Holy Moly & The Crackers / The Assist – O2 Academy 3, Birmingham, Thursday 11th April 2019


Support tonight comes from local lads from Walsall called The Assist. These fellas were a little difficult to categorise, which made them all the more interesting to me. They`ve been around a wee while now and have been championed by BBC Introducing. In an interview the band summed up their music as “Council pop-rock-pop” Their short set tonight included `All That I Need`, `Tell her How You Feel`, `Time Up`, the anthemic `Exist`, the superbly catchy `Hung Up`, `Wonderful` and `Who Do You Think You Are.

The band comprises of Jak Baker (bass), Ben Faulkner (drums) and brothers Mikey Stanton (vocals) and Ryan Stanton (Guitar). I really enjoyed their set and I’d best sum up their sound as having flavours of bands like The Happy Mondays, The Stone Roses and Flowered Up. I`m sure we`ll be hearing more of The Assist.

Holy Moly & The Crackers were formed in Newcastle in 2011 and are labelled as making riotous party music for the masses and on the strength of tonight`s performance, they certainly do. This sextet hit the stage to what I`m sure is the theme tune from `Zorba the Greek` and slam straight into a trio of songs from their recently released third album “Take A Bite” with `All I Got Is You`, `Kiss Me Before You Go` and `Sister`.

There is a wonderful chemistry between Ruth Patterson (vocals/violin) and Conrad Bird (vocals/guitar/trumpet) who trade the lyrics of the songs atop of some thoroughly foot-stomping danceable tunes. We are offered up some older tracks with the sleazy `Sugar` which reminded me of The Urban Voodoo Machine, `Cocaine` and the compelling reggae flavoured `Ain`t No Grave`. The title track of their latest release follows with `Take a Bite` before `Naked In Budapest` a song which was written about an incident that happened in the Hungarian capitol after a member of the band imbibed too much of the local speciality spirit Palinka, a rather lethal fruit brandy. The band share a song written by their accordion player Rosie Bristow called `River Neva` she left the band at one stage, joined a circus and ended up in Russia, sitting by said river. This instrumental has a crackling Baltic feel about it. The engine room of the band Nick Tyler (electric guitar), Jamie Shields (bass) and Tommy Evans (drums) really excel on the captivating `Cold Comfort Lane` which I felt had a similar vibe to The Sonic`s `Have Love, Will Travel` The show closes out with a couple of truly captivating tracks with `Mary` and `Upside Down`. It doesn`t take too long before the band are encouraged to return to the stage and offer up a couple of songs from their debut album, First Avenue, released in 2012 with `Bluebell Wood` and `Devil And The Danube`

This was a terrifically energetic show, a real zealous take on folk, blues and indie rock. This outfit would go down a storm at a festival. The band are on the latter part of an eleven-date tour in support of the latest album so you`ve only a few days to catch them. I can assure you, it`ll be worth making the effort.

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