As a venue for music, The Brudenell Social Club is worthy any length of journey, never mind the relatively short forty five minutes it takes to arrive from Oldham. It provides a bizarre musical oasis in the midst of Yorkshire terraces, an amalgamation of locals out for a few drinks “down’t club,” with the conveniently located student population more interested in the cream of underground music which passes through the locale on a regular basis. Definitely a case of once visited, never forgotten.
The Travelling Band fit perfectly with the surroundings, their lack of image, perversely becoming their image. Described earlier by Jo Dudderidge as a band of the people, for the people, all five members could stroll around anonymously, not engaging the “we must look different, like a band” ethos. Lead guitarist Mugger especially maintains a look of an individual stopped in the street, having a guitar thrust in their hand with the direction “go and stand on that stage for an hour.” His and the bands general anonymity is lost however as they take the stage, the first notes struck. The Travelling Band is a collection of people born to play music, not through a desire for commercial success, more a calling, a way of life. The five piece thrive in the live arena, if a few people turn up along the way to watch and listen, all the better, if not, they’ll still give absolutely everything. Speak with Adam Gorman and Jo Dudderidge, who share vocals, guitars and keyboards, a more softly spoken pair you’ll struggle to find, place them on a stage performing their songs.......everything changes. An intensity and passion pervades, providing the main focus throughout.
Predominantly as you would expect, tonight’s set is based around latest album “Screaming is Something” eight out of the ten tracks being aired. For anyone regarding The Travelling Band as just another folk outfit, that particular myth is dispelled within minutes. Opening with the title track from the new album, the rock undertones spring to the surface, even during “One Dime Blues” borrowing the lyrics and title to a Blind Lemon Jefferson song, their arrangement adds harder elements to the more traditional guitar picked opening.
What becomes apparent as they continue through “Me and the Horizon and” Fairweather Friends,” The Travelling Band could adopt any direction within their music, not tied to a genre or a style, their versatility plain to see, the version of “Lanes of Names” absolutely immense, highlighting the integral contribution provided by Chris Spencer on bass and particularly in this instance, Nick Vaal on drums. Neither would look out of place visually or musically in a hardcore outfit. The heavier aspect is enhanced further after Mugger dedicates “Magnetic Anywhere” to Ellen, of Escapades fame, attending on her birthday. As the track closes, Dudderidge announces a celebratory rock out, complete with feedback, dry ice and poses worthy of Judas Priest. Conversely “Weary Beaten Road” includes a section of the most gorgeous off mike, A cappella harmonies provided by Dudderidge, Gorman and perhaps more surprisingly Mugger, producing complete silence within the audience. The set closes with an intense and spectacular “On The Rails” ending as Gorman waves his Telecaster in the air, almost appearing ready to be trashed and Dudderidge slumped over the keyboards in true Keith Emerson style.
Any concerns I may have harboured over the reduction last year in personnel from a six piece to a five piece were dispelled early in the evening, the encore of “Hindsight” and “Sweet City” further enhanced, little if any loss of the enormous sound The Travelling Band produce live.
For me to write objectively about The Travelling Band is difficult, being hooked from the first exposure to “Desolate Icicle” from the debut “Under The Pavement” album. I would however urge anyone who enjoys live music to attend a show near you at the earliest opportunity, they really are one of the U.K’s finest bands, biased or not.
Photos By Russ Learmont