Tonight was the release party/show for Bearpit Brothers‘ second EP, Something Cruel, the latest instalment in their ongoing reclamation of late 50s/early 60s pop and rock from the dead embrace of Family Favourites. On the EP the trio (Robert Ruthven, Jim Byrne and Larry Alexander, augmented tonight by drummer Angus Ruthven) recreate an era on the cusp of the morally rigid post war era and the sexually permissive Technicolor sixties. Songs about sex were veiled back then, the act itself only hinted at, seemingly innocent but with a dangerous undercurrent. However tonight was a cause for celebration and the dark underbelly was for the most part hidden beneath a lusty and jubilant delivery of very melodic songs with added lustre from Alexander’s dextrous fretwork, teardrops and rain dripping from his strings.
It was a sixties themed night with some of the audience dolled up in thrift store reclamations as shades of Roy Orbison and Cliff & the Shadows stalked the stage in a fashion not dissimilar to the Sheffield greaser Richard Hawley. Playing most of the songs from both EPs it was obvious the band were having great fun with the mini operas they’ve conjured playing up the melodrama in songs such as Love And Hate. A new song, Snap In Half showed that they’re steadily approaching the Merseybeat era although the template here seems to be The Searchers with Alexander playing some well-jangled guitar. An encore of Orbison’s Running Scared paid full tribute to the man although singer Ruthven just couldn’t manage the soaring immensity of the voice (but then again who can) and there was a fine countrified ramble through Byrne’s Daddy’s Car, a song that graced his album On These Dark Nights. They don’t seem to play live often but if you get a chance to see a show then grab it.
The band were well supported by poet Stephen Watt, winner of the Poetry Rivals Slam Championship a few years back. His observations on the plight of bats (without them there’d be na na na na na na na …Man), The Man who Wouldn’t Dance to Ska and the tragicomic tale of midnight buses from George Square were entertaining and well delivered and above all great fun, like listening to a local John Cooper Clarke. The other support, Ryan Morcambe, singer/songwriter, harked back to sixties frantic strumming with harmonica carrying the melody. His best song tonight was the folky thrash of 12 Rounds which had a fine whiff of Greenwich Village about it.