Live Review: Hey Sholay & The Crookes – Sugarmill, Stoke

Let’s face it, apart from being Brad Pitt, being a musician is pretty much the best job in the world. So there’s nothing worse than going to see a group of sullen faced lads clamber onto the stage looking like they would much rather be anywhere else. No such thing tonight as The Crookes and Hey Sholay both look very happy to be at the Sugarmill, even despite it being only two thirds full.

Hey Sholay don’t even tell us they are called Hey Sholay until maybe half way through their set. Vocalist Liam announces “Last time we played here we played to about six people, so we’re getting better.” Which is true. Since then they have released debut album ((0)) (Pronunciation, answers on a post card.) He continues to say “But you’re here to see The Crookes right?” I thought better of saying well actually you are what swayed me to attend tonight. The last thing Liam says between these songs is “It’s actually our intention to steal The Crookes fans.” Which in all truthfulness is quite rightly a support band’s job.

Later on The Crookes frontman George Waite adds to this by saying “We are thinking about banning Hey Sholay from the rest of the tour because they are so intimidating to come out after.” It may be a joke but there is no doubt some truth in it.

Hey Sholay songs have a maturity that belies their current position in the lower leagues of musical stardom. Singles ‘Dreamboat’ and ‘My Blood’ are destined to be heard by much bigger crowds than tonights crowd. Strong radio support and sessions for Steve Lamacq et all prove those in the know, know it too.

The Crookes meanwhile bundle onto the stage for an hour-long set delivering songs from both debut album “Chasing After Ghosts” and this year’s follow up “Hold fast”. Watching The Crookes live is a much more rewarding experience than sitting in a chair in the middle of your room listening to The Crookes. The simple explanation for this is that The Crookes are just fun. And ‘fun’ is not really a feeling that can be particularly well conveyed via CD or iTunes download.

Some of this fun is no doubt due to the ‘un-polishedness-ness’ of the bands sound. As their allotted sixty minutes comes to and end, both Frontman and Guitarist emerge in the centre of the Sugarmill floor equipped with only an Acoustic Guitar and a good old fashioned voicebox. The band don’t explain why, other than “It is just as unexpected for us as it is for you.” This brings on some right royal clapping to which George comments “You’re more in time than the Germans.” More humour.

Songs like “Hold fast” and “Backstreet Lovers” sound good, well more than good, they sound confident and deliberate (even with a few hiccups).

It would only have been fair for an unlikely intimate show to receive a rapturous ending, to which it did. “Yes, Yes We Are Magicians” is the last number of the night and it brings clapping, tapping, stopping and whatever else. And with that musical justice is served.

George Waite admits Stoke is like a second home for them as tonight is the 10th time they’ve placed in the city. Both bands are growing stronger, quietly, in the shadows and those people not glued to Facebook were rewarded for braving the elements. On the basis of tonight’s performances Hey Sholay and The Crookes will have starring roles on much bigger stages in the future.

Today’s the day for Hey Sholay. The deluxe edition of their recently released, debut album ((O)) is now out there for human consumption.

Hey Sholay headline Hoxton Bar & Kitchen (with support from China Rats and Must) on 12th December and ending the year in style in Sheffield with a show at The Library Theatre on the 21st (with support from Harley Likes Music) They also have a deluxe edition of the album features ((O)) with an extra CD of 5 ‘re-dreamt’ versions of popular album tracks, along with a lovely lyric book and it’s all wrapped up in tie-dyed, hand-stitched fabric.

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