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Spann Report: Adrian Edmondson & The Bad Shepherds

by Chris Spann on 27 July, 2009 | 2 comments

Adrian Edmondson & The Bad Shepherds

When I first heard of the bad shepherds, I will admit to being a little wary. Folk musicians playing punk songs? That can’t possibly work, can it? However, the chance to see Ade Edmondson in the flesh was too much to resist, so it was not without some excitement that I found myself in Central Station on a school night, ready to see a comedy hero of mine live on stage.

However, first we need a support band to enjoy as the crowd continues to file in, and The Good Captain were certainly a good choice. They play relaxed southern rawk with a punky edge to it; imagine if Billy Bragg and Skynyrd had a jam together and you’re somewhere to imagining the sound. It sounds like watching a barfight in slow-motion; It’s not exactly music to bounce off the walls to, but theres a quiet, rebellious energy to thir sound thats hard not to like – Although their poor sax player Nicola was left on the very left of the stage, out of the lights and looking for all the world like a busker playing with the band on the stage though. I must congratulate the band on their mandatory slow song, ‘Take a Piece of Me’, however; If the rest of the set is like a slowed down bar brawl, this song is when the hero of the movie takes his lady home and lays her down for some action – the song slinks and sways before reaching a great big sexy climax (So to speak) as vocalist Gareth gives the lyrics the performance they deserve – belting them out like they mean everything and more to him – slightly ironic given his propensity to mumble his way through the space between songs. Still, the fact that I have even mentioned this is testament to my inability to find fault with them – A great band all in all who deserve to do very well.

However, good as The Good Captain were, they’re not the reason that this mixed bag of mums, dads, kids and students are here, many of them attending for no reason other than the name of a certain shiny headed, bespectacled bloke who’s well known for pretending to get hit with pans. It isn’t Eddie that steps out on stage tonight though, it’s very much all Ade, and despite a few (quite likely stock) lines of banter between songs, this is definitely all the aboutthe band as a whole; and what a band they are. Andy Dinan plays his fiddle like he’s wrestling a bear, Maartin Allcock is an understated linchpin holding the rhythm down, Troy Donnockly wrenches an uplifting sound from what essentially resembles the innards of a Hoover, and Ade is, by his own admission, the world’s best (and only) ‘thrash mandolin’ player.

As the opening strains of set opener “I Fought the Law” dirged through Central’s speakers, the entire crowd took notice, a sense of intrigue resonating through the club, and the song finished to an enormous noise from a highly appreciative crowd – Most of the people in the crowd probably aren’t old enough to knnow Jethro Tull, the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah band, or any of the other bands that these musicians gained their pedigree through, but right now it doesn’t matter; these four men are heroes. The lack of a drumkit makes the stage look huge, and although I will admit to being a little concerned about the lack of percussion, but once the band get going there’s so many people toe-tapping, clapping and singing along, I actually found myself thinking “Who needs drummers anyway?”. The sound was crisp and clear, and as a regular attendant of punk/ska/metal gigs, it’s nice to go and see a band that don’t need to be turned up to ear melting levels in order to elicit a response from the crowd – every instrument and voice is perfectly audible and adds something to the sound – not like a lot of gigs where you get to hear the drummer and the bassist, but the vocalist needs subtitles.

Adrian Edmondson & The Bad Shepherds

There is a problem with such a conservative sound however; the crowd’s chatting was very audible throughout the set – not neccesarily a sign of boredom, just something you notice when a band isn’t quite as loud as other bands can be. Edmondson is a genuinely funny and likeable man, whether he’s dealing with the gent right at the front of the crowd who seemed to think that the best way to enjoy the show would be to watch it through the two inch display of his camera phone, most likely with the intention of chucking it on youtube when he gets home, or retelling the Parable of Luke 15 and offering himself as God (“And as a bonus, I exist”) – It’s not strictly necessary but it’s yet another reason to like the band. As the night goes on, the cheers from the crowd get louder and louder, and people sing along with the songs they know, a cover of The Jam’s “Down in the Tube Station at Midnight” results in a huge noise from the crowd during the chorus’s ‘woah’s. Each song is welcomed with a surge of recognition as the vocals start, and by the end of the night, no-one is talking during a fantastically pared down version of “God Save the Queen”, the song met with some giant roars at the end.

As The Shepherds file off the stage after a well received encore and the crowd begins to disperse, one can’t help but feel that tonight, everyone in attendance will suddenly never think about folk music in quite the same light. An utterly unforgettable show for all the right reasons, it won’t be long before it’s not “Ade Edmondson from Bottom”, it’s “Ade from the Bad Shepherds”. Fantastic.

Read Chris’s interview with Adrian Edmondson, here.


Adrian Edmondson & The Bad Shepherds

Posted by:

Chris Spann

Email: spann.chris@googlemail.com

Chris is a freelance writer and a guest author on wrexhammusic.co.uk. View Chris' blog here: www.chris-spann.co.uk
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  1. […] Read Chris’s review of the Bad Shepherds’ gig at Central Station, here. […]

  2. Sounds like the Good Captain has made a great impression at Central. Missed a good show all round by all accounts but sorry had to miss it as California was calling and lots of work to do to get the guys noticed out here in the States. You can catch them again at the Motorcycle Show in Llangollen this Saturday (Aug 1) I’m sure they will go down a storm. Thanks Central Station for doing your stuff with our local talent who are going places

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