LIVE: Hey Bulldog @ Jimmy’s | 27.10.18

WORDS BY BENJAMIN CASSIDY      PHOTOS BY JOESY LOWESY

Before the Hey Bulldog gig, at Jimmy’s, last Saturday, we chatted with Ben, Matt and Rob, who, collectively, are rock trio Hey Bulldog. We covered all sorts of topics and I managed to find out aspects about the group’s individuals. There was no shortage of banter either, including some cheeky interpreting of questions too, to keep me on my toes. It was as good a way as any to calm those pre-gig nerves, on what was a huge night for this lot. Plus, it’s good fun!

Earlier today I was having one of my little talks with my partner’s eleven-year-old daughter, Lily. She asked me what’s my favourite instrument that I can’t or haven’t played. So, I put it to you.

Ben: Well, I wouldn’t mind having a crack at a big organ.

Rob: Probably a grand piano, if I could learn to use the foot pedals and everything – I’m alright on a keyboard or electric piano, but a real one would be amazing to learn to play fully. That would be amazing! Yeah, grand piano would be mine. One of the reasons to want to live forever is to be able to learn every instrument.

Matt: Saxophone, or trombone. Something from the brass section of an orchestra, that would be cool. I’ve never done it, other than the recorder at school!

Is the name of your band inspired by The Beatles song?

Ben: Yeah, it is (Ben beams proudly), getting it in before anyone else.

Matt: Yeah, we’re all Beatles nuts. When we started playing it wasn’t as well known as some of their other songs. We were called that before the Beatles re-issue stuff came out. Now everyone’s got Spotify, or whatever, it’s listened to loads.

Rob: Yeah, I wouldn’t say it was obscure, but, it wasn’t a hit or anything. We just loved the name. 

Guys, any new releases coming up?

Rob: We’ve just recorded a new single.

Ben: It’s just finishing being mastered now.

Matt: (It’s called) ‘No Future Part 2’.

Ben: We’ve got another single being released around February time too.

Rob: Yeah, we’ll probably collate it, along with some other tracks into an album, next year. We’ve released around four or five singles in the last few years, so, we’ll use some of those and put it with some new stuff, too.

Matt: I’m looking forward to holding a vinyl copy of our album, having pressed our own record. That’ll be very nice.

How do you find the Manchester music scene?

Matt: It’s wonderful. Like a proper community. It didn’t used to be that way, it was quite insular when I first moved from London about ten years or go. It’s great now, everyone knows everyone and there’s a lot of love for one another.

Ben: The bands supporting us tonight are mates, we just met through gigging and chatting to.

Rob: The only kind of rivalry now is the sort you want. If we go and see local groups we know, and, they’re absolutely nailing the night, we want to go out at our next gig and smash it too. That’s positive though, and, inspires you and encourages you.

Matt: We all help each other out, where we can – with rehearsal space and even equipment, etc. We go and see other groups play and they come to see us.

Last one now, then I’ll let you go: Last gig you went to?

Ben: Deja Vega, last night. We all went.

Rob: Before that it was Brian Jones Town Massacre, last Saturday.

Well ahead of the first support act going on, there was a sizeable crowd, downstairs at Jimmy’s. It’s a venue known for quality acts and some of the best band nights around; tonight’s gig proved no exception. After a DJ set from Mike Denton (of Lucid Dream), La Mode were the first live act on the bill. They got things going with a heavy rock sound, the backdrop to a strong, raw vocal from the lead singer, who, thrashed around the stage utterly owning it as their own.

The drums clashed and clapped pulsing rhythms, alongside meaty guitar riffs that ripped the atmosphere open, declaring intent. They were here to make their mark and did exactly that. Far more than just a thud of drums and screaming guitar work, they had a bluesy feel to them too, often slowing down to offer what were well written and equally well delivered love songs, mournful and pained, fused with an electricity that was their unpredictability. After a year long hiatus, they’re back. You can catch La Mode live, in December, when they’ll be the main support for Carnival Club, in The Deaf Institute on December 15th.

 

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Next up were Gardenback. Jangly guitars and a traditional “Madchester” sound base was this group’s modus operandi. They’re a tight outfit and reminiscent of some of Kasabian’s stuff, with their guitar work. That’s not to say they didn’t have uniqueness, though. The vocal harmonies were a defining part of their onstage sound, one they’d honed and gotten down to professional standard. It worked brilliantly on stage, acting as a sort of live “double-tracking” effect.

Gardenback let the songs do the talking and played the type of music that makes people get up and jump around (that’s exactly what happened). On top of their game and with some songs sang back to them by their followers – flattery and appreciation doesn’t come much bigger than that. They played for around half an hour, but, could have gone on with plenty of material and more than enough in the tank.

The main event. Whoops, cheers and a blistering start, by Hey Bulldog. Straight to it. It’s hard to believe that they are a three piece, with the power of the punch they pack into their performances. Drummer (Ben) and bassist (Matt) combine to make a sound that easily filled the bottom floor of Jimmy’s. Rob, (lead guitarist and lead singer) was the lungs and the nerve centre, tearing it up with riffs and lead lines that were electric.

A diverse sound, that fuses elements of 60’s psychedelia with brilliantly creative song building, performed with imagination and a very clear understanding of how to best incorporate technical trickery, to add to their sound. A huge aspect of their sound is their relentless and frantic energy, with Rob dropping to his knees and grinding out solos, Jimmy Hendrix style. The performance was an inspiring one and what Saturday nights are made for. The basement of Jimmy’s was well and truly theirs, and the fan’s now. A real den of sound, made by the group and built upon by the audience, who were having an absolute riot, yelling, clapping and jumping up and down.

At around two thirds of the way into their set, Hey Bulldog seemed to shift gear, again and up the ante. It was as if they were challenging themselves to ensure there was nothing left they’d have to give by the end. That sort of commitment to music, to the fans and to themselves is something special, indeed. It really was an athletic performance and one that showed what this band are capable of. They explode into action, in what appears to be instantaneously, then, hold everyone present in the palms of their hands, by creating sheer emotion by way of vocal and slowed down playing. It was amazing, how they could slow down a moment and keep you in it. Absolute wizardry and astounding artistry, all happening in front of you. As Hey Bulldog reached the end of their set, the silence was deeply felt. They’d made it able to be forgotten what quietness was – there was barely any between songs – the set, around an hour and ten minutes, was non-stop.

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