Hayseed Dixie at The Ironworks, Inverness, 15/10/2015. A review.
Support from the evening comes from The Jokers, and we can certainly excuse their slight disorientation given their hectic gigging schedule and the busyness of releasing new album ‘Hurricane’.
Playing a luxurious ,for a support, slot of fourty-five minutes of RAWK, free from the restraints of attempting to be contemporary, it’s traditional but certainly inspired by the same cannon as the headliners for the evening.
I had entered as they were playing ‘Rock n Roll is Alive’ which I had mis-heard as “Rock and Roll is a Lie”, despite the confusion that I had caused myself it is a great showcase as to what the four piece is best at.
The pace does ebb and flow and my preference for their more consistently faster paced tracks is not shared by the audience who lap up the tunes and attentions of front man Wane Perry and guitarist Paul Hurst who enthusiastically leads the clapping.
Perry seems impressed by the crowd’s response and general enthusiasm, well worth the “nine million mile” trip that The Jokers have made to find themselves in the Highlands.
Hayseed Dixie has made convention out of the unconventional. A band borne from blue grass reworkings of AC/DC tracks, is never going to work. The gig tonight was number 1131 in a 14 year career that has spawned 15 albums. Yup, never going to work.
Convention would indicate a drummer to bring balance to the quartet, Hayseed Dixie would indicate that the space would be better used for a fully stocked (and utilised) beer fridge. If you have not checked out their well publicised rider, please do it does give a great insight into the band.
Barley Scotch starts the gig alone (except for a bottle of Prosecco that he relishes throughout the set) with a “country killing song” although it is not long that he is joined by the rest of the band and they start with one of many AC/DC tracks of the evening in ‘Hell’s Bells’.
We learn a lot about what the band don’t like during the set; politicians, Coldplay, lager and hipster beards. Each explained beautifully with anecdotes that add to the charm of the set; “If you need to throw something at me during the set please make it Ale as lager is horrible”. Barley Scotch is keen to emphasise that they are “educated red-necks” (“for any journalists out there” ) and the self deprecating approach is relished, no surprise they have such a great relationship with Scottish audiences.
The banter is relentless, with Barley Scotch astutely observing that “playing in front of an audience is like sex” he pauses for effect, the punch line is cutting “it’s better if you enjoy it” , he says with a wink of the eye, adding “and you paid for it”.
The audience appears to have a preference for the familiar covers, ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ is a favourite with the mandolin clearly adding a twist to the so very well know tune. A speeded up version of , “the best killing song”, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is intersected with the band’s original “I’m Keeping Your Poop (In a Jar)”. Slightly disturbing but more entertaining. A trend that is returned to in the possibly “sexist , or sexy” depending on your perspective, ‘She was Skinny When I Met Her’ which moves swiftly back to Queen, this time the appropriate ‘Fat-Bottomed Girls”.
As the set nears an end the band abandon convention , again, choosing to play on instead of going off to await the request for one more song.The last song was inspired by a meeting with DJ Yoda at a festival and was an incredible medley including the expected (the last helpings of AC/DC), the bizarre (The Bangles!) and the sublime (Pink Floyd).
The audience is left knackered, but as I walked out of the venue, the band are welcoming fans, posing for selfies and selling a bucketful of merch.
Shakespeare comes to mind; “Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t.”
Buy Hayseed Dixie’s latest album;Hair Down To My Grass.
Photos courtesey of Stephen Bull.