Review: Mosh pit out in force for BellowheadBy Willie Douglas
November 15, 2012
Plus Mama Rosin in support
Wednesday, November 14
The Hexagon, Reading
It was folk captain – but not as we know it.
Judging by the swell of the mosh – yes a mosh - and the guy in the Hawkwind T-shirt you could have been forgiven for thinking you had strayed into a rock gig.
But Bellowhead are no ordinary folk act. More orchestra, chorale and Brechtian theatre ensemble than a band, they have more than a hint of rock and roll to the cut of their jibs. And in their current manifestation it seems they have invented a new genre – Gothic folk rock.
Bold reinterpretations of sea shanties and the English folk canon are Bellowhead’s trademark, but last night the sinister lighting and solid electric guitar riffs on their version of the traditional colliers’ song Byker Hill had them charting new waters into the dark side.
Front man Jon Boden, wild-eyed and apparently deranged (perhaps from an over indulgence of grog), commanded his crew from centre-stage, while the powerful horn section, drums and stirring fiddles provided the bigness to their big band sound.
A madly eclectic parade of instruments such as a fat sousaphone and skinny bass clarinet enhanced the theatrical feel to the performance.
This was a mix of the old crowd pleasers such as New York Girls and The Haul Away Set plus new material from their new album Broadside.
The constant change in pace and tightness of the arrangements made this an unbeatable and thrilling spectacle musically and visually.
A word also for the superb support act Mama Rosin who entertained early arrivals with their energetic punk tinged Zydeco stomp.