Daddy Long Legs, Rough Trade East, London, 16th May 2019

When a well-respected music fan informs you that the best band at last year’s Red Rooster Festival are performing an in-store at London’s Rough Trade East you know it’s got to be worth checking out. Over for an 8 leg(ged) tour of the UK to promote their new album, ‘Lowdown Ways’, Brooklyn-based trio Daddy Long Legs, played a mightily impressive 45 minute set of stompin’ and hollerin’ blues and R&B influenced music that at the end left the audience breathless and calling out for more.

Starting with ‘Theme from Daddy Long Legs’, Josh Styles the drummer lays down a pounding jungle drum-like beat, before the rest of the band chime in with the song’s footstompin’ rhythm and repeated hummed intro, accompanied by the harmonica playing of Brian Hurd. Coming across like the bastard children of the Pretty Things in their earlier days, allied to the Feelgoods, Howlin’ Wolf and the Downliners Sect, Daddy Long Legs’ driving old-style updating of the blues and R&B is often simple but brutally effective. Josh Styles, the drummer and maraca player, looks like a younger version of John Cooper Clarke, while birthday boy Murat Akturk resembles a fuller faced Al Pacino.

Meanwhile, baby-faced vocalist – come hollering preacher man – Brian Hurd, drives the band forward with great gusto on songs like ‘Evil Eye’ and ‘Death Train Blues.’ They’re as sharp musically as their dress sense – all shoelace ties, cowboy boots, and velour. Terrific songs from the new album like ‘Glad Rag Ball’ (to which we’re cordially invited) and ‘The Winners Circle’ rattle along like an express train, the latter sounding something akin to a super charged version of Chuck Berry’s ‘Promised Land.’

Featuring nine songs from the latest record, there’s ‘Mornin’ Noon & Nite’ in the vein of John Lee Hooker, while ‘Pink Lemonade’ with its Cramps-styled fuzzed lead guitar sound and ‘Bad Neighbourhood’ demonstrate the benefits of co-writes with JD McPherson.

Brian Hurd describes the band as “Rock and roll salvation through the spirit of roots and blues.” In truth, Daddy Long Legs are somewhat misnamed. More like a bunch of feral alley cats, there’s nothing fragile or delicate about these fellas. They finish with ‘Be Gone’ which again shows how effective the use of a harmonica with its range of tones and clean sound can be, fused with primal music of tub thumping directness. Here’s hoping they’ll be back before too long.

With thanks to David Handley for the photographs

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