Martin Chamarette.

For the sixth year running, The Urban Voodoo Machine bring their unique brand of ‘bourbon-soaked, gypsy blues bop n stroll’ to Bedford town. While their full, 12th annual ‘Gypsy Hotel’ extravaganza takes place in London the following evening, they have brought as much variety and colour as possible tonight. We are in the more intimate Holy Molys room in the venue, which, while surprising, actually suits the band better. Yes, all eight of them, plus guests.

And warming up the audience tonight is the local, honey-throated Adrian Stranik, of The Broadway Twisters, with an acoustic set, ably assisted by Long John Laundry on harmonica. A fitting start to proceedings.

If you’re even vaguely aware of The Urban Voodoo Machine, you’ll know that they don’t do half-measures. So saying, the delightful Trixie Tassels brings her burlesque show to, shall we say, increase the temperature somewhat. More of that later.

Taking to the stage in their customary, somber procession, The Urban Voodoo Machine are the definition of entertainment, for the more discerning, primal palette. Their ‘Theme’ is followed by ‘High Jeopardy Thing’ and the pounding ‘Cheers For The Tears’, but their setlists are always up for improvisation. It is clear from early on that these more intimate surroundings work to the band’s advantage. Hence, their no.1 rule, ‘Shut the fuck up’, is more or less adhered to by the audience. Certainly more so than in previous years, which helps no end during the quieter songs.

‘Fallen Brothers’ feels more celebratory tonight than in the last couple of years. Rob Skipper and Nick Marsh could never be forgotten, naturally, but this line up is certainly establishing itself and carrying on their fine work. There is a sense of fun and mischief tonight. Paul-Ronney Angel picks someone from the crowd as “drinks roadie” for the evening, climbs the speakers and, falling forward, is carried to the bar and back, mic in hand. It was that kind of night.

Between all that, there was ‘Crazy Maria’, ‘Pipe And Slippers Man’, ‘Train Wreck’, ‘While We Were All Asleep’ and ‘Help Me, Jesus’. A two-hour set which seemed to fly by. And Ms. Tassels returned to provide a suitable finale, leading the band through the crowd whilst fire-eating. Seriously, what more could you want? It is always an unforgettable night with The Urban Voodoo Machine, which is why we keep coming back. See you next time. Cheers!

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