The Burning Hell - Eagle Inn, Salford
The Eagle Inn is a cosy pub venue hidden on Manchester’s former residential outskirts. We imagine a past with The Burning Hell's creative drive - the anecdotally gifted Mathias Kom - sitting on a rocking chair with pipe in mouth, warmed by the red bricked music room’s roaring fireplace, recounting the day’s stories to an enthralled audience from the then occupied surrounding buildings.
This afternoon's anecdotes include 'The Road' from the Canadian indie/folk rock band's recent album Public Library, describing the closeness of touring with a full band, visible on this tight stage. Kom beams at fellow members during their solo turns like the most enthusiastic parent at their child's school sports day, including dry witted Jake Nicoll on drums, and raucous Darren Browne on guitar. Ariel Sharratt on clarinet and saxophone sometimes love duets with Kom, but it’s bassist and – it’s revealed – big Lion King fan Nick Ferrio who can feel the love tonight, as the two men share a microphone performing a joyful rendition of 'The Things That People Make, Part 2'. Indicative of a lyrical style: "You’ll be the last giant panda bear / I’ll be the last giant panda bear sperm / You’ll be the baby bird / And I’ll be the regurgitated worm", endearing but playful with tongue in various parts of the cheek.
The squeezed in, loud but respectful, audience offer high quality feedback. On Kom swapping his acoustic for electric guitar, one sharp mind cries “Judas!” in reference to Bob Dylan's infamous show almost fifty years to the day at Manchester Free Trade Hall. Canadians are famous for their politeness rather than sarcasm so Kom's retort, “I used to play the ukulele as my main instrument but then I switched to guitar, and I really expected somebody to make this joke then. But thanks for making it now!" is taken in its intended spirit, with the sarcastic muzzle of an unrelentingly friendly dog. There's friendly banter between band members, Kom teases Sharratt securing her saxophone with a laptop bag strap. Rock and roll improvisation at its most frugal.
A love of music connects band and audience, the former isn’t in this game for the money as discussed with TMF in a recent interview. Kom's soft tones describe the background to 'Men Without Hats', a 90s indie pop tinged super catchy coming-of-age story about the anticipation, embarrassment, then release on buying one's first single. There's corporeal love as Sharratt usurps Ferrio for a girl-boy performance of 'Fuck the Government, I Love You' based on Kom and her first meeting, their vocals setting one another off beautifully as those who caught their love duets album or tour expect. It’s not quite "This is how your mom and I first met" but the loud audience sighs of "Ahhhh!" are more moving than teasing – Kom generally bares his soul alone, but things are more fun in pairs.
The band wish all well on departing into the early evening before a surprise finish: Browne on guitar sings lead vocals to Richie Valens's ‘La Bamba’ provoking dancing to the music and whooping at the solos even more than before. The Burning Hell leave their audience facially exhausted, as beaming for an hour will do. A lovely afternoon of jaunty favourites and new stories in the company of occasionally cheeky but always good friends.
Men Without Hats
The Things That People Make, Part 2
Fuck the Government, I Love You
It Happens in Florida
La Bamba (Ritchie Valens cover)
The Burning Hell’s current album, Public Library is available from all good record shops, including from the BB*ISLAND label. You can read our review here.
Photo credit: Jonathan Briggins