Friday night seemed to be back to its busy busy usual. I fought my way through the bright lights, crowds of people, lines of cars to arrive at Blackpool Central Library to find out what happens when a band regularly referred to as ‘post-punk’ comes to a town that’s hosts the annual Rebellion Punk Festival and a place where punk seems to have never left.
MUSH Leeds based out-fit were Blackpool Libraries first collaboration with Get it Loud in Libraries to bring live music to a place where you are traditionally encouraged to keep the noise down. Get it Loud in Libraries is a unique project that has been delivering high quality gigs in libraries across the UK since 2005. This was not my first library gig and I looked forward to another night of beats between the books.
I arrived just before 8.00PM to be greeted by one of the libraries team asking if I wanted a permit for street parking, I declined and explained I had just experienced something that felt like a training run for pod racing in just walking there.
As I entered the library the usual warm welcome from the staff was there but the rows of books in the central hall were gone. The room to the right had the computer desks pushed back and the stained glass windows now looked on over the sound engineers mixing console. The stage had been set against the backdrop of ‘We’re Sew Done’, Aunty Social’s powerful and thought provoking installation of work that explores the harassment of women across the town. It seemed the band requested for this to be the location of their gig tonight, but I was unable to find out more.
I looked around the room, numbers were low, and so I pondered where were the ‘usual music loving suspects’, the punk die hards and the new generation of music followers?
It wasn’t long to wait before four lads from Sunderland sauntered on to the stage. It was time for ‘Roxy Girls’ to fill the library full of driven energy, regularly reminiscent of ‘Gang of Four’. The band, like a car with ‘kangaroo juice’ changed tempo, direction and intent without blinking, like a cyclist with any breaks heading down the hill from Penshaw Monument. With the beats often reaching a break neck pace it is no wonder the snare drum gives up and while Mush drummer Phil Porter steps in to offer his, a version of Norwegian Wood starts to fill the room as the replacement snare is set up. Tom Hawick captures the moments of too much TV through lockdown to singing about his Nanna’s cooking. It is clear to see why the band has some champions on BBC 6 Music.
There was a moment of band to band camaraderie and appreciation as Roxy Girls finished and began to unplug and Mush entered the stage to plug in and go. In the brief sound check and set up Mush continued the nod to the Norwegian Wood experience.
Before you knew it Dan Hyndman introduces the band ‘we’re Mush, thanks for coming’, then they make their noise. Blunt Instruments lead the charge, quickly followed by Gig Economy. The quirky, yet observational lyrics and vocal style of Hyndman filled the library with narratives and a witty take on propaganda, mistruths and the bands view of the world. The band’s unique take and stripped back authenticity encouraged the head nod from the crowd and it wasn’t long the driving guitar and beats lulled some of Roxy Girls to join in proceedings with bouts of pogoing along with youthful excitement. Mush continued to work their way through their album Lines Redacted with the occasional diversion to the past. The album acts as a monument and testimony to the late guitarist and band member Steven Tyson, whose influence is still prevalent. Mush in moments reminded me of a raw and unfiltered version of Bennet, demonstrating the same entertainment value and potential.
Driving guitar riffs, melodic satire and offbeat irregularity seems to be working for them and may just guarantee them a place on playlists to come.
Both bands gave their all and played as if there was a full house. I can’t help but feel for both bands it is one small chapter for emerging bestselling novels.
I exited the main doors and entered back in to Blackpool’s Friday night malaise with my ears ringing, a smile on my face and my heart hopeful for the music makers of tomorrow.
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