Live music is the tonic we all need.
Following my thoughts on post-pandemic life and the Edinburgh Festival last week, I attended what was possibly the most life-affirming gig I have been to in a long, long while. In Kings Heath in Birmingham is the most brilliant venue, The Hare and Hounds. It’s compact, great beer and a lovely vibe. The gig in question was Wand frontman Cory Hanson promoting his latest solo album ‘Western Cum’ to a small but very switched-on audience. No support was advertised so when three figures took to the stage dressed as ZZ Top and announced themselves as Three Z Top there were smiles all round. And what a powerhouse they were, tearing through some early Top numbers as well as ‘Sunglasses’ before plunging into a note-perfect rendition of Black Sabbath’s ‘Warpigs’ presumably in tribute to being in Birmingham! It was a brilliant set complete with stage moves and wandering about the audience, and they were tight, very tight, above all clearly having a blast. I leant over to my neighbour and stated that I suspected it was Hanson and his band and was proved nearly right as 10 minutes after the Top left the stage Hanson emerged with his Top colleagues (his brother switching to guitar from bass) and an extra member joining them on bass.
The band’s name is Slowhand and between them and Cory Hanson himself they produced a wonderful set that took, amongst other things, most of the songs from the new album and gave them real depth. The musicianship on display for £15 was extraordinary but I know that this sort of thing is happening up and down the country every night as people get to see great talent for, literally, a song. Hanson stated how expensive it was to tour over here and I’m sure that the margins must be very thin but he can take it from me that, as a fan, his playing in that room is a memory I will have for a long time such was the genuine sense of communion as the musicians demonstrated their love of performance and entertaining an audience with humour and self-deprecation as well playing some cracking songs.
Will we get that at Wilco in London tonight? I hope so.
And speaking of playing cracking songs this week’s Sounds from beyond the Shed radio show features The Felice Brothers and Jonathan Wilson as part of my rundown of the Top Ten Americana Acts as well as some Cory Hanson (couldn’t not), Bill Fay, John Prine, Mavis Staples, Patterson Hood and many more. Plus embarrassing chat about Todd Rundgren’s tackle as featured in the photo accompanying the radio show. As ever take what you want or need.