|The Urban Voodoo Machine/Slaughterhouse Cats - Leeds, Brudenell Social Club - 11 March 2017|
|Written by Ben Hughes|
|Tuesday, 21 March 2017 04:00|
"We are The Urban Voodoo Machine and we play bourbon soaked gypsy blues bop 'n' stroll music and we will be doing it for a very long time!" So proclaimed Paul-Ronney Angel from the stage at the climax to the band's triumphant return to the best venue in the north -The Brudenell Social Club in Leeds.
The band have just begun a tour promoting latest album 'Hellbound Hymns' with a run of weekend gigs that will see them through until September time. While I believe this band are the best live band on the circuit right now, the last couple of times I have seen them there has been something not quite right. Not that they have been bad, far from it, but with the band in mourning for the loss of two much loved band members, the gigs have been darker, not the usual party and carnival atmosphere I have come to expect from this band.
Now with a seemingly permanent guitar player in Tony Diavolo (more about him in a bit) the band seem to have upped the ante yet again.
First up though we have psychobilly/rockabilly four piece Slaughterhouse Cats to warm things up nicely. The singer/guitarist and the dude playing upright bassist look like they live and breathe Rockabilly and have been for many, many years. Their leathered skin covered in the many tattoos that are a testament to the music they play. The young guitar player on the other hand, looks decidedly out of place next to the duo, but he certainly has the tremolo induced chops to hold down their brand of rock 'n' roll to the max. They play it hard and fast and go down well, good stuff.
The usual band procession to the stage from The Urban Voodoo Machine is replaced tonight with a touch of comedic theatre in the shape of a certain green drummer. The late J-Roni-Mo goes around every instrument on the stage to much amusement, trying to find the instrument that works for him, until he finds his drums. The band then join and it's straight into instrumental 'Police Paranoia'. New guitar player Tony Diavolo plays maracas on this and he fits right in with his sharp suit and painted red face to match, he comes from down under Mr. Angel tells us later, and he doesn't mean Australia.
Then it's straight into live favourite 'High Jeopardy Thing' and things are up and running. The brass heavy song harks back to a time of sweaty juke joints and smokey bars. Yep, the band are on fire and the full-on carnival atmosphere is back. P-R has the whole room in the palm of his hand by now, the ringmaster in full control of the show. Cuban, mariachi and rock 'n' roll meet somewhere in the middle to a back drop of black 'n' red.
Tonight we get an eight-legged groove machine, which has been a constant for the last few shows I have seen anyway. The duo of George 'Le Boner' Simmonds on trumpet and the sultry baritone sax of Lucifire are the perfect accompaniment to the various acoustics, accordion and percussion that make up the The Urban Voodoo Machine sound.
'Fallen Brothers' is played early, dedicated to those who could not be here tonight. It's a solemn song that turns into a party, a rousing drinking song, from the funeral to the wake in 3 minutes flat. Beers are downed sharpish so that hands can clap and sway in time to the music as the frontman and accordion player Slim lead us through tune after tune.
The great thing about an UVM show is that it is more than just about the songs, it is entertainment. While the focus is mainly on the frontman, eyes are drawn to wonder at the chaos that ensues as eight members work the stage and pass bottles of wine and beer between themselves. Whether its watching the comedy slapstick, almost Laurel and Hardy behaviour, of drumming duo J-Roni-Mo and Jary, or the striking and sparkly Lucifire do her thing. But now with the addition of Tony Diavolo on guitar, we have a new character to watch. My eyes are drawn to the player with his devilish painted face, he certainly is a cool cat who fits right in. He handles the licks and vocals like he has been there forever and is a welcome addition to The Urban Voodoo Machine family.
'Pipe and Slippers Man' and 'Help Me Jesus' flow by, now well and truly embedded in the set. Highlights tonight? A cracking 'Orphan's Lament' and the ensuing arm waving from the whole crowd as we sing the "la la la" bits.
Songs are extended and jammed out, there is comedy, there is theatre and there is audience participation. Everyone who is here tonight gets their money's worth.There are no refunds and there will be none demanded. The band give it their all, Paul-Ronney Angel literally rings the sweat from his headscarf at one point.
An extended 'Goodbye To Another' year completes a two hour show and the band leave the stage still leaving the bewildered crowd wanting more. That's how you do it... job done, a masterclass of rock 'n' roll entertainment.
All the elements that make this band so great live were there tonight, be it blues, punk, rock 'n' roll, Cuban and mariachi music, mixed up with cabaret and theatre. This band have a side project called The Urban Voodoo Machine Marching Band, who will play your funeral, your wedding... hell they'd play at your conception if they could. The ultimate party band are alive and kicking and nothing will keep them down. I'll return to watch them do their thing time and time again.
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