Nevermind Bob Harris infamously declaring the New York Dolls as “mock rock”, in the run-up to tonight when asking Mrs H if she wanted to come along with me she took one listen to ‘Pocket Venus’ by tonight’s headliners and promptly declared the music to be too “plinky plonk” for her taste.
I mean c’mon, Bobby cunting Crush this most certainly is not. So, let me expand a little to avoid any possible further confusion.
Henri Herbert & The Fury is the three-piece outfit that the piano playing phenomenon (whose name forms the basis of the band) put together after the Jim Jones Revue disbanded in 2014, and since then he’s been channelling his influences of Jerry Lee Lewis, Hank Williams, Tom Waits and Otis Spann into an infectious mix of all the genres these guys specialised in. Got it? Good, now perhaps we can begin properly.
Opening up tonight’s show is Red Light Syndrome a guitar based four piece formed around the songwriting talents of ex-This System Kills guitarist Craigy (Two Tins) Rees. Playing their second show to date the most immediate thing that hits me when the band kicks off with ‘Still Nothing Yet’ is just how much they have gelled as a unit since their slightly nervous debut (which I also caught) just a few weeks earlier. Craigy appears much more at ease with his still new dual role as frontman and guitarist and proudly sporting a Husker Du baseball hat he wears his influences, well, on his head actually. To sum up, the band’s sound though you have to look a little wider than Minnesota’s finest to the likes of The Lemonheads and perhaps even Midway Still and Leatherface, as they are certainly on the more melodic side of the fence when it comes to the songwriting.
Its when Craigy feels at ease enough to joke with the audience that the true protentional of the band fully shines through though and in their self-dubbed ”emo” song ‘Train Wreck’ they have a song just waiting to become a scene favourite. Closing out proceedings with the seemingly apt ‘Heartburn’ (an earlier consumed fishcake was also playing havoc with my digestive system) this was a performance that stuck in my head for all the right reasons.
Returning to The Dollshouse after playing “the gig of the tour” last time around, Henri Herbert & The Fury are in no mood for messing around tonight demanding the already bustling crowd to enjoy the night as a rock ‘n’ roll show should be and not as a spectator sport, and I must admit I’m immediately swept up in the furore generated by the band. In fact, it isn’t until they hit the slightly slower and broodier strut of ‘Bad Blood’ midway into their set that I suddenly remember I’m actually supposed to be reviewing tonight and haven’t noted a single song. Oops, but I guess you understand this is exciting stuff you can’t stand still to, right?
Back in the review zone then and the covers of ‘Milkshake Mademoiselle’ and (the main set ending) ‘Fire’ are perhaps two of the most defining moments from tonight’s set as it takes a real special talent to make songs by Jerry Lee Lewis and Jimi Hendrix sound like your own, something the hugely talented Herbert and his Furies do with every bead of sweat they generate here tonight.
Returning for no less than five (or maybe it was six) encores it’s simply impossible to stand still when Henri Herbert & The Fury are in town, and at times tonight it’s like the BBC have brought ‘Strictly’ all the to the Valleys for a one-off rock ‘n’ roll dance off, all I’m missing is my regular dancing partner.
“Plinky plonk” … I ask you.
Author: Johnny Hayward