The Bleedin Noses
Larmer Tree Festival, Dorset
ARC Tent, 18.30
Wednesday 16th July 2014
Oliver Ashton (Ollie) – banjo, lead vocal + guitar on encore
Paul Julian (Spook)– guitar, vocals
Kevin Meyrick – electric guitar, slide guitar, mandolin, harmonica
Louie Williams – keyboards
Darren Lewis (Gobba) – drums
(The bass player was absent)
The Larmer Tree Festival is about ambience, Dorset country air, meeting people you haven’t seen for ages, as well as music. The food is great (the sheep milk ice creams are memorable), the toilets clean and plentiful, lots of kids, lots of stalls selling hippyish garb I would have snapped up by the yard in 1970.
Larmer Tree: ambience
This year, it’s just the one visit for us for Tom Jones … like being a day boy at a boarding school. We already had tickets for Hall & Oates in Bournemouth on Thursday, and theatre at Chichester on Saturday AND it’s the school holiday for our grandkids. So a fleeting visit. I don’t review anyone unless I see the whole set, and for instance we saw most of Sally Barker on the Garden Stage (beautiful voice) but missed her first fifteen minutes, so no review. But we did wander in to check out The Bleeding Noses in the ARC tent one minute before they started, and stayed transfixed to the end.
The Bleedin Noses (http://www.thebleedinnoses.com) describes themselves as “The Welsh home of Dirty Country producing a blend of genres including country, punk, rock, blues and soul.” In other words, in American terms they’re Alt.country. I couldn’t hear any blues or soul to be honest, but there was a punk rock energy to the country flavoured songs. Their publicity postcard shot in some knackered industrial workshop deliberately echoes The Band. Nothing wrong with that!
They’re a six piece band from Blackwood, Gwent in South Wales. They described themselves jokingly as “Winglish” which struck a chord for me, because this part of Gwent, where Blackwood is, used to be Monmouthshire, where my mother was born, and was administratively “England” for many years though everyone had Welsh accents and thought of themselves as Welsh. The lead singer / banjo player did very good self-deprecating intros with a lovely sense of humour.
The band were one short. Their bass player was absent and this was a major gig for them, opening the Larmer Tree Festival. It was also a deserved honour, because they won the Larmer Tree Breakthrough Music Award 2014, a competition with a prize of a 45 minute performance … in fact they were repeating it at 11.30 after “Uncle Tom’s” set. Their website say all six sing, but practically, live, it was 90% just two: Ollie lead vocals with Spook on unison / backing vocals.
I can’t do a set list because the titles are unknown to me. It was a ten song set with an unscheduled encore … the audience demanded one. They take no prisoners, but go hell for leather at every number. They’re exhilarating, and banjo is an unusual central instrument. The outstanding number was announced as their next virtual single: Dead Flowers. Another song had the title Rant. They have a CD EP (Dirty Country) and a CD (The Bleeding Noses). Unfortunately neither was on sale … only the Songlines magazine tent sells CDs, and they weren’t putting the CD out till the next day … we asked after Tom Jones too on our way out. That’s a real pain for a new band … people buy CDs on the spur of the moment. People there for the whole festival will see it, but there were a lot of “day visitors” for Tom Jones. I couldn’t find either disc on amazon.co.uk. My iTunes search didn’t find it either, but the iTunes link off their website did HERE. and I bought Dead Flowers straight away. Another song was “forthcoming.” The EP and album are worth exploring, and I’ll probably download them later. Banjo is prominent, and the bass does add a lovely spring. Try the song, you’ll love it! A trademark is a dynamic tightly rehearsed rhythmic section in songs.
A criticism. We loved every number, but they’re all around the same level of pace and energy. Ollie has a first rate voice. One song in there should have slowed down, or changed pace, and focussed, so that you could appreciate the energy when they went flat-out again. I suspect they mainly play venues where people can dance aka jump about… they mentioned dancing twice, but no one was going to move in a seated tent like that. A seated venue can surprise bands whose thing is getting feet moving … even Bellowhead, seasoned as they are, seemed tied down in a seated concert hall last year.
The other tweak I’d advise is just one cover version. I always say a new band playing unfamiliar material should put in one really well-known cover, and show themselves off by bending it to their own style. It gives audiences something to latch onto among a bunch of unknown songs.
But we definitely want to see them again, hopefully with the bass player restored to their ranks … though the keyboard player did some nice left hand bass lines tonight.