Review by Tim Lee
Halloween Rockabilly Party, Pink Peg Slax, Blues Bar, Harrogate.
The Montpellier area’s illumination is quite something.
The vibrant café bar and restaurant culture, all tactfully lit, perhaps to entice the more discerning punter, is very attractive indeed.
Slap bang in the middle of all this stands the Harrogate Blues Bar.
Its large glass frontage highlighting a warm inviting interior is a temptation to all who pass which is aided and abetted by the venues stage being part of the front window.
Pink Peg Slax, John Peel faves and NME music press darlings are touting a ‘best of’ album, Rock-a-beery-boogie, which makes for a highly-charged Halloween party night, at which the finest Rockabilly this side of the Atlantic was to be played.
The three piece line up, Vince Berkeley, Abner Cavanagh and Jonny Hick were hell-bent on raising the spirits of rock ‘n roll. Presley, Vincent and Cochran were in the house.
Opening with the driving Mud On My Clothes with its refrain, head Like a mule, it quickly became apparent many of the Slax’s self-penned songs are a paragon to strong lager, lost nights and the strange places and conditions one can end up in.
Berkeley, lead vocalist envisages pure-Elvis, mixed with Sinatra swagger and the smooth croon of Bing Crosby with, perhaps, a little Monty Python thrown in too.
The Blues Bar crowd totally get it and as the band ramp up the tunes, this place is really rockin!
Jonny Hick on double bass weighs in with a couple of tunes with a real jump-blues feel to his playing, complimented by his dead-pan vocal style, which makes for a brilliant rendition of Don Woody’s Barking up the wrong tree’. This has the crowd barking along with them.
The two-set format allowed much half-time refreshment for the now-packed blues bar; I nearly found myself on stage with the band
People were dancing, and the band fed off the atmosphere, playing a rendition of their first single, Dripping (My Love For You), followed by Eat More Meat, Berkeley’s lyrical riposte to the Morrissey Meat is Murder era of the 1980s, backed by Abner Cavanagh’s hilarious backing vocals. Classic stuff!
Halloween night hasn’t felt this good for some time. It was ‘job done’ by the Pink Peg Slax. I believe it was their first time playing Harrogate. It certainly won’t be their last.