One Trick Pony Club is a curious name; the Moseley watering hole, that once had its staff dance on the bar to ‘YMCA’ at the end of each night, took a significant u-turn since last November.
And whilst change isn’t always progressive, or well executed, this M&B boozer mercifully shelved its shamrocks and joined the operator’s Castle Pub chain – bringing in a fresh decor, menu, ents calendar and (hopefully) crowd to the Alcester Road venue.
Music is back on the bill, but instead of the Ceol Castle castoffs and cover bands there is a bi-weekly Thursday night live music showcase curated by Killer Wave, followed by a weekend of DJ Collective bringing you ‘a sweet sweet selection of pretty much everything that’s good upon the ears.’
And so far, so good; acts from the ethereal electronica of I Am Anushka, to the… slightly louder Spit, Shake, Sisters have underpinned a grass roots line up that’s been pretty respectable. And it’s free, so stuff it – another cider please.
Tonight is a double bill from Midnight Bonfires and Byron Hare; the later just starting as I squeeze towards the back of the room and balance my pint on the condiments table. Playing on a small, open rostrum with their backs to the beer garden, Byron Hare kick off with some unashamed Blues Rock and vocals that could floor a rhino.
I look around and see the venue is open plan and a little divided, with one half feeling more inclined to drink than dance – whilst the other half crack on in true teenage house party style, loud and regardless. A mini gripe, and one not really to be helped, but Gripe No1. Or Gripe No ½. But the sound is good, the stage is close, and it’s reassuring to be watching live music in a Mosley venue not surrounded by kids or ketamine. Or both.
Byron Hare march through a confident set, stepping from prog Rock to California Pop to 60’s Psychedelia, ending up at what the closing hours of the Fillmore on a Tuesday would probably have been like. There are moments of Janis Joplin and Jefferson Airplane, with everything going smoothly until an overzelous cymbal drowns me out at the end of the set. Gripe No1 ½.
Jodie Ollis’s vocals are outstanding thoughout, with the whole band bringing something to their live performance I had not appreciated through their previous recordings – as much of a blessing/curse as this situation can be. But as musicians on stage go, this six piece homage to the Summer of Love are certainly worth a few Shekels – although perhaps lacking something that’ll pay more Sterling or Euro.
Then, as the once fragmented crowd turn en mass to the front, it’s Midnight Bonfires to the stage. I kid not, I’m at the bar during the changeover (with my back to the room) and when I turn around pint in hand, it’s like a small controlled evacuation has moved everyone 3metres to the right. So rounding us up to Gripe No3, if you’re actually in the venue – try and give all acts on stage some appreciation, or at least sideways attention. To the naughty step audience.
Midnight Bonfires open with ‘Fingertips’ and ‘Sibial’, jumping from light to dark and Pop to Punk undertones, before front man David Langley explains “it’s been a balmy night, on a wild breeze,” with cheeky irreverence. Are they happy? Do they need water? Whiskey? A hug? I honestly can’t tell.
Moving into ‘Even in the…’ with a slow, almost calypso rim tap rhythm, a few stalwart favourites get hung out next with ‘Lights Out’ and ‘Existence’. I am trying not to make anymore references that I’ll later regret , but there is homage in the air tonight and I’m beginning to choke. A bit. A swig of cider clears my throat. But I’m still waiting for the, as someone surmises for me later in the evening, that ‘shiver down the spine’.
Three tracks from their new Oxygen EP come next, with the soft and plucky ‘Dear Lady’ sitting very pretty next to a welcome resurgence of ‘Misbehave’; a cracking song, owned to the core, and a perfect showcase for the see saw of style and talent that this band exude. The title track, ‘Oxygen’, follows – with its subtle staccato verse a little drowned out by THE CHATTER that has snuck off the naughty step to stand front, centre and with mouths in motion. Gripe No 4.
Midnight Bonfires close off their set with the cheeky and new song ‘Shiver Shiver’, before the chorus of ‘St James’ has me singing along despite having no idea of the words. A good thing, to everyone not standing next to me.
It’s a shame, nay travesty, that a venue situated so safely this dainty suburb, with its immediate neighbours either a 9-5 business, park or duel carriageway, is one of the ones not to have a later license. Moseley passed this precedent a while ago, with ‘societies’ and ‘associations’ now prepared to talk sensibly with licensees and promoters; there is some village momentum, and One Trick Pony Club should be a shoe in.
But I’m sure they’ll get round to it. There is a reassuring track record behind some of the new faces, and summer is coming. It would be good to see what more they can do.
M&B have invested in Moseley village and didn’t, that I know of, fight too contentiously for a later licence across the road – which is next to residents. So I say give One Trick Pony Club a fair crack at the whip. After all, change is also inevitable.
For more on Midnight Bonfires, visit http://midnightbonfires.com/
For more on Byron Hare, visit http://byronhare.co.uk/
For more on One Trick Pony Club, visit http://www.onetrickponyclub.co.uk/