Whether it’s a case of heavy exposure on BBC 6 Music since the release of their self-recorded fifth album, ‘This is Eggland’, or the fact that old punks never die or fade away, the Band on the Wall was rammed for what the Lovely Eggs regard as their home gig, at least in a big city sense. Some of the audience looked as if they might have been at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in ’76.
Pigeon-holing The Lovely Eggs is a task worthy of a Doctorate degree. Ostensibly punk, they range over garage, noise and all manner of other sub-genres while some tracks, notably ‘Allergies’ are decidedly pysch-pop. There is a message in the lyrics that is never far away, and it is usually framed in the sort of detached observation of society and its ills that is entirely possible from their home city of Lancaster but which would be inconceivable in London. Parochial globalism, for want of a better phrase.
Dressed in what looked like Roman togas, Holly Ross and David Blackwell, with just a guitar and drum kit between them, are as limited in what they can conjure up musically in a live setting as the White Stripes and the Ting Tings were. So there is ample use of backing tracks. Indeed the best musicians – the bass and synth players – weren’t in the house. Everything’s in 4/4 and occasionally they get a little out of time.
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But the audience didn’t come looking for musical perfection. The Lovely Eggs are about communicating working-class angst dramatically and there are few better exponents on the circuit. Holly would have been a good suffragette. They rattled through the set with an energy that belied the fact that this was the final show of a demanding 10-gig tour, that Holly had a streaming cold and that both of them, and their young son, who accompanied them throughout it, had been up since five o’clock.
Holly, a sort of hybrid of Sara Cox and Liz Kershaw, both vocally and visually, told a funny story about that, part-way through the show. She is a natural at it, despite interruptions from David, who was evidently delighted at being referred to as “Big Dave” by a member of the audience. It seems a paranoid light bulb had come on in his head before dawn, suggesting that the bouncers who’d helped them stow their gear after the East London show the night before might have been part of a Walford mafia and had set them up to steal that gear, prompting a rapid exit from their Travelodge bedroom. They hadn’t.
They attacked the set with a relentless vigour that has to be experienced to appreciate it fully, from the opening song ‘I’m With You’, from the new album, and about being on the wrong side of society’s tracks, through a catalogue of old favourites and newer numbers like ‘Wiggy Giggy’, their most melodic song and more of which might propel them into a mainstream appreciation they don’t really crave, to ‘People Are Twats’. Towards the end a young lady who appears to be a water diviner joined them on stage, surreally choreographing the audience into a crouching position.
Readers will realise by now that that the duo aren’t averse to using colourful language. By the time they got to ‘Fuck It’ (fuck being the most frequently used word on the night) the glitter ball was whirring and dozens of scarves with the song’s title printed on them where “Glory, glory Man United” or “You’ll Never Walk Alone” might go in another universe were being paraded above heads. Quite a stirring sight.
The Lovely Eggs aren’t everyone’s cup of tea but whether they leave you scrambled, poached or fried, they are undeniably fun and always come sunny side up.
Support came from Mr Ben and the Bens, another Lancaster band, and from comedian Phil Jupitus as “Porky the Poet”, someone who can be funny and occasionally sophisticated, with his poems and jokes about jogging only from work, not to it, and naïve Somali salesmen in adult bookstores. And he donated his fee to an arts charity. He can also be an irritating prick at times. Tonight he didn’t disappoint on any count.