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Hotclub return in stomping style.

Gig reviews

Hotclub of Cowton

Jumpin' Hot Club, Live Theatre

After gaining worldwide acclaim for their last album, Continental Stomp, Texas-based hot jazz and western swing band Hot Club of Cowtown were back in town in swinging style.

After their brief stop off at the Cluny last year, the Hot Club have gone on to become one of the most respected groups on the international scene, recently being named western swing group of the year and rubbing celebrity shoulders with the likes of Jools Holland at his annual Hootenanny.

Offering a distinctly fresh and contemporary sound, while wearing their age old influences on their sleeves, the Hot Club successfully manage to fuse old and new, creating a sound that is both refreshing and engaging.

Made up of just their three trusty instruments - jazz guitar, fiddle and upright bass - much of the Hot Club's beauty lies in their simplicity and skilled musicianship which more than makes up for the moments where other bands might choose to wheel out the drums or piano.

Kicking off with fast-paced, jazz guitar-driven number, Chinatown, the band immediately got the capacity audience on side, before ploughing into slap-happy instrumental Diga Diga Doo.

From the traditional country sound of Orange Blossom Special, to the Mississippi Delta Blues and the biographical folk musings of Eliza Jane, the band effortlessly switched between style and pace, providing a diverse showcase of popular American music of yesteryear.

Anyone with the duty of picking out standout tracks would be in for a hard job, such was the quality of their set, yet the sweet and sassy waltz-like number Deed I Do and the instantly engaging I Can't Believe You're In Love With Me, were definite favourites, with the home crowd getting in on the act by joining in with the chorus and stomping along to the playful bassline.

This kind of music is without doubt best experienced live, and the packed Live Theatre provided the perfect stage for their show of frantic string plucking and alluring vocals.

What made the concert even more enjoyable was the fact that the band were clearly keen to be playing away from home, sharing witty anecdotes and asking questions of local culture between numbers.

Andrew Fenwick

BETA Band, Newcastle University

The best way to describe the music of Scottish four-piece, The Beta Band, is eccentric. With haunting lyrics, effects and synthesizers, they are occasionally quite hard work to get into. However they have an amazing energy and a uniqueness to them that makes the Beta Band truly great.

Their live set is no exception to this rule, coming onto the stage with bizarre video footage on the screens behind them that continued throughout the gig. They played songs mainly from the new album but with a smattering of older tunes to please die-hard fans.

You can tell from their set that the band really enjoy the complexity of their music, creating a cacophony of sound that is better live than on their albums. They regaled the crowd with impromptu jams and plenty of audience participation.

They use a multitude of sounds - some recognisable and some coming from instruments that look almost home-made!

Particular highlights included Squares, which is an instantly recognisable late 90s anthem and would be heard at any indie disco night worth its salt. Outside, the stand-out track from the new album, Heroes to Zeros, has an excellent barking dog rhythm section, which although admittedly sounds strange, fits perfectly with the song.

Although some of the tracks on the four albums released to date are possibly an acquired taste, the live gig is certainly worth appreciating.

Claire Dupree
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Copyright 2004 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:May 12, 2004
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