Du Bellows – Nell’s Jazz and Blues (10th October 2015) – LIVE REVIEW

This Du Bellows article was written by Nick Roseblade

There are some gigs you’re looking forward to that let you down. We’ve all been there. You see it in the calendar for weeks and you’re mentally counting down to it, but when you get in there, it feels flat. Either you over thought it or it wasn’t quite as you expected, but these things happen. The flip side to that coin are the gigs that you are looking forward to, but you aren’t really paying attention and then unexpectedly it’s the day of the show and you’re outside a venue in West Kensington and you’re waiting to get in to see one of your favourite bands, this time Ealing’s finest, Du Bellows.

Seeing Du Bellows live is always a great thing. No matter how well recorded their songs are, it’s live when they really come alive. This was an acoustic set, but considering the band met and was formed at open mic nights, this was like a trip down memory lane. Opening with ‘Luminaire’ was a risk. In its full band form, it is a gargantuan unwieldy beast, but tonight, stripped back to its barest bones, it took on a new life. After a spoken word introduction from lead singer Jade Williams, TJ Shipton and Richard Leeds launched into the opening riff, but instead of a the fuzzed out monster it usually is, it was tamed and purr for the audience, until drummer, Dave Watkinson joined and party. From this point on they never looked back. The risk had paid off! The band looked like they not only had something to prove, but they had something up their sleeves. Next up was fan favourite ‘Isa Du Bellows’. This song always resonates with me, mainly due to its jaunty nature, but lyrically it’s the equivalent of a hug from a friend when you’re down saying “Fuck em! You’ve got me! It’ll be alright!”.

After ‘Isa’ the surprises appeared. Firstly in the form of guitarist John Perry (him of the Only Ones fame), and secondly Williams positioned herself in front of a keyboard. After they’d run through a blistering version of ‘Three Steps’ Williams admitted that she hadn’t played piano/keyboards in public since she was 16. Next up was ‘Jack and his Queen’ which was one of the stand out tracks of the set. This new stripped back sound suited it perfectly and some audience members welled up with emotion when it finished. ‘Children of the Birds’ which was written about and dedicated to Williams’ home in the Brecon Beacons. Sadly this was the last song with Perry, but after the initial shock of his appearance, it felt like he’d always been there. Trying out a new song is always tricky, especially when the song doesn’t have a name and especially when you’d only finished it that afternoon. From the outset there were touches and flourishes of Laura Nyro to it. ‘If and When and Only’ made an appearance and brought the house down. Closing track ‘Dry Flowers’ is a masterclass in storytelling. From start to finish you are captivated by the tale of love, rejection and redemption Du Bellows spin.

Considering how the year started for Du Bellows, a troubled quintet, and how they’re ending the year, a powerful quartet who aren’t afraid to strip things back and allow a legend to play for a few songs, 2016 is starting to look more exciting by the moment. But back to the moment. Du Bellows blow away audiences every time they take to the stage, and given the strength of this new, as yet untitled song, it looks like they have the good to keep doing that for a long time to come!

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