Review and Photography by John Bentley

Tonight The Lovely Eggs play the first gig of their tour to promote the new album, ‘This is Eggland’. It’s all rather special as the venue is ‘The Yorkshire House’, a gig-loving pub in the band’s hometown of Lancaster. The Yorkshire House is a small venue and the tickets quickly sold-out when they went on sale, so we are expecting a classic hot sweaty evening of gyrating bodies and uplifting loud music.

The Lovely Eggs at The Yorkshire House, Lancaster

I arrive at the pub around 7pm and it’s a bit quiet. I’m told the gig doesn’t start until 8pm (not what the publicity said) so I buy a pint of Black Sheep Ale (this is a proper pub) and prepare to wait. I tell the pub landlady this is my fourth time to see The Lovely Eggs. She is not at all impressed. “Only fourth?” she says. “They only live around the corner from here”. Looking at posters on the wall it soon becomes clear that local girl Holly Ross has played here on many occasions, including as a member of all-female Lancaster band Angelica, before she formed The Lovely Eggs, with husband David Blackwell.

Upstairs in the pub is a lengthy concert room with a bar at one end and a stage at the other, which somehow looks just right for a good gig. First on stage tonight is another local band Mr Ben and the Bens. You don’t often expect much from a band that is third on the bill, but the Bens are really great. They are melodic, have a real pop-sensibility and are great musicians. Frontman Ben (what else would he be called) plays some great guitar and a bit of trumpet too.

Mr Ben and the Bens at The Yorkshire House, Lancaster

Next on is Porky the Poet, who most of us know as Phill Jupitus off the telly (and radio). Porky, dressed in a smart pin-striped suit and a tie, gives a hilarious performance reciting a series of his poems, each one punctuated by highly entertaining background story banter. He wryly comments that neither Ben nor Holly felt confident enough to come on-stage to introduce him tonight. Strange, he observes, when they are supposed to be egotistical lead singers!

Porky the Poet aka Phil Jupitus at The Yorkshire House, Lancaster

As an opener Porky queries the significance of the curiously named ‘Yorkshire House’: being situated in Lancashire, is it the Embassy for Yorkshire he wonders. The first Poem is ‘They’ve All Grown Up in the Beano’, which gives an update on what (at least in the Jupitus mind) the characters from the kids comic might be doing now. He brandishes an old copy of The Beano, which he then gives to a young lady in the front row, observing that it predates her by some years. Other subjects for his poems are fat mods (old Paul Weller fans have become rather chubby, he observes), jogging to work (quite an obscene concept), meeting Paul McCartney (it didn’t go well) and Theresa May (why does he fancy her?). There’s also a story about him nervously buying a porn video aged 16: while the explicit pictures on the box looked promising the video inside turned out to be Jacques Tati’s ‘Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday’ – not what a randy teenage boy was looking for.

The Lovely Eggs at The Yorkshire House, Lancaster

The Lovely Eggs at The Yorkshire House, Lancaster

And so to The Lovely Eggs, or Les Ouefs Charmant, as Phill Jupitus referred to them in a recent tweet. Holly and David take to the stage, with face glitter and DIY psychy-style drapes (fortunately they don’t go as far as full Rick Wakeman-length capes). There’s real electricity in the air for this tour-opening local gig. Nowadays the Eggs would normally expect to play bigger venues, but I would imagine that they are gigging at The Yorkshire House as a thank you to the local fanbase and the venue for their support in the past and probably because they just enjoy playing these smaller intimate gigs.

While copies of ‘This is Eggland’ are on sale tonight, the album is not officially released until later in the month, so there’s a lot of new songs on the setlist. Nevertheless the Eggs have played some of the material live before, so hard-core fans are probably familiar with at least some of songs. They kick-off with a couple of newies, beginning with ‘I’m With You’, a number that gives Holly an opportunity to demonstrate her punk vocal credentials.

The Lovely Eggs at The Yorkshire House, Lancaster

The set has plenty of old favourites, starting with ‘Food’, which contains one of the classic Eggs lyrics – ‘I want to masticate with you’. The new album seems to be very much a down-to-basics DIY, loud, lo-fi, melodic psych-punk Eggs album, with plenty of buzzing guitar, thumping drums and hollered vocals, as with recent single ‘I Shouldn’t Have Said That’. Holly reckons the album sounds like ‘a chip shop on fire’. ‘Dickhead’ continues the Eggs’ tradition of in-your-face blunt commentary on the human situation (‘People are Twats’, ‘Fuck It!, ‘Don’t Look at Me (I Don’t Like It)’, etc). Holly dedicates ‘Dickhead’ to a local builder following a recent encounter. She explains that she and David practice in a local music room and take their heavy equipment there in a pushchair. David butts-in to mention that their little boy doesn’t need the pushchair anymore, not that we needed an explanation. Apparently the builder, or ‘dickhead’, in question gave them a look, like it meant the end of civilisation as we know it.

There are some surprises in the new material, like ‘Big Sea’, which includes some synthy warbles that sound like a Grandaddy track. ‘Wiggy Giggy’ is a bit of noisy nonsense fun, with David chanting into the mike as he hits the drums. As expected there’s a few expletives thrown into the mix!

The Lovely Eggs at The Yorkshire House, Lancaster

There’s plenty of chat with the audience between songs, while Holly tunes her guitar or pours another can of beer into a pint glass. Did we hear the band in session on Marc Riley’s radio programme the other night? Ever down-to-earth and self-deprecating, Holly says she is relieved her mother didn’t manage to hear it. However, the band really came over great in the interview. Asked by Marc if they had ever thought of getting a bass player, Holly was keen to keep the band numbers down – “We’ve one rider and we like to drink it”, she quipped. David added that it was great with the two of them as it was – “Like a family on tour”.

The Eggs are keen for the audience to have a bit of fun and Holly encourages some serious gyration. The floor starts to vibrate as waves of bodies jump and surge around and this energy reaches a peak on the aforementioned ‘Fuck It!’ Clearly some audience members have been anticipating this Eggs anthem and a scarf is unfurled in the front row with those very words emblazoned across it.

The Lovely Eggs at The Yorkshire House, Lancaster

The Lovely Eggs at The Yorkshire House, Lancaster

And so the gig finally comes to an end around 11pm. The Eggs never do ‘fake’ encores and so they just give warm thanks to the fans for turning-out and making it a great first night of the tour. Holly leaves the stage to head back to chat to fans at the merchandising table while David, looking like a drowned rat dripping with sweat, tidies-up around his drum kit. The Lovely Eggs never disappoint.

Setlist: I’m With You; Witchcraft; Food; I Shouldn’t Have Said That; Dickhead; Repeat It; Magic Onion; Hello I Am Your Sun; Wiggy Giggy; Goofin’ Around (in Lancashire); People are Twats; Big Sea; Fuck It; Return of Witchcraft; Allergies; Would You Fuck.

The Lovely Eggs at The Yorkshire House, Lancaster

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