Review and photography by John Bentley

The Lovely Eggs, Trades Club, Hebden Bridge, 4-6-16

Despite continually writing brilliant garage-pop songs, working with luminaries like Gruff Rhys and John Shuttleworth and getting plaudits from critics and supportive radio DJs, Lancaster’s The Lovely Eggs remain a bit of a cult underground band. Tonight I catch them at Hebden Bridge’s Trades Club, where they are playing a one-off gig, warming up for Summer Festivals.

The Trades Club was built as a socialist members club by local trades unions in 1923 and has become a legendary music venue since it was brought back to life in 1982. This unpretentious venue is down a side street next to the picturesque Rochdale Canal in the glorious Pennine valley town of Hebden Bridge.

The Lovely Eggs, Trades Club, Hebden Bridge, 4-6-16

Equally unpretentious, The Lovely Eggs are a breath of fresh air in an increasingly commercial music world, where success can be as much, if not more, about business acumen and posing as it is about the quality of the music. The Eggs, husband and wife Holly Ross and David Blackwell, are the family next door rather than aloof rockers. So as I enter The Trades Club, it’s not surprising to see the band sat chatting next to the small table of merchandise. Our family have become big Lovely Eggs fans and I purchase a tee-shirt (from David himself) for my daughter, who has still not had a chance to see them live.

The Lovely Eggs, Trades Club, Hebden Bridge, 4-6-16

Come 9pm the hall has filled up and the band stroll the short distance across the floor to the stage and, with no introduction, launch into ‘Do It To Me’ and ‘Ordinary People Unite’ from their most recent album, 2015’s ‘This Is Our Nowhere’. ‘Ordinary People’ is classic Lovely Eggs: to an unforgettable buzz guitar riff and rumbling drum pattern, sensible people are invited to unite and get together at a convention and responsible people to come together on a training day. ‘Food’ (“I wanna masticate with you”), ‘Goofin’ Around (in Lancashire)’ (a band mission statement, maybe) and ‘People Are Twats’ (their profound observation on life) follow in rapid succession, after which there is a pause during which someone in the audience shouts out congratulations to the duo on their recent 9th wedding anniversary.

The Lovely Eggs, Trades Club, Hebden Bridge, 4-6-16

A bit of audience and band interactive banter ensues. Holly explains that they like to celebrate with cider (rather than champagne) and that different alcoholic drinks have different effects. Never finish a drinking session with Baileys, she advises, as it will probably make you sick. Holly also explains that last time they gigged at Hebden Bridge she lost her voice and people bought her too many drinks. She was sick in the van on the way home and, worse still, she lost her make-up bag (a disaster for ladies, apparently).

The Lovely Eggs, Trades Club, Hebden Bridge, 4-6-16

Tonight’s setlist has something for everyone, with a wide-ranging selection of songs from over their 10 year career so far. Typical Lovely Eggs music combines humour, social observation (with a northern edge), really catchy tunes and driving guitar and drums. Besides the ‘hits’ already mentioned and others like ‘Digital Accordion’, ‘Fuck It’ (their approach to life) and ‘Panic Plants’ (maybe the only song in existence about obsessive-compulsive disorder), there’s also some welcome less regularly played material. This includes ‘Muhammad Ali and All His Friends’, a 10 second long bit of ‘Ali’ word-play nonsense that mentions the late-great boxer, Kirstie Alley and bowling alleys. Introducing the song, Holly says “Tonight there’s another star in the universe”. “What a tribute” someone yells out afterwards, and it is.

Sounding particularly powerful tonight is the psychedelic pop ‘Magic Onion’ (“He’s a magic onion, he’s running rings around me”), with David doing some rhythmic chanting from behind the drums).

The Lovely Eggs, Trades Club, Hebden Bridge, 4-6-16

The Lovely Eggs famously don’t approve of encores, which as we all know are bullshit, as bands always come back and do some more anyway. Holly tells us they’re going to finish with the band’s classic ‘Don’t Look At Me (I Don’t Like It)’ and asks for any other requests. She also lets slip that drummer David can play the TV snooker theme on the guitar. While there’s no consensus on songs from the cacophony of shouted suggestions that comes from the crowd, it appears they are all keen to hear David do the snooker theme. So Holly hands the guitar to a grinning David, who delivers a very competent version of the snooker instrumental, to strong applause.

The Lovely Eggs, Trades Club, Hebden Bridge, 4-6-16

To finish the band play (the frantic) ‘Don’t Patent that Shoe’, ‘Why Don’t You Like Me’ (a part-sung, part-spoken dialogue between two members of a band, with great spoken replies delivered by David), ‘O Death’ (with Black Sabbath guitar riff and the memorable repeated line “Eat Shit”) and ‘I Just Want Someone To Fall In Love With’. As someone puts two full pint glasses on stage for the band, Holly is clearly beginning to feel a bit boozy. “I’ve never seen her like this”, remarks David. “I haven’t been out in a long while”, says Holly. “I don’t know what’s come over me, but it always happens when we play Hebden Bridge”.

The Lovely Eggs, Trades Club, Hebden Bridge, 4-6-16

And so a really great evening draws to a close. As the band finish with ‘Don’t Look at Me’, the audience hold up mass thumbs to the lyrics “look at him with his sausage roll thumb”. I’ve seen The Lovely Eggs live three times now and this really has been the best gig and something very special. A wonderfully spontaneous and energetic live show, with an impeccable selection of the band’s songs, superbly performed.

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