A rush of blood to the head like Johnny Ace…


An absolutely splendid evening last night at the Frog & Fiddle inCheltenhamin the magical company of Trembling Bells with Bonnie Prince Billy. A terrific event – one of the best…

I can’t imagine how Richard at Kiss My Face managed to get Will Oldham to come to the intimate surroundings of the Frog & Fiddle in Cheltenham, but a glance around YouTube shows that this must be one of the smallest gigs he’s played for a long time – the previous time I saw him was in the relatively palatial setting of Colston Hall. I remember coming away from that gig thinking that it’d been a fairly detached almost cold performance, and how much better it’d be to see him at a small venue.

Ah. Prescience…

There’s a real spirit of eccentricity about Oldham and Trembling Bells’ joint release, The Marble Downs, and you could really see it in the interplay betweenOldhamand singer Lavinia Blackwall as soon as they set up.

Having made a fairly coy appearance for one song of the acapello warm up of Muldoon’s Picnic, Oldham trooped on for the main set, clad in purple scarf shrouding his face like a boxer, with the ubiquitous baseball cap, a blue blazer, jeans and open toe sandals. I was tickled to see that he’d also painted his finger (and toe) nails black for the occasion. It was also good to see that Oldham has developed a whole new set of physical tics, at times thrusting one stiff-palmed arm aloft, at others gripping his trousers intently. At different points, he also played guitar, kazoo and some sort of melodica.

Launching into the poignant harmonies of Lord Bless All right from the start, they played one of the best sets I’ve seen for absolutely ages, an absolute belter. Blackwall’s voice soared over and underOldham’s harsher tones, sometimes to soulful effect sometimes in raucous good time country and western sing-along’s. It was as if they know they have a great collection of songs and were keen to belt the shit out of them.

Most of the tracks from Marble Downs were represented, and a few songs from the Palace Brothers song book were added. We were also treated to a Merle Haggard cover (The Bottle Let Me Down) from Blackwall and a great version of Scott Walker’s Duchess. Highpoints were the acid exchanges of I Can Tell Your Leaving, and the bittersweet observations of Love is a Velvet Noose.

I’ve recorded the set, but there are a few glitches and a few interventions from over-enthusiastic punters (guilty as charged…). Here are some of the best bits:

I Can Tell You’re Leaving


My Husband’s Got No Courage in Him / Riding

New Year’s Eve’s the Loneliest Night of the year

Love is a Velvet Noose

What a treat…

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mike
    Apr 30, 2012 @ 09:33:47

    I travelled out from London to see this and boy, was it worth it. Of course, apart from the knobs around me beered up and talking the usual bolleaux during the quieter songs …. “oohh … isn’t this good”, “thanks for getting me tickets, by the way”, “Oh look, there’s “.
    I digress. Will’s voice seemed to really suit the venue as he bellowed out those spine tingling missives and some of his stage movements reminded me bizarrely of Ian Dury! Also, I loved the Thurston More-esque guitar beltings from behind. Fan-bloody-tastic!


    • partlyporpoise
      Apr 30, 2012 @ 21:20:22

      The stage poses were a treat, weren’t they? The outstretched hand was very reminiscent of Dury. Glad you enjoyed it, and I hope the good burgers of Cheltenham looked after you!


  2. Malcolm
    Apr 30, 2012 @ 16:24:23

    Nice review and recordings – thanks! Do you have a full setlist you could post?


    • partlyporpoise
      Apr 30, 2012 @ 21:26:14

      Setlist? I think so… Was kicking myself because the setlist was on the front of the stage clearly visible from where we were, should’ve taken a photo or something…

      I *think* it went like this… (although I guessed a couple of the names of songs I didn’t know):

      Lord Bless All
      I Made a Date (with an Open Vein)
      Joy of my Heart (?)
      New Year’s Eve’s The Loneliest Night Of The Year
      Love’s Made an Outlaw of my Heart
      Goat and Ram
      So Everyone
      Excursions Into Assonance
      Every Time I Close My Eyes (We’re Back There)
      All Gone All Gone
      I Can Tell You’re Leaving
      Medley: You are on the Bottom / There is no God / Bottle Let me Down
      Ain’t Nothing Wrong With A Little Longing
      My Husband’s Got No Courage In Him / Riding
      Love is a Velvet Noose

      Glad you liked the recordings, there are a few more, although, there was quite a lot of excited chattering that went on in our group, spoiling some of the tracks. I’ll put another couple up if you’re interested….


  3. Malcolm
    May 01, 2012 @ 12:32:53

    Great, thanks for posting that! fantastic set of songs – has made me even more excited to see them this weekend 🙂 Would love to hear some more tracks if you’re able to post


    • partlyporpoise
      May 01, 2012 @ 20:00:51

      Couple more here:
      [audio src="http://www.mediafire.com/file/suwwwaiigxzwpga/So_Everyone.mp3" /]
      [audio src="http://www.mediafire.com/file/md5gwt809t6f322/All_Gone.mp3" /]

      Have a good time at the weekend – you’re in for a treat. Enjoy the three song medley particularly!

      Let me know if you get any pix…


  4. ArthManual
    May 04, 2012 @ 20:41:33

    Man! ………….. Frog & Fiddle! i cant believe it…..one word springs to mind. Spoilt & another word…. Rotten! 😉


  5. partlyporpoise
    May 05, 2012 @ 07:56:19

    Three more for you, Arth, “and”, “lovin'” & “it”…


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