FEW bands could get away with, or be brazen enough, to build a puppet show, TV quiz, Mexican wave and audience-based conga into their set.
You could be forgiven, on entering The Rake at The Dukes Theatre on Saturday night, that you’d stepped through a timewarp back to 1980s Lancashire, where flat caps and pints of bitter went hand in hand with sequinned waistcoats and a surreal take on Play Your Cards Right.
What the Lancashire Hotpots lack in shame, they more than make up for in comedy, variety, and dubious costumes.
Having lost their support act to a Chas (no Dave) concert, the quirky quintet put on a two-hour show filled to the brim with music, comedy, dance, drama, puppetry... and beer. Songs from their new album A Hard Day’s Pint featured heavily in a set of classic Hotpots tracks (Ebay Eck, I Fear Ikea, Shopmobility Scooter, Cinema Smugglers, Mek Us A Brew, He’s Turned Emo, Chippy Tea), that this virtually sold-out Lancaster audience sang along to with glee.
The Perfect Pint went down a storm, and I’ll ‘Ave One Wi’ Yer has got to be a contender for most satisfying use of quote.
I’m guessing audience members who went out into Lancaster afterwards had a lot of fun with that.
Pirate Bernard, despite suffering a bit of an identity crisis at times (he most certainly wasn’t lead singer Bernard Thresher), wowed us with his moonwalking and evoked piratey cries of “kyarrr” every time he brought his cutlass down during Cinema Smugglers.
Little Johnny the puppet made an hilarious appearance on stage, too.
In itself, the puppet routine is probably an aspect of variety best forgotten, but the Hotpots have the ability to take something bad and make it good, or at least tongue-in-cheek funny.
Utilise Yer Deck In An Appropriate Fashion, the Hotpots version of Play Your Cards Right, being another example.
It literally was laugh a minute.
This was my ninth Lancashire Hotpots show (Kendal Calling next weekend will make it a nice even 10) and I must admit I have wondered at times “where the band goes from here”. But I needn’t have worried.
This was their best set yet, the banter between band members produced a wonderful electric charge which rubbed off on the audience, and the new album has enough stand-out tracks and “original” material to keep things fresh.
For me, the band’s style is best displayed in closing song Bang, Bang, Thumpy Dance Music, where dance classics like The Prodigy’s Firestarter, Underworld’s Born Slippy and Groove Armada’s I See You Baby (shaking your bum cheeks) are given the “folk treatment”.
The Lancashire Hotpots are infectious, clever, honest and in a class of their own, and have a loyal fanbase that is more like an extension of the band. For many, they represent everything that is good about this county. Any comparisons to previous, more traditional, purveyors of the parody music brand must now be dead in the water.
If you feel like you’ve been living under a raincloud of late, all I can say is, go and see The Lancashire Hotpots.
GIG GUIDE (JULY 19 – 25)
The Bobbin: The Loaded Dice, Carolina Vendetta
The Britannia: Themed open mic night (Dylan, Denver and The Doors)
Robert Gillow: Tony Cooke and Howard Haigh
Stonewell Tavern: Dave Metcalf
Penny Bank: Jamrock
Robert Gillow: Boogie Bill Roberts
Stonewell Tavern: The Howling Clowns
Yorkshire House: The Colonel’s Bastard Sons, The Fighting Bears.
Ring O’Bells: Open mic
Robert Gillow: Gillow Gallows
Stonewell Tavern: Guns of Navarone
Yorkshire House: Ridgeback Promotions presents...
Wagon and Horses: Graham Mumford
The Bobbin: Day of acoustic music, Mixtapes and Cupcakes (eve)
Happy Mount Park, Morecambe: Morecambe Bay Brass Band
Robert Gillow: Spoken word open mic
Robert Gillow: Sue Parish (Sue goes Pop!)
Black Bull, Bentham: The Quincy Street Quintet
Robert Gillow: Kristi Michele
Penny Bank: Open mic
The Britannia: Half-pint
Robert Gillow: Men of the Hour
Robert Gillow: Howling Clowns Open Mic Night
Stonewell Tavern: Open mic