Bellowhead | Rating: **** | ABC, Glasgow
See musicians make death-defying leaps from speaker stacks, watch the incredible disco-sky-pointing oboist, the all-singing, all-dancing brass section and witness a man dance with his helicon (sousaphone to you). Folky, funky, theatrical and extremely loud, it can only be the inimitable Bellowhead on their farewell tour.
A packed house, already enthusiastically disposed after a suitably rumbustious folk-rock opening set from Mawkin, raised the roof as Jon Boden and his 11-strong folk big band launched into a theatrical rendition of Jacques Brel’s Amsterdam, then really got into their stride with the jubilant shanty holler of Roll Alabama, with its crisp brass and oboe chorusing.
Instrumentals such as the Hudson’s Hornpipe/Parson’s farewell set prompted some characteristic Terpsichorean capers from the brass section, while Sloe Gin saw some enthusiastic accordion and trombone-propelled pogoing from band members, which reached fever pitch in Frogs’ Legs and Dragons’ Teeth
Although much of Boden’s impassioned singing came over surprisingly clearly, the volume tended to render an eldritch ditty like Cold Blows the Wind more in your face than spooky while Little Sally Racket became an OTT call-and-response fracas between band and audience. Elsewhere, there was the irrepressible gusto of old favourites such as Whisky is the Life of Man, Roll the Woodpile Down and an encore rendition of London Town, complete with brass outburst of the 007 theme. They’ve certainly earned a rest.