Haworth is a strange little village, tucked away in the valleys between Lancashire and Yorkshire, famous for its cobbled streets, steam trains and the home of the Bronte sisters. As a result, it has a lot of visitors, which means facilities and events that well outweigh its population. Due to local promoter John Lambert (some of you may know him better as Keeper of the New Model Army Shop) it has also hosted events that perhaps you would not expect of a village that is 4 miles from the nearest town and 10 from the nearest city. In the last 18 months alone, Haworth has played host to the likes of Justin Sullivan (of New Model Army), Ferocious Dog, Monster Jaw, James Atkin (lead singer of EMF), Folkestra, Skeletal Family, Joe Tilston (of Random Hand) and the Psycho Surgeons to name just a few (and it really is a few as there have been many more events over that period).
The line-up for this year’s Steam Punk Weekend looked to be just as promising as John and the organisers looked to build upon the success of last year’s event. Opening proceedings was Marc Le Crow, also known as the Crowman who had come up form Guernsey for the event. Marc is perfect for this event, half steam punk and half wild scarecrow. Mark plays folky / punky songs on guitar and banjo. They have a feel of tale telling and blues but it is The Crowman’s overall personality that wins through. It doesn’t take the Crowman long to unplug his electric banjo and take his travelling minstrel show straight out into the crowd. Stomping and stamping his way through the set and straight into the crowd’s admiration. Marc (also vocalist with garage rock band Thee Jenerators) won over the crowd and after a short set had turned the crowd around, shouting for more, a great start.
Next there was a forced change from the advertised listing as Blackballed, the headline band, were forced to pull out due to an injury to one of the band members. Not wanting to let the event down; Marshal Gill, better known as the lead guitarist of New Model Army agreed to be what turns out to be his first ever solo set. Those of us there were lucky enough not only to witness this but also to be treated to a set full of warmth, humour, great rock songs and some superb guitar playing.
Away from his day job with New Model Army and Blackballed, Marshall was obviously nervous but he dealt with this brilliantly with his humour, stopping between songs, to chat to the audience, make a few jokes and wind down some time as he claimed. It worked well. The set itself was great. He had his guitar set up blues style, so you had that nice large echoey sound that works so well for blue based rock and Marshall himself has a strong voice which suits the music.
Blackballed have recently released their debut album Colossus, so Marshall was able to delve into this catalogue and to be honest his 45 minutes went by way too fast. What also impressed was his guitar playing, I have seen what he is capable of with in New Model Army but by himself he was able to entertain just with his guitar playing alone and it’s not often you see that. For me I am looking forward to seeing Marshall playing solo again or when all back into full health seeing Blackballed perform. Definitely one of the best solo performances I have seen in recent years.
This just left Rock Bottom Risers with the task of slipping into the headline slot. Luckily this is a band more than capable of doing so and as soon as they struck up their first few chords they had everyone up and dancing. This is the second time I have seen them this year and they have impressed both times.
They describe themselves as alternative / blues and I have heard many people compare them to Kasabian. It is easy to see this comparison with respect to the well-crafted songs and powerful live performance, vocally the lead singer belts out the lyrics is similar style with plenty of back up from the rest of the band on backing vocals. For me they also have a touch of the more 70’s bands like The Faces to what they are doing as well. What this basically adds up to is a good time blues rock band that know how to entertain and were more than capable of the headline slot they ended up in. Really strong set, delivered with confidence. What’s so important and always disappoints me is when bands just stand there and deliver the songs.
RBR Look like they are having a blast every time they play and that’s contagious. Look forward to seeing more of them in 2016.