Black Box, Belfast
12th January 2019
January is usually a dull and dreary month. Poor weather, bills to pay and a seemingly endless wait until payday. Thankfully, for Belfast natives, the annual Out to Lunch Festival is back to brighten up the short dark dreary days. Today is no exception. It might be a grey dull January Saturday afternoon, but inside Belfast’s Black Box Theatre in the Cathedral Quarter those January blues are quickly blown away by the cheerful shenanigans of The Dodge Brothers.
Touring in support of their current long player ‘Drive Train’, they open the show with ‘Oh California’ and proceed for the next two hours with a set list heavy on songs from the new record. ‘Drive’, ‘Step Away From The Car’ and ‘Head Out West’ all sound great performed live, but the real standouts are, without doubt, Charley Patton and Bertha Lee’s ‘O Death’ with its acapella introduction and harmonies throughout and ‘Died And Gone To Hell’ featuring washboard and empty wine bottle. We also get treated to a song the band informs us they premiered at their last Belfast show, ‘The Ballad Of Frank Harris’.
Onstage, there’s a natural chemistry between the brothers. Self-deprecating humour abounds. Drummer Alex Hammond is, we are told, finally allowed to have a bass drum because he’s old enough. Double bass and harmonica player Mark Kermode takes some stick about left over sardines in his harmonica. Vocalist, and the only American in the band Mike Hammond gets praise for allowing a bunch of English lads to sing with American accents. Somehow during all the banter and heady playing Aly Hirji manages to look cool and totally laid back as he effortless swaps between eclectic and acoustic guitars without breaking a sweat. They are all accomplished musicians and for the duration of the gig, there’s full eye contact and smiles between the bandmates. And, if there is the occasional mistake, it’s an old theatre trick to used to break the fourth wall for the benefit of the audience Kermode informs us.
Too soon we reach the end of the show and a rousing version of ‘Aft Blues’ complete with audience participation and full on ‘Drunk On You’ ends a frenetic fun-filled two hours and this is only their first show of the day!
Full marks to The Dodge Brothers and to Out To Lunch Festival for a very enjoyable good old fashioned rock and roll show.