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A Tale of a City

Once upon a time, in a city called Bath, history was made. This little city, with its Roman heritage, played host to the Norwegian behemoth known as Los Plantronics.

These visitors from Norway started there UK jaunt in Oslo at 4am landing at London Heathrow at 9.30am, and having been picked up and driven by yours truly and Steve (the driver) these troubadours, of the self proclaimed Mariachi Death Surf, arrived in Bath early afternoon Friday 14th October.

Having unloaded the mini-bus and having had a pint of the West Countries finest beers, at the venue for the impending spectacle The Royal Oak (Lower Bristol Road), several members of the band partook of the Thermae Spa in the centre of the old Roman city. Your humble host then set about ensuring that the evening’s events would run as smoothly as was humanly possible, with several hiccups the scene was set. Having earlier that day picked up Paul-Ronney Angel (the celebrated owner & master of ceremonies at the Gypsy Hotel, and ringleader of The Urban Voodoo Machine), he kindly offered to do an impromptu mini solo set of rabble-rousing renditions of UVM songs.

With the bands feed and watered, and the pub only half full your humble narrator, Flame Boy and Paul-Ronney disembarked this good ship and headed to my flat to pick up the merchandise to sell after the gig. While in the flat we took the weight off our feet, Paul-Ronney picked up the Harmony Jazz acoustic, that idly sat against the wall, and began to play some filthy arse blues, he then invited yours truly to pick songs for the set. Having determined that we should return in time for the Edsel Furys set and having picked up some bourbon en-route, we arrived back at the Royal Oak to a packed house, a happy landlord, and a storming set from the Furys! They opened the show with there perfect blend of Garage, Rhythm & Blues and Thrash!, they even dedicated a brilliant version of ‘Action Women’ to yours truly.

Having partaken in several drinks and having digested some soulful tunes from the voodoo doctor DJ’s (Joss Hutton and Deejay Eddie Boyes), the stage was set for the might of the Gypsy carnivale. As Paul-Ronney took to the floor there was a jubilant sense that something quite unique was happening, mixed with a sense that at any moment anything could happen! This cocktail of exalted danger was heavy in the air, and was so intoxicating that the voodoo was stirred and the blues unleashed; our souls had just been sold to the devil for fine tunes and a thunderous rousing!

As the lyrics to ‘Off to Rehab’ serenaded those assembled the crashing foot of Paul-Ronney pounded the floor boards of the old tavern, and encourged the auidience to join in the singing of the chorus; as the drunkenness of the moment enveloped the audience, the new gospel was in the hands of the enigmatic front man. The mini set was drawn to an end with a rousing one-man version of the tale of the fallen ‘The Real Criminals’, this epic mind bended celebration of the beauty of the underbelly was a perfect audience pleaseer, Paul-Ronney had the audience clapping in unison replicating the percussion of the recorded version and had them stamping the boards in time to the bass line and snake charming drums of the original song from Urban Voodoo Machine’s debut album ‘Bourbon Soaked Gypsy Blues Bop ‘n’ Stroll’

Through an air that was thick with sweat, magic and booze, Paul-Ronney drew his sermon to an end by introducing his ‘favourite band’ to the floor. The audience erupted as this band of nine walked through the crowd and took up the instruments, Los Plantronics were about to tear it up with a set that would see an audience and band connect in a way I had never seen before ……. voodoo was certainly in the air! This was the epitome of living loud.

The heat in the Royal Oak was as dry as the desert and the anticipation was as wet as the tequila that had been drunk all night. The set opened with Los Plantronic’s epic version of ‘The Good, The Bad and the Ugly’, that saw the audience come under the spell of Mariachi Death Surf; the magic was happening and the atmosphere was explosive, the energy was immense! As the brass section dueled with the guitars, the drums pounded with the dignity of leadership, while the congas and organ caressed and sang a sweet lullaby that charmed and deflowered those in attendance. The band eloquently executed, with fine precision, tunes such as ‘Tijuana May y Juana’, Hieronymus Bosch’ and ‘Surfin’ the Prairie’; the audience stood in awe of the spectacle unfolding before their very eyes!

A yard of ale was sent to the front of audience and handed to the band, and as they drank from it the audience chanted; the unification was almost complete, the connection a had been made and the celebration and sacrifice was being performed. As the band started the glorious ‘I Wanna Be Your Driver’ a bottle of Sailor Jerry Rum was passed among both audience and band, this encouraged an energy to continue escalating as the party began reaching climax. The church styled organ intro of ‘Stax Delirium’ lead the audience into a frenzy, as the room became immersed in the heavenly sound of brass and the funk of bot bass and guitars!

With Paul-Ronney joining Los Plantronics in with their revelry, the end was never going to be the end. There was no chance of the band leaving the floor, they could only carry on; and they did with a storming version of ‘Black Cactus’, that had Paul-Ronney on harmonica and improvised vocal, turning the stage into a whirling dervish fantasy of ecstasy. As the closing songs got closer the audience was ready to riot, ‘Devil with a Blue Dress’ has never sounded better as a possessed audience joined in the chorus. The final song of the night was the rip-roaring cover of ‘Shenna is a Punk Rocker’, which gifted the audience one of the best gigs they are ever likely to witness.

There was not a scowl or dismissive face anywhere in sight as the mariachi celebration was completed. Chaos had never tasted so good! This was a triumph of enlightened marketing and the power of collective communication crossing national borders.

As the night continued, I saw smiles and celebration abound in all areas of the venue. I received thanks, and praise, as did the bands that had performed. I danced badly with my lady, while Paul-Ronney and Deejay Eddie Boyes made up for my bad moves, she loves to dance and these guys can certainly step out in style!  The band drank and mingled with the punters, and the tunes remained glorious, and as the night moved into the early hours, life had been celebrated and friendships had been formed, all was well in the this pocket of the world. The End … for now!!