The Urban Voodoo Machine – Bedford, Esquires - 13 October 2017 Print E-mail
Written by Martin Haslam   
Sunday, 22 October 2017 04:40

For the fifth year, The Urban Voodoo Machine bring their unique brand of bourbon soaked gypsy blues, bop and stroll to Bedford Esquires. The two previous years saw them mourning the losses of Rob Skipper and Nick Marsh. Never ones to slow down, they regrouped and soldiered on, seemingly constantly on the road.


UVM Flyer


This year, they have kindly brought their entire ‘Gypsy Hotel’ line up with them. This usually only takes place in London, so I was really looking forward to tonight. Long John Laundry’s Blues Collective are charged with warming up the crowd, playing swampy blues from all their albums, as well as his recently released Black Devil Byrds project, which is particularly fine.


After quite a build-up, Los Plantronics begin with an acoustic number. They stand directly in front of the crowd, with the stage behind them, and all eyes are drawn to the eight piece and their flamenco style dancer. Once onstage and plugged in, they are a revelation. A Norwegian, Mariachi flavoured, surf punk band, they are awesome to behold and hear. I’d heard they were great, but nothing prepared me for their spectacle.


Los Plantronics header photoPhoto courtesy of


I love seeing a band for the first time and being knocked out by them. While there are similarities between them and the UVM, Los Plantronics clearly have their own style. Sharing vocals, they intersperse Dick Dale/Link Wray style instrumentals with hectic original songs and some inspired covers. They end with their drummer leaping over the stage barrier into the crowd to sing ‘Shortenin’ Bread’, in a manic, Cramps stylee. He is stripped to the waist and wearing a Mexican wrestling mask. I was so impressed, I bought the album; ‘Surfing Times’. Check them out.


The tantalising, burlesque fire eater, Trixie Tassels treats us to a smokin’ routine before the familiar lament sees The Urban Voodoo Machine march slowly through the audience. The mood is a little lighter than previous years, thankfully for them. Though, as you’d expect, the fallen brothers are not forgotten.


UVM logo


All albums are represented, and most here sing along to ‘High Jeopardy Thing’, ‘Crazy Maria’, ‘Not With You’ and ‘Help Me Jesus’. The band seem in fine fettle, possibly from being surrounded by their compatriots, whilst knowing that following Los Plantronics onto the stage is no easy feat.


Sadly, all these years later, there are a few drunken idiots who ignore the calls from Paul-Ronney for quiet during the softer songs, but the band rise above it and give possibly their best performance here yet. Big thanks to them for bringing their Gypsy Hotel extravaganza to Bedford. We are unlikely to see its like again.


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