Pete David & The Payroll Union’s Hoedown @Broomhall Community Centre.
It was a cold, damp Saturday. The snow that flurried in the morning was now a wet mess in the streets and the cold British winter was on its last throes.
But in a small community centre in Broomhall, the mood was much more vivacious, looking more like a small barnyard lost in Middle America than a little building smack down in the S10 postcode. At the entry, Pete David himself was at the ticket booth, handing out retro postcards while stamping people hands with the name of the band.
The smell of chili con carne and hay permeated the venue. The ticket entry included chili and corn bread. Both seemed good but it literally evaporated as the packed venue gobbled it up like Pacman falling back on his habit.
The first people to take the stage was the Biddy Fiddlers trio, doing some acoustic stuff that was peppy enough to get some people dancing. They were having fun and the few people that were dancing really got into it.
Afterwards, Low Duo played a very solemn set. With only an electric guitar and a voice full of feeling, this Sheffield pair gave their best. It was a strange follow-up to the previously happy mood of the hoedown, but it was an enjoyable set, one that could benefit even more in a very intimate atmosphere.
An ensemble of musicians, led by a tall guy sporting a very cool jet black cowboy hat took the stage. It was Dan Haywood’s New Hawks. Their sound? Country, with long jams that went as long as they deemed necessary, which isn’t bad at all when done properly. Which was the case.
It seems the band just released a three record album, a mammoth two hour monster in vinyl and I think I saw some lucky bastard with a copy around.
A few of the audience members were already intoxicated and started to disembowel the bales of hay, Saxon style. As Dan Haywood‘s set continued to rip through (awesome violoncello player, btw), the hay started to fly. It was a great set, a little long, but still a great show and the whole band seemed to be enjoying themselves (except the guy on lap pedal, who looked like he wanted to play longer).
Then it came the time for the hosts, Pete David and the Payroll Union, to take the stage and show their stuff around. Their set started and by song number 3, ‘Emily’, the mood was vibrant. A sight I swore I would never see in a country gig appeared: a guy crowd surfing.
Songs like ‘Richmond town’, ‘The sacrifice’ and the extremely catchy ‘Whisky in my Whisky’ were some of the highlights from the set that veered from some old school country to alt-folk and, why not? some rock in there for good times’ sakes.
Sadly, the hay war got really ugly and some ne’er-do-wells started shoving heavy bunches of hay towards the stage, hitting the band. The atmosphere got thick and cloudy with the dust and all of a sudden, I didn’t miss the polluted air from Mexico City.
But that’s the only bad thing about the night, but hey, give people bales of hay and alcohol and well, it’s a good thing smoking was banned inside the place. The hoedown was a heckuva great time and it will probably the only time I see body surfing in a country gig.
Dan Haywood’s New Hawks
Pete David & The Payroll Union
About the author: I found hay (or was it straw? I can never tell the difference, I’m a city slicker) inside my trousers. This is weird.