The Trades Club - Hebden Bridge

Friday 3 October 2003

Back at the Trades Club, described by my brother as the only venue he knows where they charge you every time you go through another door. A trifle unfair, given their sound socialist background. The place never seems to change much. It was announced that they have had some financial difficulties, but this clearly isn't down to overspending on decorating. But they put on plenty of decent gigs, the beer's pretty good, and the license extension was good up to half past midnight.

The Man bandThere was a lengthy soundcheck still going on when I arrived, which featured Popemobile and a spacier jam which I hadn't head before. An interesting appetiser; the main course started with Ride, though this was delayed as Deke prepared himself, encouraged by some ribbing from Martin. but it was worth waiting for: Deke was really leading from the front, and his solo was excellent; in contrast, I thought Gareth's Moog solo seemed a bit forced in this context.

We then got a trio of Ace songs - Mad on Her was very tight and crisp, and has the heavier style which George seems to relish meeting head on. Walrus in contrast has a lighter touch, and despite its rockabilly feel does not in the least sound out of place. Kangaroo semed to be taken at a slower pace, almost languid. Very enjoyable though.

Deke LeonardC'mon has been shuffled in and out of the set over recent years, one time being the entrenched starter which gave Micky plenty of space to warm up. These days it's much more of a band affair, though George certainly does not let down the family name, and contributes some excellent, imaginative playing - the echoey intro was especially noteworthy. Gareth adds another spacey Moog solo, and Deke adds his usual two penn'rth towards the end. And somewhere in the middle, the nod back to Call Down the Moon. This was probably the highlight of the set, only spoilt by the occasional intrusive sound problems.

The Man bandAs has been said before, it's all too easy to overlook how good Bob Richards is, but his playing on Feather does merit a special mention. While Pugwash would take it all squarely at top volume, Bob manages to add some great measured and thoughtful drumming; it would be all too easy to interpret this raunchy song as an all out rocker, but Bob finds more. Terrific. The one criticism I would make of this piece is that George's clean Strat sound doesn't really fit well with the overall raucous tone of the song.

7171 was its usual rousing self. A similar nit pick to the one above - Gareth's synth solo makes an awkward fit in what really should be a celebration of the wahwah pedal, but well, maybe it's just progress. Daughter was short, vicious and very good, just as it should be. The band then looked a bit confused (or more confused than usual anyway), before realising they had ended the set, and shuffled off a little uncertainly.

The younger element and their hair stylesThe first encore was Romain, and to these untrained ears, something sounded a bit out of tune, and it didn't help that Deke's guitar was too high in the mix. No big deal. Hard Way saw more of the dancing that had broken out at various points in the evening; young people nowadays, eh? The crowd were hugely appreciative, so the band held an impromptu meeting on stage, and after some head scratching delivered a top notch version of Spunk Rock.

A very good night. I'm not sure they have got the balance right between short and long songs, but their depth of material means they have plenty of scope to experiment.

There are pics from this gig in the Gallery.

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