I didn't know what to expect. Having never seen The Lovely Eggs live, but hearing they are a dynamic band to go and watch, rave reviews of their live performances and their latest album had set the bar high. My only live experience of Holly Ross' music to date had been seeing her former band Angelica support Katastrophy Wife at the Garage in London in 2001. A great gig and for me at the time a dream line up.
Kat Bjelland produced Angelica's excellent long player “The Seven Year Itch” and took them on tour with her as she transitioned from the end of that era of Babes in Toyland to Katastrophy Wife. I spoke briefly to Holly Ross that evening after their set while the band were watching the headliner. Having had some (read multiple) train journey and gig beers I kept it simple saying “I really enjoyed your set, it was great” or some such. Holly thanked me and I stumbled off to enjoy the rest of the evening, I think making a reasonably good and dignified exit.
But that was nearly 17 years ago. Since Angelica stopped making music in the early 2000s Holly Ross went on to form The Lovely Eggs with her husband David Blackwell and they are currently touring in support of their newest album, their fifth, the brilliant and undefinable “This is Eggland”.
Despite the terrible forecast (what is a rock n' roll review without mentioning the weather...) it turned out beautiful. I mention this as sometimes different elements align and while waiting for my friend outside I watched the crowd arrive in the sunshine. Most were smiling, chatting, already in a fine mood, setting the scene ahead for the first band who are such a delight.
Mr Ben and the Bens are a happy band. This is a breath of fresh air. There are elements of Belle and Sebastian, but also musically at times their songs are reminiscent of Harvey Danger and Richard Hawley. They are gentle and joyful, but far from boring and they are a fine start to what turns out to be an incredible evening.
Like The Lovely Eggs Mr Ben and the Bens also hail from Lancaster, and the bands and artists tonight are clearly very supportive of one another, with Holly Ross helping briefly by hopping onstage when Ben has a minor equipment issue. When Ben plays the cornet, especially on "My Museum", it resonates in a gorgeous way around the Boileroom and by the end of the set I think they have found many new fans, myself included. They have a song about an imaginary nightclub, a make do following the closure of the actual only two nightclubs in their town, described as pretty slim pickings for a night out. The highlight however is "Fall in love again", taken from their forthcoming "Happy Shopper" EP out in June.
This is no ordinary evening and everyone on the bill is a winner, including the extraordinary Rob Auton, who is up next. Completely uninitiated to Rob Auton it is a pleasant unusual surprise, considering this is a music gig, to find he is not a musician (or at least not in this guise). He is a writer, poet and comic, and winner of The Funniest Joke of The Fringe at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2013.
With glimmers of John Cooper Clarke in the playfulness of his poetry and his delivery, Rob Auton however has a style all of his own. Often at the Boileroom people slope off to the bar during support acts, hanging there while a din of chatter creeps over to the stage, which, while not only being pretty rude as it is a small place, can also hinder quieter acts. This is minimal during Rob Auton's set; a testament to his ability to hold the crowd, encouraging audience participation and interaction during his not only very funny but also astute, insightful, intelligent and engaging performance.
At this point to be honest I could have gone home very happy. Then The Lovely Eggs took the stage and the good times continued in full flow. They launch straight into the music, after two songs then taking a pause; “It's Saturday night, who's up for the craic?!” It turns out everyone is.
David and Holly are a force. They are so good, but not too polished, which is the best combination – this is proper. They masterfully handle all the effects they are using in conjunction with their main instruments – David on drums and vocals, and Holly main vocals and guitar. - but it is not showy, just massively impressive, and they are able to bring the scale and diversity of a lot of their songs, especially off the latest record, live with ease.
Holly plays right to the crowd barrier multiple times, at one point her headstock is right by my head. It's this ability to connect that totally makes the evening not just in terms of the physicality ( a member of the audience also holds Holly's microphone for her at one stage) but also with the warmth, normality, and wit of both of the Eggs' chat engaging not only with the crowd, but with each other.
There is a touching moment when Holly talks about being all right with yourself in this world. I can't do her words justice but let's just say it clearly strikes a chord with this audience as they start playing “Fuck It”, which is greeted like an old friend and turns into a moving sing a-long. But it's not all sweetness given the slightly strange crowd outbursts at times as the night rolls on; Holly takes down one heckler - “What did he say David? I couldn't hear him cos his mouth was full of shit”. It's a fair comment.
Small audience annoyances aside it must be said this gig is pretty untoppable. "Big Sea", one of their best songs to date, is an absolute standout and it's clear to see why this has entered the vinyl charts at number 2 this week. If you are lucky enough to have a ticket for the future shows (most gigs are now sold out) I would recommend to watch all of the acts. This tour is very much a sum of it's parts and it honestly doesn't get much better than this.
The Lovely Eggs – Fuck It, People are Twats, Hello I am your Sun, Big Sea, Wiggy Giggy
Rob Auton - The statement “There should be a month called Remember”, Heaven Food.
Mr Ben and the Bens – Fall in love again, Cornershop, My Museum