Writer and photographer Emily Doyle
As festival season draws to a close, the listings at the Hare and Hounds look more tempting than ever. Nestled amongst Total Luck’s single release party, Die Das Der’s bank holiday all-dayer, and the eagerly anticipated return of San Franciscan-noise rockers Deerhoof, is a Tuesday night show from The Handsome Family.
It’s been postponed since 2020, but holders of the (now sold out) tickets haven’t forgotten about it – on arrival the queue stretches down York Road. I was hoping to slink past Table Scraps, who are playing in the other venue, but they are sitting outside waving as I arrive – not to brag but I kind of know them.
I awkwardly wave back and join the growing queue. You can’t make it to them all.
Opening the show is Chicago songwriter Daniel Knox, whos jaunty piano-led narratives have caught the attention of Jarvis Cocker, Rufus Wainwright, and even David Lynch. His rich baritone keeps the growing audience in a hushed silence.
Knox’s self-deprecating tone – “I’m not a guy who apologises for being bad…more like your friend makes you some really good food and you find a hair in it but you just quietly remove it because you don’t want to be rude”- is endearing in combination with this wry lyrics, written out on scraps of paper which he screws up and throws on the floor after completing each song.
The person next to me excitedly tells me she last saw them at the Glee Club, way back in 2006. It’s pretty clear she’s not the only long-time fan as the band begin with a lilting rendition of ‘No One Fell Asleep Alone’ from 2001’s Twilight, and the audience glows.
The set is a tour through their extensive back catalogue, held together by a joyous chemistry between the husband-and-wife duo Brett and Rennie Sparks. They playfully jibe at each other before slipping back into perfectly harmonised vocals, and it feels like you’ve been invited into their home to sit by the fire while they prepare dinner.
But “dinner” is actually a collection of spellbinding gothic americana. The macabre narratives are underpinned by haunting pedal steel courtesy of Alex McMahon.
There’s no doubt, this show has been worth the wait for all concerned, and no one seems to mind that the tour t-shirts say ‘Spring 2020’ on them.
For more on The Handsome Family visit www.handsomefamily.com
For more on Daniel Knox visit www.danielknox.com
For more gigs and events at the Hare and Hounds visit www.hareandhoundskingsheath.co.uk