Bellowhead - Water Rats, London

Tonight is an intimate gig to celebrate the launch of the fourth Bellowhead record Broadside, and I feel rather out of place in the densely packed Water Rats due to fact I am not dressed as a pirate. Most of North London, it seems, has suddenly transformed into a lawless refugee fuelled on free rum and pies made from the innards of scurvy-ridden cabin boys.

Most the set is dedicated to performing the entirety of the sparkling new album, albeit in an entirely different order. Live the songs come across as very different beasts, with certain favourites ('Old Dun Cow', 'The Wife Of Usher's Well') failing to be as bold as their recorded versions, whilst others ('Dockside Rant', 'Go My Way') come to life as they transform into all-singing, all-dancing extravaganzas.

Of course, the likes of 'Byker Hill' and '10,000 Miles Away' show their strength no matter of format, and promise to join the ranks of star pieces in double quick time. Despite only being released forty eight hours prior, the chorus of "Byker Hill and Walker Shore, Collier lads forever more" is quickly taken up by thronged mass and belted out in true celebratory style.

But once the business side of the night is over, Bellowhead relax and really shine with some comfortable classics that have established the band as one of the most fun live experiences on the circuit. Whether it is 'Sloe Gin' or 'New York Girls', the crowd are jumping and jigging to these old friends with a childish enthusiasm stoked by these playful tunes. Now, time to re-fill this flagon and dance some more!

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