Friday, 16 December 2011

Stroke Club Presents: The Pigs & Onions @ Gulliver’s, Thursday 15th December 2011

In the manner that a fishmonger might chalk up the best deals of the day on a board outside a shop, at about 9.30pm the list of bands appears inside Gulliver’s, the scribbled white chalk just about visible above the remnants of the last Stroke event. Initially it states only two bands, but after Onions have played their set, a brief addendum is added, just about fitting into the residual space, almost as an afterthought. This late addition is listed as The Pigs, although they appear to also go under the moniker Rapid Pig. To add to the ad hoc nature of things, their front man also appears as a solo artist under the guise of SpaceGhost.

This may be very confusing, but the performance is one that will stick in the memory bank. Before they have started, attention is diverted to the stack of A3 sized sheets of paper that contain the hand written – or scrawled – lyrics to the set. Kneeling over these, staring at them intensely is Eoin O’Connor, aka SpaceGhost.

Before the band is halfway through the first number, O’Connor is crawling off the front of the stage, his legs flailing in the air as if he is trying to swim across the floor. Even in this twisted position, the microphone is still held to his mouth, the vocals flowing. The band looks on this with a knowing amusement, even flicking out the odd playful kick to O’Connor’s torso.

The control exerted by the other four band members as they lay down the musical background for O’Connor’s nasal chants is more restrained and suitably dense – and loud. A keyboardist produces psychedelic sounds whilst the overall experience resembles the results of too much inbreeding between Fraser King and Jim Morrison.

It’s a magnetic performance from O’Connor that does tail off towards the end as he dips into the all too easy refrain of “F*** you,” but, for a band that has not played a live set in a considerable amount of time, still impressive.

Pop permeates the set by Onions. Within 10 minutes of the trio approaching the stage with their equipment they are starting their first number. With an equally impressive speed, the seemingly empty venue now has a decent sized crowd.

Whether or not their content takes a nod to the infectious nature of songs such as Norman Gimbel’s theme tune to Happy Days, there is a contagious vibrancy to their set. So much so that a fair proportion of the crowd are now twisting in a positive way. It’s not quite approaching dancing but it’s a move in the right direction.

They have enough time changes in each song to create the illusion that three are segued together and the pace is unrelenting, ideal for a cold winter’s night.

Their tongue is not so much planted in the side of their collective cheek; it’s more like it’s against the wall of the bar. “I’ll keep taking my vitamins / So I can live with you,” they jest and at one point I’m sure they refer to one of the lesser know areas of Manchester called Belle Vue with the refrain of, “Nobody ever comes here.” Well, not unless you are a speedway enthusiast.

Taking place on the first and third Thursdays of the month, the free entry event that is the Stroke Club still throws up a fascinating array of entertainment.

Words & Photography: Ged Camera

1 comment:

  1. Thanks a lot for the review & photos. Couple of things though, the band is, was (these last nearly 12 years) and ever shall be known as _Rapid Pig_. Another thing worth pointing out - to whom do you think the 'fuck you' was aimed? If the reviewer had paid attention to the 'scrawled' notes being intoned (incidentally on nearer A2 size paper), he might have noticed that such was directed at oil companies' disastrous effect on nature, in this case, particularly sea going birds. The reference to O'Connor's outside-band work as Spaceghost is appreciated, but even scant knowledge of his work would have revealed a deep ecological concern proliferating his lyrics.

    A Keyboardist.