. First impressions were not at all good, but by the end of his/their set he/they had won me over. I couldn’t help but roll my eyes as they took up their positions, the drummer wearing his bowler hat with the grim determination only ever seen in a man grimly determined to wear a bowler hat and Matty himself sporting a scarf in spite of the not inconsiderable heat indoors. “Hmm” I thought, and this was of course unfair of me. Once they started playing, I wasn’t keen on the nasal voice he sang in, either. The songs were interesting, though (not massively unconventional or anything but with some touches here and there to keep them from being totally straightforward), the nicely varied percussion was very likeable, and they were able to work up a bit of intensity between them. On balance, thumbs up.

The chance to see Rich Batsford was probably the main reason for me attending this, so it’s a shame his set was ruined by a man who would most fairly be described as “a pillock.” The way he kept calling out encouraging and admonishing slogans to Rich (“You’re doing well;” “Slow down;” “Believe in yourself;” “Slow down;” “Ignore the audience, imagine you’re in your bedroom;” “Slow down” etc etc etc) was amusing at first and then wearying, but worse was his attempt to join in playing the piano and worse still (from my point of view) his insistence on trying to talk to me while I was listening to Mr Batsford (and in spite of the escalation of my responses from politely telling him I was trying to pay attention to the music, to bluntly telling him I didn’t give a toss about his babbling, to struggling not to lose my temper). Git.

Rich’s set seemed good enough in spite of this (very pretty piano melodies, warm and likeable songs) but I was getting a bit too tense and wound up to enjoy it. I’m sure I’ll see him another time, and hopefully he’ll be unaccompanied.

Bust My Flex came next. I would be making remarks about how stunning it was that he could play his guitar with such dexterity while being so clearly off his face (his pupils looked so wide he could probably see into the future), but his mate who asked me if I’d enjoyed it afterwards informed me that apparently he was completely sober. Blimey. Great stuff, anyway – very intricate and clever guitar pluckin’ and strummin’, but all seemingly with actual purpose as far as the songs go. Wiser minds than my own have suggested Jimmy Page circa ‘Kashmir’ as an influence. I liked the really fast one about mushrooms.

I’d wanted to see headliners Reverie Strings ever since their existence was brought to my attention by a couple of good notices from Baron. They didn’t disappoint me. Including – as they do – a three-piece string section, they create a sound so much more rich and full than many bands you can find at gigs of this scale. The singer sounds a lot like that bloke with the lovely throaty voice from Gomez, and the songs (they don’t sound like anything new but no obvious comparisons spring to mind, which is probably a good thing) were beguiling.

One plonker aside, I really enjoyed this gig. Super-duper stuff.

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