Woodpigeon And Withered Hand And The Lake Poets @ The Westgarth2, Middlesbrough Thursday 27th January 2011

“How does he really expect to be happy when he listens to death metal bands?” (Religious Songs by Withered Hand)

A quote from“Religious Songs” from the fantastic album “Good News” by Withered Hand. No, I don’t think that’s his real name. As I don’t think a lovely lad from Sunderland was named Lake Poets by his mum and dad, Mr & Mrs Poets??? Or that a big bear of a man from Canada was named Woodpigeon. Although all solo artists they all name themselves as if they are bands. I like it. Joe Jones, Bob Taylor and Kevin Smith would not hold the same appeal. Anyway, I’m waffling. Its taken me 3 weeks to do this review so to be procrastinating so much during the actual writing is a sin that Withered Hand may not forgive me of. (more explaination of his Religious overtures later) So, here we go…….


Brought  up on shipbuilding, guitars that look too big for him, refused service at the bar, hailing from a tough working class town on the coast, songs of love and despair, an audience in the palm of his hand… Roddy Frame at Dingwalls in Newcastle in the summer of 83 or The Lake Poets at The Westgarth in Middlesbrough in January 2011. Answer…..Both. This was my second view of The Lake Poets and having had the demo since the first time (last October) it was like seeing an old friend. This boy is going to be massive. The reverential tones of an almost completely silent audience at a gig is testament to the effect he has on those who hear him. Look out for him before he pops up on Jools Holland and you never get the chance. The bugle certainly does sound again.


Now I have to be honest I’d never even heard the name let alone any songs. And when he stumbled onto stage and mumbled some words like a second rate Emo Phillips I feared the worst. But he was brilliant. The fact I am sat here listening to his album which I bought on the night is testament to how much of an impression he made. No disrespect to Woodpigeon but he stole the show. Almost everyone I’ve spoken to since have been starry-eyed about this performance. His songs are full of religious imagery and he comes across like some crazy preacher but the tunes are catchy and the lyrics both poignant and hilarious; “We wrote PAVEMENT on our shoes, We stole a biro and we paid our dues, We paid our respects we wrote “confusion is sex” and on your shoulder bag I wrote THE SILVER JEWS”. Just had to fast forward to New Dawn on the CD to remind myself how great it is. A heady mix of Half Man, Half Biscuit’s; The best things in life: “There is nothing better in life than writing on the sole of your slipper with a biro (on a Saturday night instead of going to the pub) and The Pooh Sticks; On Tape. Religious Songs is a Christmas number one if ever I’ve heard one. It mixes religious metaphors with throw away nonsense but it is marvellous; “If there’s manna from heaven then you’re disinclined to share. You stole my heart and I stole your underwear”. The album is called Good News released on SL Records, go buy the Gospel according to Withered Hand.


Firstly, I thought Woodpigeon was great but I have to admit that after the Lake Poets and Withered Hand it was not my highlight. Maybe we were spoilt by the two previous acts. Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed the set. The whole night was great but out of the three this was third. A great big fella from Canada. His voice is soft and soothing and the songs tell tales of tragedy and loss and make you feel all comfortable and happy but for the life of me I couldn’t remember one of them afterwards. I will have to buy some of his stuff and get myself acquainted as Jon from Suitcase Orchestra has assured me that it will be worth it.

A quick note on tonights venue. It wa the first time the brand new Westgarth2 has been used for a gig. Sofas on stage, tables with table-cloths, dimmed lights and hat stands. You would not believe you were in a working mens club in Middlesbrough. I’m looking forward to more. The Crookes on the 28th of March and Cattle & Canes single launch on the 1st of April look like following this as cracking gigs in an intimate and very cool venue. Thanks to Jon at Suitcase Orchestra and Andy & Phil at The Kids are Solid Gold for another great night in Boro.


THE LAKE POETS         http://www.myspace.com/thelakepoets

WITHERED HAND        http://witheredhand.com/

WOODPIGEON              http://www.myspace.com/woodpigeon

WESTGARTH                http://www.westgarths.com

THE KIDS ARE SOLID GOLD       http://www.myspace.com/thekidsaresolidgold

SUITCASE ORCHESTRA                 http://suitcaseorchestra.com/

By peter on February 12, 2011

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