I had no high expectations when booking Holy Moly and the Crackers, I had seen a few videos and really liked what I heard but what I saw last night had my mind and senses “working overtime”.

The band had informed me that they would be providing their own support act – who happened to be their drummer Tommy Evans – who would give Keith Moon a run for his money. Tommy appeared casually and understated on stage to perform on guitar a set with the bands two guitarists (one on drums, this is where the instrument swapping starts, showing what versatile musicians the whole band are) that was so powerful and raw and included a mix of blues and rock classics that you really wondered how on earth were the band going to follow that. A truly amazing start to the evening, I along with many others thought perhaps we had seen the best of the evening…but we really should not have feared!

The band appeared on stage with lead singer Ruth Patterson coming on stage on her mobility scooter as a few years ago when a teenager she was diagnosed with chronic arthritis. Conrad Bird who shares the lead singers Holy Moly and the crackers concert reviewrole elegantly scooped Ruth off her scooter and placed her on her designated stool. What was to come from Ruth was a performance full of energy and charisma  that I have not seen from many artists…oh and what a wonderful voice, crisp and sensual that rang round Acapela’s high ceiling and her violin playing added so much to every second they are on stage.

The band proceeded to play a set of songs and instrumental numbers with their raucous instrument-swapping, squeezebox-growling, fiddle-shredding, brass-howling hoe-downs, from which the group have been able to hone a sound that is organic and invigorating – forged in the sweat and heat of the live show.

In addition to Ruth, characters abound the stage so that your eyes have to be everywhere. Conrad is a ball of energy and threw every little bit of strength into his mesmeric performance with his growling voice adding extra punch to the sound. Rosie Squeezbox is undoubtedly a fashion icon but her squeezebox provides a very dynamic punch to the bands unique sound. Tommy Evans now back on drums explodes continually with a riotous display of energetic drumming and discards clothes all night leaving the crowd wondering where would he stop!!

The band played to an audience that in truth, I would assume, had never heard of the band but by the end of the evening , everyone was on their feet giving a standing ovation which encouraged the band back on stage to perform a final encore.

I went home not being able to sleep, so excited and thrilled by what I had experienced. It doesn’t happen very often when a concert makes you feel so great – the last time it happened was a couple of years ago when I saw Archive in concert at the Zenith in Paris….but when it does …gosh it is good.

Paul James Programme Director