Big test for The Simo, this one—. How on EARTH do you review a band that you’ve fallen instantly, head-over-heels, HOPELESSLY in love with? All objectivity goes out the window. The need to be witty or a smartarse becomes meaningless. Indeed, it’s a conundrum. You’ve cast a POWERFUL spell over this bullshitter, Slow Show, and make no mistake. And I don’t like it at all— ( meaning, of course, that I LOVE it!).
Anyway, we’re at our FAVE venue, The Trades Club in bohemian Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire. There are candlelit tables for us to sit at and tickets cost the princely sum of £6.00 each! Where ELSE in the country ??? LOL Oh, sorry, forgot to mention. The bitter is TERRIFIC, too, but I can’t drink tonight. I’m on assignment. Shit.
First up, we are treated to the affable charms of Pocket Hercules, a solo, singer/guitarist in the mould of ( dare I say it—? ) David Grey. It’s a BRAVE gig playing in such a naked style. Just you stood there staring down the barrel of the audience. Our man pulls it off with aplomb, however, and I’m hearing influences of James Taylor, Paul Carrack and, er, The Seahorses ( ? ). We have a bit of a soft spot for troubadours here in Simo World and we likee this guy. He’s got a mini-album out next year and he says that you can add him on Facebook as “Pocket Hercules.” Nuff said.
Affability is one of the THEMES of the evening as The Slow Show takes to the stage. Singer Rob Goodwin is calm and at ease with himself and the moment. He’s like someone you’ve known for YEARS even though you don’t know him at all. And then, MY GOD, they begin proceedings with “Mr. Blue Tie.” Their music is like the most beautiful thing I ever heard in my life. Colliery brass band mixed with Manc Americana at its most impressive. It INSTANTLY hits me in the guts and I feel quite emotional. Is “in rapture” too clichéd? They are a seven piece band with trumpet player and second vocalist but the effect they create is ORCHESTRAL. I sit there in a kind of shocked silence, transfixed and transported to other places by this luscious, gorgeous, melancholy sound. The climax and abrupt ending of the song almost has me JIBBERING, lol.
Having decided that I’m, now, FIRMLY in love ( again ) we have second single “God Only Knows” straight away. No messing about with these kids! It’s the old Hovis advert mixed with Cherry Ghost is this one. Very, very RARELY can an artist play their material BETTER live than on record. I can honestly say, with my hand on my heart, that The Slow Show manage to accomplish it. How can they be SO good ??? My heart is thumping and my palms are sweaty. Maybe I’m expecting for them to SHAG me, I don’t know? Third on the set-list, “This Is How I Know”, puts me in mind of a bluesy, Lou Reed number ( or, indeed, Silver Jews ). Rob promises not to let me down— because he’s in love. I flirt with the idea of writing my mobile phone number on my knickers and throwing them onto the stage.
New tune “Dear Love” is next and ANOTHER of tonight’s themes rears its spooky head. This one’s a FIRST for me. Ain’t never been to a HAUNTED gig before—. Just as I’m writing, “they’ve got me by the bollocks”, and, “his voice could reduce you to tears”, towards the end of the song, there’s a strange power-drain or weird feedback sound accompanying the band. It fits in with the music too, bizarrely! Apparently, it’s the Trades Club’s very own apparition known as “The Beast.” Hhhmmm. I wonder if they have the SAME Sound Engineer every time “The Beast” makes an appearance? Hhhmmm, lol. First single “Brother” follows after we’ve all ( nervously ) stopped laughing. It’s quite simply EPIC. Classical piano intro gives way to heartwrenching reminiscences and that Northern, Brass Band hybrid. I think they’ve hit upon a WINNING musical formula but only time will tell. Er, did something ELSE happen tonight except for the band? I’d forgotten—.
“Caroline” continues the drama and I can’t help but be reminded of my pal Ciaron Melia’s old outfit, the great, lost Tompaulin. The Slow Show have a similar dynamic with vocal interplay between both male and female singers. But that was then and this is now and I’m in love NOW !!! “Testing” ( another newie ) makes me fall even more DEEPLY in love. I hear CHOIRS, I hear OPERA and, then, **** opens up. Staggering. If they don’t put this out as the next single, then I have no critical judgement whatsoever. It’s a MUST do, chaps. “Northern Town” begins as a solo performance but the rest of the group all join in instrument by instrument. Rob tells us that they were stopped halfway through this number in Leeds because of a sound curfew. Well, what else can you EXPECT in Dirty Leeds? Joke, people, joke ( ? ).
“Lucky Me, Lucky You” is a bona fide solo spot showcasing lover boy Rob’s talents. His Manc accent seeps through the cracks in the music as he half sings, half speaks this number. It’s almost too PAINFUL for me to listen to, it’s all THAT moving. We’re sat right up next to the stage, btw, and I wonder if they can actually SEE me blush? Solo-itis continues apace with a very, very SPECIAL ( possibly, one-off? ) delivery of brand new song “I Wish So Bad.” They’re taking advantage of the “lovely quiet” and we’re all sat here spellbound. You could hear a pin drop, actually. Follow THAT up with Simo’s Song Of The Year, their breathtakingly BEAUTIFUL version of Springsteen’s “Born To Run”, and my night reaches its high point.
“Dirty Little Secret” is my current Slow Show favourite and, again, it should have been a single in its own right methinks. Should an adult man cry? Should he feel this way about a band? They’re JUST a band—. Right—? My fluttery heartstrings get pulled once more as **** sings the titular words. “Lullaby” brings us close to tonight’s finale. More “rock” is creeping into the set by this stage and I hear a DEFINITE Dexy’s influence on this one. Yet another single choice, perhaps? “Morning Hours” closes the set and finishes on an appropriately SATISFYING crescendo. I don’t want this night to EVER end. I want to sit here in a Groundhog Day-type Timeloop and watch them play and play and play, eternally!
Of course there are encores- we DEMAND them- and we get a drummerless “Missing The Rain” ( missing outside the Trades Club—? LOL ) as the band didn’t PLAN for this eventuality. It’s sublime. My mood is ENCAPSULATED by the very last song of the evening, “Falling Slow.” You’ve taken me in and had your wicked way with me, Slow Show. Oh, and you can have me again ANY time you want! “Something wonderful’s happened to me, I’m in love!” This gig finishes in my Top 5 of All Time Favourites, alongside The The – Leeds 2000, Morrissey- Blackburn 1991, The House Of Love-Derby 1989 and Viva Morrissey!-, er, Hebden Bridge 2010, in no particular order. As we leave the building, there are various members of the band stood outside maybe smoking, maybe talking to the punters. I don’t talk to them because I would class that as arse-kissing of the HIGHEST order— ( —sober, lol ). Maybe it’s time for me to add SCHMOOZING to my repertoire—?