by Andy Fawthrop
A Saturday night jaunt out of The Vize and into The Sham in search of musical entertainment. First port of call, after the rigours of the X72’s journey through the deep space and timeless beauty of Sells Green and Bowerhill, was for much-needed refreshments. Honours suitably done at The Hiding Place (the new kid on the block from the makers of The Vaults in D-Town) with a range of craft beers, and one of Ian Timbers’ marvellous pop-up pizzas, we schlepped over to the wonderfully-ornate Rachel Fowler Centre. And there we found ensconced a large crowd who’d come to see a couple of great entertainers.
Hull-born Henry Priestman, songwriter for both Yachts and The Christians in the 70s and 80s, has over more recent years struck out on his own. Teaming up about five years ago with scouser “Loved-Up” Les Glover, Henry has developed a great double act, which has now visited Wiltshire a number of times, and steadily built up a loyal fan base in these here parts. Playing just about anywhere there will have them, these two jokers have entertained crowds in pubs, theatres, narrowboats, festivals and in peoples’ own homes in a popular series of house-concerts. Les recently played the Devizes Winter Ales Festival to great acclaim. They’ve worked on and produced each other’s albums, and they’ve also made an album together – “Six Of One, And Half A Dozen Of The Other”.
Pretending to eschew such professional affectations as “practice” or “rehearsals”, Hen and Les produced a wonderful blend of songs and comedy. Last night we heard many of their best-known numbers covering a range of topics – love, loss, aging, political comment – interspersed with a plethora of stories, comic anecdotes and improvised double-talk. They describe their act, in their own words, as “the same old shite, but at least it’s quality shite”. But, of course, it was a long way from that. It was quality.
Joining them on stage for a few numbers were Malcolm Shipp (he of The Vaults and The Hiding Place, and the promoter of this gig) on harmonica and vocals, and Jennie Hale (of The Ukey Dukes). Audience participation in the banter, the choruses and (occasionally) the actions is a regular feature of their gigs, and last night was no exception. We were only missing the lighters held aloft by the swaying crowd, but you know what modern Health & Safety’s like!
However, whilst it all appeared and sounded fairly knockabout and cobbled-together, underneath these guys are serious musicians and great song-writers. They have the skills, the materials, the songs and the professionalism to create a great show. The comedy is just the icing on the cake.
Last night there were a few “newbies” in the audience, and they were completely won over. Two hours of great entertainment, followed by a 15-minute multi-dimensional encore, and a busy night on the merch desk, were proof that these guys are terrific value for money. I’m sure we’ll be seeing them back in Wiltshire again in the next few months.
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