The Urban Voodoo Machine - Hebden Bridge, The Trades Club - 24th May 2013 Print E-mail
Written by Ben Hughes   
Wednesday, 05 June 2013 03:40


Hebden Bridge is a sleepy little market town near Halifax, quite beautiful really, and a place I would like to spend more time exploring. Interestingly it has been voted the fourth quirkiest place to live in the world and has the highest number of lesbians per head in the UK; what that tells me I'm not really sure, but by the look of the place you need a lot of cash to live here. Not surprisingly really it has a proportionally high drug and alcohol problem, probably due in part to the youth having fuck all to do here being stuck in the middle of nowhere. There is salvation for the music lovers among them though as it hosts an annual blues festival and the popular Trades Club is a decent little venue that has played host to the likes of Patti Smith, Dreadzone and The Jim Jones Revue. Tonight though it opens its doors for the first time to the wonderful spectacle that is The Urban Voodoo Machine who promise to inject some colour into this quite cold and dreary Friday night.


Celebrating 10 years with the release of the 'Rare Gumbo' odds and sods album and an upcoming anniversary show in London, this show happens to be the first in a small run of UK dates that will culminate in an appearance at the Avalon Stage at Glastonbury, a festival that this band were made to play.


As the familiar intro tape kicks in the band make their way through the crowd to the stage, backs to the crowd they sway side to side in unison to the tune. Dressed up like something hot from the Rio Carnival, saxophone player/dancer Luci Fire Tusk takes the mic and introduces the band in full camped-up circus ringleader style and the entertainment commences with the customary spaghetti western tinged instrumental 'Theme From The Urban Voodoo Machine'. Then it's into a quick 1-2 from last album 'In Black 'n' Red', the classy single 'High Jeopardy Thing' full of brass and late night drunken suss and 'Cheers For The UVMlive86Tears', musically to my ears it's a sort of a ramshackle and bombastic gypsy take on 'Whole Lotta Rosie', a live favourite and it's great stuff indeed.


It's a good atmosphere in this room tonight, a great little venue actually and the now official 11 piece band do a good job of not falling over each other in the cramped conditions of the small stage. Enigmatic band leader Paul-Ronney Angel steers the band through a collection of now familiar songs and a few new ones from the upcoming third album 'Love, Drink & Death'. If these new songs are anything to go by the new album is not going to disappoint. 'Pipe And Slippers Man' is a stand out newie for sure, with an instant chorus that you will swear you know already, it has the whole room singing by the end. Drunken housewives mingle with groups of teenagers and ageing rockabillies who compete in the dancing, singing and beer spilling antics all in the best possible taste of course.


Stand outs for me are the upbeat rockers that shine and get the floor literally bouncing in this room tonight. 'Go East' was never going to fail to do this exact thing as does the drunken sing-a-long that is 'S.O.S. (Swim or Sink)', these songs are so good in a live environment.

As Angel pauses to remove his hat, he takes off his head scarf and literally rings the thing out, as the sweat drips to the floor it's plain to see that this man gives everything he's got on stage. You will not leave a UVM gig feeling short changed that's for sure, entertainment is the name of the game and with 10 years under their collective skull & cross-bone belt buckles, they now have it off to a fine art form. They are one of a handful of bands I have seen that can pull off an energy filled 2 hour show with ease, it didn't feel over-long and I certainly didn't feel the need to leave for the bar before they finished.


Angel is a frontman who knows how to work a crowd, and he is not afraid to get in amongst them and connect, and he does several times tonight in between playing guitar, banjo, mandolin and swigging whiskey from a spring water bottle.


The ultimate New Years Eve song 'Goodbye To Another Year' ends the main set in rip roaring style and it's nice to see an audience with a high proportion of teenagers who know the words to these songs. Encore time sees Angel and guitarist Nick Marsh return for a bluesy, slide guitar induced 'Down By The River' that leads into a surprisingly upbeat rockabilly version of 'Heroin (Put My Brothers In The Ground)'. As if that was not enough they end with their perfect gypsy/spaghetti western inspired anthem 'Love Song #666', as Paul sneers the opening line "So I fucked your sister, tried it on with your mother" a loud cheer goes up. It's a song full of classy horns and sleazy lyrics, a more jammed out version live than on record that loses none of its fire and momentum, all in all a fitting end to a glorious high energy show.




The Urban Voodoo Machine are a band in a league of their own as far as I am concerned, I don't hear anyone mixing it up musically as much as they do. Blues, Folk, Punk and Rock 'n' Roll, it's all there and that mix of instruments, it's like a complete mash up of all my favourite music and I love them for it. They have an ultra cool style and a perfectly honed stage presence, the loose, ramshackle delivery gives the feel that they are at times on the verge of falling apart musically but of course they never do, and its a great thing to witness. The pure entertainment value make them one of the best live bands in the country right now, and they make you want to drink and join the party, but don't take my word for it, go check em out in any juke joint, bar or festival stage when they come your way. You will leave drunk and with a smile on your face guaranteed.


To visit the Urban Voodoo Machine store on Amazon - CLICK HERE