Scott H Biram & Ags Connolly at Jumping Hot Club, Newcastle

_MG_2725Scott H Biram JHC at the Cluny RM

Scott H Biram & Ags Connolly

Jumping Hot Club

The Cluny

Newcastle  1

16th April 2015

   Although not originally billed as such; but with Ags Connolly’s debut album How About Now picking up national radio play there were more than enough people in the venue when he came on stage to merit such a title.

  With hardly any introductions Connolly, looking uncannily like Otis Gibbs opened with his sad Country song A Good Memory For Pain; which received a very warm response from the rapidly filling hall.

  Not only on record; but also when he sings live Connolly has a deep, warm baritone voice that can only come from one of the Southern States of America; but no; when he introduces the songs he actually has a broad British West Country accent and the juxtaposition is almost comical and something he occasionally plays on.

  Accents apart Connolly’s are part of something he calls Ameripolitan; a movement launched and headed (apparently) by JHC favourite Dale Watson; so it’s no surprise that a Classic Country; specifically Bakersfield sound permeates his songs especially on a song called Ameripolitan, When Country was Proud and his ode to his own Country Hero, I Saw James Hand, which was followed by one of Hand’s own songs.

  Connolly may not play the guitar as well as Chet Atkins, but his guitar certainly knew that it had been played at the end of the night.

_MG_2585Ags Connolly JHC at the Cluny RM

  The short set ended with the well crafted and catchy How About Now and Connolly left the stage to long and loud applause; and was subsequently followed to the merch table like the Pied Piper. A busy year beckons for Connolly and I expect to see him headlining at this venue sooner rather than later.

  Obviously the majority of the audience had come to see Scott H Biram; and there was an excited air of expectancy as the stage was re-set for the ‘most dangerous man in Country’.

  I knew very little about Biram’s music in advance; so forgive me if I get titles wrong or just miss them out; but this was a concert more about ‘mood’ than the actual songs(I think).

  With hardly any lighting to speak of and a well worn trucker cap pulled over his eyes; Biram took his seat centre stage, with a wall of speakers behind him and four monitors in front; and with no greetings he selected a battered Gibson semi-acoustic from a rack, plugged it in and BOOM! He created such a massive noise I actually had to take a step back from my vantage point. The grizzled voice singer then growled his way through Going Down Slow much to the delight of his adoring fans.

  Two chords into I’m Going Home there was a roar of recognition from the two hundred plus goggle-eyed fans; and this repeated several times.

  At times Biram became so engrossed in his songs they became a series of yelps and growls; the best example being Graveyard Shift; but the experience was quite mesmerizing for a first timer like me.

  As the gig progressed Biram alternated between four world weary and well used (knackered) guitars, a series of effects pedals and the star of the show – his foot controlled stomp board; which produced sounds that were scary at times.

  In some ways Scott H Biram is a simple Blues Musician with a worn baritone voice, but in others ways is as complicated as a Pink Floyd concert, as he crashes through the Blues, Country, Gospel, Gothic and even Folk music like a bull elephant on PCP but in a clever and well crafted manner. At one stage while theatrically sipping from a pint of Guinness he apologised for being ‘too sober;’ but no one gets to develop a sound like this by being a drunk.

  Much like Connolly earlier in the night, Biram isn’t the subtlest of guitar players and on the funky Open Road I noted that his finger tips must be calloused beyond belief or made of steel; fast and furious doesn’t even come close.

  For a lot of the hyper-ventilating crowd the highlight of the night was a song called Still Drunk, Still Crazy, Still Blue which had them trying to sing a long with it; but failed miserably and the two most annoying women in the world tried to drunkenly dance to it; but failed in a spectacular fashion (that nearly started a fight).

  Personally my favourite song was his tribute to Muddy Waters; as they share a birthday and his version of I Can’t Be Satisfied can only be described as ‘smoking’!

  Without even pretending to leave the stage Biram ended the evening by responding to fans repeated requests for his signature song; Blood, Sweat and Murder that was so full of thunder chords, growls, howls and sweat I thought he might implode.

 A very interesting evening that I thoroughly enjoyed apart from the two ‘look at me’ drunk women; who should have been ejected an hour before the end; but weren’t and spoilt the evening in a large way for several people around them. Harrumph. (photo-set)

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