The much anticipated unveiling of Merry Hell finally came to pass at a sold out Citadel in St. Helens on Saturday 30th April, and it’s true to say no-one left disappointed. As the venue for the final gig for The Tansads, this metamorphosis featured the new material which will shape the identity and hopefully broad appeal of the new band, whilst still holding on tightly to the soul and integrity that gave the Tansads such a strong diehard fan base.
The splendidly good time opener ‘Drunken Serenade’ gave a notable nod to what can be expected from the new album. Andrew Kettle’s raucously rasping vocal pulls along a song that greets you like an old friend, something startling true of each new song unwrapped before its willing audience.
‘Crooked Man’, a melodically hypnotic attack on the bankers that led many to financial ruin, introduced itself as an instant crowd favourite. ‘Rosanna’s Song’, highlights the bands ability to seamlessly dip into the more sparse arrangement when required, whilst paradoxically ‘Over The Border’ led by Bob Kettles magical mandolin has a gloriously expansive canvas. ‘War Between Ourselves’, with John Kettle’s searing guitar and social observation, shows Merry Hell can stride along a rocky edge if needed. And they kept coming, from Virginia Kettle’s wonderfully ironic ‘Butcher And The Vegan’ to ‘The Gentle Man’, keyboard player Lee Gouldings ebullient tribute to his grandfather. ‘Lean On Me’ and ‘This Time’ bounced along effortlessly, whilst Andrew and Virginia traded lead vocals on the debut albums wittily fatalistic title track ‘Blink And You Miss It’.
Interspersed with the new material came glorious Tansads staples, ‘Fear Of Falling’, ‘G Man’, ‘Satisfied’ and the punk roots inspired ‘Iron Man’, all greeted with near manic enthusiasm by everyone present. The set was completed by the new near-as-we-dare pop feel of ‘One More Day’, before John Kettle took the stage alone with ‘Horses’. ‘Up The Revolution’ anthemically completed the encore and a memorable night.
With bassist Andrew Dawson, drummer Phil Knight and rhythm guitarist Tim Howard providing Merry Hell’s solid foundation the rest are free to replicate the good time feel so fundamental to the Tansads reputation. Saturday 30th April at The Citadel had all the feel of an ‘I was there’ night, and the anticipation that something significant lies on Merry Hells coming horizon.
Review by Paul Ariss - Thanks Paul, an honour to be reviewed by a scriptwriter for “Shameless” no less!