Champions is hosting 5 nights of fundraising gigs for a celebration of Bhone‘s fifth birthday. Beneficiaries are Julia’s House and Poole Hospital Charity. Tonight features a Betika reunion gig as a special headline, and Mrs H (Ness) has joined me as a result. I’ll be including her thoughts as one liner entries as we go through.

Head Of A Cuban Trojan are just setting up when I arrive – I’ve missed Grott Party, who have done a set more aimed at fun and amusement as judged by some who saw them – titles like Fat Girl and Gadaffi (changed from Mugabe to remain topical).

There’s a good buzz about, many clearly here for the headline act’s first and last gig f’or a while (vocalist and flautist etc Carolyn has a job in Thailand, and husband Will (bass, backing singer) is going with her).

Head Of A Cuban Trojan

Head Of A Cuban Trojan bhoneNot heard these guys before, though have heard about them; formed from remnants of Dutch Husband some time ago. Playfully artistic rock, they have some massive chording intro thing going on with the music; they are wearing Royalty masks in honour of today’s Royal wedding.

Loads of effects make up a sad rock style to their opener, which leads into a softer ballad start as lead singer and guitarist Lee switches to a stand-mounted megaphone before the mic to distort his sound – I like the mounting to a stand feature – means he can still play guitar while using the megaphone, something others could perhaps learn from.

Obviously this limits the movement, which had been lively, Imogen meanwhile has switched from bass to what I think is a cornet requiring her to also remain static in front of a mic stand for this number.

This latter playing she achieves while left handed tapping her bass through a fuzz box – interesting multi-use I’ve not heard before. Third track is more of a heavy thumper, still with clear lyrics over suitable distortion

They move into an incredibly melodic set of music, frivolous sounding yet with solid vocals over it all

The only song title I catch is Streets Of London, their closing number, this features the brass again, this time loop double recorded and over dubbed live mixed with the guitar bass drums and dual vocals. Would quite like to hear these guys again.

The one line low down from Ness: I didn’t like them, but thought they were good at what they did.

Animal Talent Show

Animal Talent Show are our third act tonight, guitar led with synths featuring heavily courtesy of Henrie (back in town for a few days)

Animal Talent Show bhoneThey have some active fans with them – at one point a gently thrown shoe lands on stage (in lead Nick’s face) – he takes this in his stride and seems to not miss a beat.

In the main the twin guitars of Nick and Alfie stick to chord work and simple melodies, leaving a lot of room available for those aforementioned synths to feature.

This reduction of screaming guitars give the music some big appeal, light major chords making a very positive sound, even as drums and bass laydown a heavier foundation. There’s also visual interest – lots of interaction and enthusiastic movement from stage, encouraging the audience to jig around accordingly.

It helps that things are just so musical and with strong beats and rhythms. Discos, and Disguises before that are particularly notable, I recognise them particularly from the last time I saw Animal Talent Show, possibly over a year ago.

That’s one drawback, Nick is engaging with us a lot yet he’s not passing on the song titles – he seems to be spending a lot of time needing to retune (presumably as the guitar hasn’t acclimatised to the heat in here)  – I’ve caught up on the titles afterwards for the post – having said all that, they don’t make a point of titles.

For example, the first song they ever did is a great example of their sound, musical, rhythms and melodies from the guitars and bass, with pretty keyboard pipe-organ sounds over the top, with engaging lyrics added in. What do they call it bu First Song!

Shame they can’t gig in the area that often, they do a great set and put on a good show.

They finish with New One, appropriately enough a new song, this contains some complex and interesting syncopation, while still being as melodic as those that have gone before. This time there is some dischordant work in the chorus, lyrical melody clashing in a pleasant way with Alfie and Henrie’s lead melodies.

One line low down from Ness: I like them, kinda.


I have a confession to make here – I was relatively late into Betika on the local scene – they were the first ever guests on the LiveWire Live show when HopeFM first started its 24/7 broadcast, back in 2006. While I’d seen them live quite a few times since, I’m still not totally familiar with their non-recorded back catalogue material.

Betika bhoneIts been quite amusing reading the facebook comments in the lead up to this gig as varous members have been relearning the material. The rehearsing has payed off, this is fast and furious, the guys are kicking up a storm from the off; Bob Hope has such energy, its as if their nearly 2 year gap has been spent waiting for this moment. Hatred is also picked up two levels above the album energy.

There is not one single person being static on stage – all are dancing around, or jigging on the spot when tied to a mic singing or whatever – Rich (drums) is obviously the exception being sat down, even so he’s animated behind the kit. When not playing music, the line made up by Kerrie, Carolyn, Martin and Imogen are utilising all sorts of unusually shaped shakers (lettuce or banana anyone?)

All of this just makes me wonder how we’ve managed on the local scene without these guys providing an example of something to aspire to both in musical ability and stage performance, coupled as Betika songs are with Dave’s witty, insightful and incisive lyrics and Carolyn’s harmonies to them.

Another thing I’m enjoying is that they’re not sticking just the recorded material, for example The Candidate and Peter Marfan feature alongside Dormitor and Twenty Five, all pumped up to 11 and beyond on tempo and vehemence.

Something unexpected for an encore – Happy Monday’s Step On. Imogen is now on bass rather than Will, Mark swaps his guitar for a labcoat and Betika‘s original guitarist Chris (Little Boat) steps up. For their second encore Volkspiotr is chosen, really allows Hubcap & Kerrie to shine on their synths. This clearly isn’t enough for this appreciative audience, so a third and fourth encore are called for. Their third encore song is unknown to me yet it turns out it was a cover of Hands originally by True Swamp Neglect, the fourth encore gives us a final ending of all with By Default, so many of us know it, its great to hear everyone singing and acting along.

An awesome gig, Ness’ one line low down: Yep, really good (she gives a thumbs up, despite the late hour).

Thanks to Tone and the rest of the bhone team for a great effort in providing these 5 great gigs in 5 days