Hope And Social – Fibbers, 16/10/11

“That’s odd,” I thought, “You don’t often see a dancing banana. Even at Fibbers…”

Five minutes earlier (a much over-used dramatic cliché but, hey, band-wagons are there for jumping on) we had been sitting next to the merchandise table chatting, wondering when the bands were going to start and, in one case, purchasing one of Hope&Social’s splendid new “blue blazer” t-shirts. Attracted forwards by a sudden burst of frenetic (and loud) keyboard playing we found Rosie – Doug Wallace (rhythm guitar and vocals), Tommy Leatherbarrow (drums and backing vocals) and Louis Leatherbarrow (keyboard and bass) – on stage and the aforementioned dancing banana in front of it, with a second dancer and, after a couple of minutes, Rich Huxley joining in. I’m not sure how to describe Rosie without making them seem awful. One quote on their Facebook page says “bouncy electro-powered party punk” and I noted that one song – Aftaparty, I think – sounded like the squalling offspring of a liaison between Madness and any Brit-pop band. What they delivered was high-energy, exciting music in a style that I wouldn’t normally listen to but which managed to draw me in and paint a wide smile on my face. It was a short set, slightly extended by the unexpected addition of I Like To Move It, but it was a very entertaining one that somehow fit with what you would expect from a band supporting Hope&Social.

Sadly, an update on the band’s Facebook page this week states that Doug has decided to leave the band. It’s a shame, really, as while the band definitely performed as a package, Doug’s shouted vocals, powerful guitar and wide grin was a big part of the whole.

It’s not really fair of me to try to review People In Airports as before they took to the stage I had moved towards the back of the venue to chat to another friend. Staying there for their performance I couldn’t really see of hear them clearly. Suffice to say that nothing really enticed me forward. From where I was standing, it sounded like a fairly bland performance and I couldn’t help thinking that, given the headliners, it might have been another of those evenings when the support acts were the wrong way round on the bill. I’ll leave it at that and hopefully give them a more considered review if I catch them again.

“We’ve been accused of not taking our last couple of gigs seriously,” announced Hope&Social frontman Simon Wainwright. “Last Friday we jogged on the spot for fifteen minutes, which was good. Unless you were in the audience…” This less-than-startling “revelation” came a few songs into tonight’s set. A few songs that were interspersed with the usual H&S shenanigans, including references to a band member’s current ailments (suffice to say we were informed of this in case bass player Simon Goff had to leave the stage quickly and as a warning to stay away from his Mum’s cooking), an allusion to guitarist Rich Huxley recently electrocuting a sensitive part of his anatomy and what he likes to do with it and two hairdryers (it was at this point that I started crying with laughter and got the beginnings of a stitch), the opportunity for some of the audience to discover what wonderful odours were present in Simon and Rich’s blazers and Simon ad-libbing a rendition of “There’s Only One Gary Stewart” along with a section of the audience dressed in tank-tops and and adorned with false beards, much to the apparent embarrassment of the drummer.

And it didn’t stop there. There was indeed jogging, although it didn’t last for fifteen minutes before trumpeter James Hamilton led Rosie and Katie the rest of the brass section (Rosie and Katie) into the audience to encourage some of us to jog on the spot. This eventually brought cries of “next song!” from the Gary Stewart appreciation section, who had been told that they couldn’t stop running until the song had finished.

That’s the beauty of a Hope&Social gig – you don’t just get music, you get thoroughly entertained. With three albums under their collective belts and Sleep Sound heavily promoted on the last tour, tonight was almost a Greatest Hits tour. The set had been shaken up quite a bit and included songs from all three releases. Sadly, there was no sign of Simon taking to the audience with Looking For Answers but we did get the likes of Rolling Sideways, Sleep Sound, Red Red Rose, The Road Never Lies, Marching On Through and Gary Stewart’s rendition of You Can Call Me Al all delivered in the customary style of a band that genuinely enjoy playing together. Hope&Social may not take their gigs seriously, but they certainly take their music seriously and it is that combination that means that, however many times you see them, each performance seems as fresh and original as the last. They are easily one of the best live acts around at the moment and I can’t recommend them highly enough. Go, give them a try – their albums are available on a pay what you want basis here and you can even download them for free. For the full effect, though, go see them live.

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About Ian

Regular gig-goer in York, both to see local and touring bands. Huge music fan, with more CDs than my wife thinks any one person should own. I also collect American comics, read a lot of SF and fantasy and am a season-ticket holder at Leeds United.
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