The Vagaband at The Plasterers Arms, and Fat Cat Brewery Tap, 13 and 15 June 2014
On the Friday a seven-piece Vagaband played another blistering set at a packed and very hot and sweaty Fat Cat Brewery Tap, and on the Sunday was a more informal gig in one of our Sunday Afternoon Sessions which are proving so popular in some of our brilliant pubs. The Plasterers too was heaving to bursting point, especially when Sefo Kanuteh and Meriya’s set at the Blueberry closed. I do love the way these two pubs virtually opposite each other are hosting superb music in a complimentary way that enables us to catch all the music without fear of missing something at the other. In fact it was lovely to see Sarah of The Blueberry in attendance here at the Plasterers to see the Vagaband too. Brilliant!
The last few Sunday gigs I have seen here have been rammed and today it was the same. The Vagaband this afternoon comprising of Jose, Ali, Tris, Dan and Hugh warmed up with the Amelie theme and ‘If I Were a Carpenter’, ‘Wake’ and a host of other classics old and new, including Town With No Name. As anyone who knows me will be aware, I am especially loving The Whistling Song, which as well as being a very fine tune contains what I think is some of Jose’s (and Greg’s) best songwriting. It’s a sombre and pensive work, reflecting on carefree youth and the fragility and transience of friendships, relationships, and of life itself as we consider these things and toast those no longer around, in our maturing years. With a singalong chorus of “Keep on singing … There’s a time to dance, A time to die, A time to love, A time to cry, A whole lot more than you or I could dare to dream of” to its loping, almost Western-y whistling cowboy feel to the rhythm, before the melancholic line of “The road stretched out so long, I turned my back and it was gone” – it’s certainly my current favourite in their set. I think as we all become more familiar with it and learn the words more and more people will join in the chorus and it will be even more amazing!
Jose is a massive fan of Rik Mayall, who very sadly died during the week, and at both gigs the band performed a little tribute by blasting out the theme tune to The Young Ones as a musical toast, which of course had the places singing along with gusto.
I think we are quite lucky to have the Vagaband playing gigs like this in pubs – it is always a great pleasure to see them on a proper big stage – they are a band who thrive in front of an audience and simply love to play, and these intimate, informal pub gigs are relaxed and sometimes playful but always a treat for the ears and a really fun experience. I overheard so many comments from fans old and new praising their sound, songs, vocals, drumming, sax, bass, squeezebox, all of it! Their local following is such that they pretty much pack out any place they perform at. The Plasterers is one of those and the atmosphere when these two come together is always something special.
words and photos (c) richard shashamane 2014