Harry Bird & the Rubber Wellies Gig Review

“Retroactive” – Gig review by “Malt ‘n’ Music Man”

A week of meetings in the office is not the sort of week of work that Malt ‘n’ Music Man enjoys and when the ‘managementspeak’ is flowing he can’t understand why he is sat in a meeting discussing what should be done instead of just being out there and doing it!!! This week’s prize word is ‘retroactive’ – which I think basically means we had it right years ago before we started changing for change sake!

At least there was the gig to look forward to at the end of the week – Malt ‘n’ Music was coming of age – as we ventured into music promotion. The idea had been formed at the Protest Song evening when a Harry Bird and the Rubber Wellies track ‘Ban the Bomb’ made an appearance. The PM had seen them at a festival with the Malt ‘n’ Music Man and he turned to Malt ‘n’ Music Man and suggested putting on a gig at Moulton Village hall – and no sooner had Malt ‘n’ Music Man agreed than the email was written and sent!

The morning after the Malt ‘n’ Music night before is always one of whispers but the email from the PM seemed to shout ‘They have only gone and said YES!’

Six months later the village hall was booked, the PA sorted, lights focused, bar stocked, all tickets sold and we were music promoters…

What a night it was too. Cast of Thousands (featuring a local spare-time Methodist Minister) opened the evening. By the time Cast of Thousands launched into ‘King of the Road’ the assembled sell out audience were in fine voice singing along and we all knew this was going to be a special evening.

Harry Bird and the Rubber Wellies took to the stage and immediately the village had two more friends. The band fed off the atmosphere in the room and the crowd fed off the musicianship and the divinely crafted songs. There were protest songs, songs about pirates, cycling, Spanish songs and even a song in French! The first half finished with the new single Kettle of Silver – the band announced it was available on vinyl (complete with download code) during the interval!

What a sight to see during the interval that followed – children and young people queuing, buying and then wandering round the venue with vinyl in their hands – now that’s retroactive!!

The second half was every beat as good as the first. Ban the Bomb, complete with audience participation, brought the house down. Steve Knightley (Show of Hands) often declares that its people’s worst nightmare a folk gig with a sing-a-long chorus but the audience wanted more. As Harry Bird and the Rubber Wellies left the stage at the end of their second set the applause erupted and the crowd demanded an encore! The band were happy to please and played a new song again with gusty audience participation.

Music has its trends and different genres but at the end of the day there are only two types of music – Good and Bad! Harry Bird and the Rubber Wellies play good folk music and the crowd loved it.

You have to feel sorry for this generation as they are exposed to music on X-factor and all they see are so called ‘artists’ who want the fame and fortune that comes from the music industry over and above any musical integrity – they get to laugh at those so enticed by the dream that they fail to recognise that they can’t sing, they see the tears of those who fail and the short-lived career of the winners. They also see the businessmen who exploit dreams for their own gain, the ones who are there year in year out growing rich on the hopes of the poor misguided fools.


You also have to feel sorry for those who have only ever been to an arena gig – arena gigs may have fantastic PA systems, unbelievable visual content and the biggest bands on the planet but no-one could ever have the same atmosphere that is created by a village who live together and are sharing an evening of music. After all this is what music is meant to be about – not faceless, tasteless, tone deaf moneymakers in suits – communities brought together.

This wasn’t just a gig – this was retroactive music – music how it used to be. True artists who seek not fame and fortune but solely a place to play and entertain a community in its own space. An experience that is shared by those who meet in the local, in the street, walking the dog or as they come home from work and talk about what a great night it was…

…and it was.


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