It was lovely to see them again. We ate pie, peas and chips in Greystones, which is a great venue which I have played a couple of times in the past. There was a support band, Sowerbee, a male/female duo with lovely voices, and then Hope and Social (all 8 of them) picked their way through a stage crammed with musical instruments and began their set. They have a three-piece horn section, bass, drums, two guitarists and a vintage keyboard player (the keyboard, not the player), most of whom multi-task throughout the set. They have catchy songs, they are well-rehearsed, but most importantly, they have universally sunny dispositions, which were most welcome on a rainy Tuesday. Their wit is sharp and self-deprecating (the keyboard player was congratulated on passing his driving test last week. 'He'll be losing his virginity next', quipped the guitarist), they encourage the audience to join in, and they have running gags with their sound guy at the back of the room, who works bloody hard to change over between dodgy vintage synths, quirky drum machines, blue plastic trombones and all the other kit. As singers, they are exemplary and include amongst their number Gary Stewart on drums, who is also Yorkshire's numero uno Paul Simon coverer (and who sang a Paul Simon song last night). The best bit was when they walked away from the microphones towards the end of their set and sang acoustically and in harmony. If I had a criticism it would be that there's not enough opportunity to hear their good musicianship- at one point just the sax and trombone played some truly beautiful little licks, as the music backed off a bit.
It was an uplifting night though, in spite of the fact that they dissed London. I had to have a wee heckle about that, although I don't care a fig for The Smoke and I've always felt like a foreigner here.
They're actually playing The Islington tonight, in Tolpuddle Street, Islington, believe it or not. Try to go- you'll enjoy it, I promise, and you may well find that they sing a song in London that disses Sheffield.
Let me know if they do.