Post-Apocalyptic Brass With Diddy Sweg At Hare & Hounds 21/07/2022

Writer Reece Greenfield / Photographer Connor Pope

I’ll try, but I am pretty sure I’m incapable of saying anything critical about Diddy Sweg’s performance on Thursday 21 July at the Hare and Hounds.

As we wait for the acts to take the stage, an incredibly 70s looking scouse couple carrying cans of Stella and a baby doll keep us all entertained with repeated utterances of “Fuck off!” and “Hey Terry, hold the Baby will ya!?”

…What on earth?

The night begins with Kitty Monroe, a burlesque dancer who takes the stage to the sounds of sleazy, speakeasy jazz music, bringing an atmosphere most apropos. She arrives after a brief introduction by the evening’s compère and member of Diddy Sweg – Disco Chin and begins to weave a narrative of a Tinder date.

After brief and sexually charged flirtatious looks at her phone, she begins the ritual of waxing one’s legs. The jazz abruptly ends at a violent record skip and thus begins Whitney Houston’s ‘I Will Always Love You’ to which Kitty, with full operatic grace, forcefully removes the wax strips (at one time with audience participation to whoops and whistles). She concludes her set debilitated from the ambitious double groin wax strip before crawling out of the door of the venue.

Diddy Swing (not Diddy Sweg) arrives, a trio of alto sax, upright bass, and drums. They begin to unleash a colourful sonic array of well executed jazz amidst impatient demands of “play the eternal triangle!”. Their second piece takes a Latin turn and each audience member’s hips begin to move to the bossa nova pulse and delicate samba fingers.

Hereafter, the players begin to take solos and I am struck by how excellently melodic Dinky Raekwon’s saxophone playing is, and how adeptly the bass player Dirk Bowman Jr’s fingers manage to shred what looks to the unfamiliar eye to be a cumbersome instrument. Eventually, after the time between each triangle-related exclamation begins to lessen, the crowd finally get their wish, and ‘The Eternal Triangle’ begins with the whole crowd humming along to the complex sax lines.

Jazz crowds – gotta love ’em.

Now it’s time for the main event, the delectable Diddy Sweg – consisting of the capricious Disco Chin on vocals and trumpet, the cool F-Bomb on baritone bass, the masked (and terrifying) General Smiles on drums, and the almost offensively 90s Dangerous Illegal on trombone. Their set begins with offensively groovy and heavy synchronised brass/wind which makes everyone smile and bop enthusiastically.

Disco Chin then turns the whole band into a karaoke version of Shania Twain’s ‘Man, I Feel Like a Woman’ with the scouse husband (Terry Garlic) coming on stage to fill in on trumpet. Yes, of course we sang along word for word.

After another course change into the aptly chorused ‘Modern Day Apocalypse’ karaoke night reprises. Terry and Sherry Garlic now take the stage and do the most endearing and hilarious cover of ‘Islands in the Stream’ by Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers. After this they return to original material and at this moment there’s a gap in my notes as I dance with Howard Dainty Hands, a socially awkward, tomato headed fellow.

After reminiscing between Disco Chin and Terry about the best karaoke performance ever, Howard enters the scene and perfectly executes Seal’s ‘Kiss from a Rose’ before remaining on stage to take brief instructions on how to play trumpet, then there’s an absolutely blistering solo.

Next, after more shouts of “I need some fucking charts!” (a running theme before each cover) it’s F-Bombs turn, with a brief deviation from cool mysteriousness she smashes out Missy Elliott’s ‘Get Ur Freak on’, after another stomping original with Diddy Swingers and a rendition of the karaoke classic ‘Tequila’, it’s General Smile’s time to arrive centre stage.

He stares menacingly at the crowd, demands a drummer fills in for him, removes his mask to reveal ANOTHER MASK and then goes into Electric Six’ ‘Gay Bar’. Another original, another rant about charts, and then Dangerous Illegal bursts into ‘Say You’ll be There’ by Spice Girls.

The finale involves repeated questions of whether we want to see a blue man dance… we did… we saw him dance, it was great, he refused to leave the stage and we didn’t want to leave either.

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