Monday, April 07, 2008

Big Hand

At a time when the Dead 60's have just split up, Madness have reduced themselves to a sullen parody of themselves and no-one seems to really care about it any more anyway, it takes a brave band to go anywhere near the mantle of ska, let alone pick it up and drape themselves in it as completely as Edinburgh's Big Hand do.

The difference is that this is a band which doesn't take themselves too seriously. This is ska, but it is the type popularised by the likes of Bad Manners. Fun ska. Trumpeter Phil Ramsey appears to be the bastard lovechild of Alex Pennie (late of The Automatic) and Gallows' Frank Carter, ripped to the tits on tartrazine. Bass player Luke Martin throws every comedy guitarist shape in the book and adds a few of his own. It's not many groups where the lead singer - in this case guitarist Tim Lomas - is the quiet man of the band.

To some extent, this is the only flaw with tonight's performance. Lomas' vocals are too thin and reedy for the energy of the music. Everything fits much better when, as on songs like 'Light a Fire', drummer Paul Skelding takes over vocal duties. And the last successful band with a singing drummer

The important thing tonight, though, is not that the stage is too small, that the ceiling is too low or that the singer is having a bit of an off night. It is that the set is too short. Just five numbers and they are off. You should, of course, always leave your audience wanting more


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