45 Consortium Summer Party – Black Mekon – Cherry Pickles – Birmingham – Live Review

45 Consortium Party
Black Mekon – Cherry Pickles
Hare and Hounds, Birmingham
10th August 2018

Fighting Boredom got an email, it went ‘Pssst Consortium member, Are you in Birmingham UK on August 10th? If so, we’re having a party and you’re invited.We will be playing and our new favourite band CHERRY PICKLES will be playing too.’ Now being very partial to Black Mekon and guessing that this is a chance to see them play the singles that they released before ‘One In The Hate’ we bought tickets immediately. Read on to hear what we thought

‘Can someone get me a shot of tequila!’ the singer and guitarist of Cherry Pickles is nervous. The last time I saw her was at the Black Mekon album launch where she was standing on the drum kit shouting along to ‘No Prom Will Have Us’. She will be crowd surfing later on in the evening but at the moment she’s nervous.  For no good reason. 

The smaller room at the Hare and Hounds hosts the 45 Consortium party this evening, it’s a celebration for the people that bought into the bundle of seven inch singles that Black Mekon released before the One in the Hate album. I bought them on the strength of a show here last year and they are a brilliant slice of punk attitude and fuzzed up nastiness. The stage has a massive cactus, hand and cardboard TV, there’s leaves coming out of the monitors and drum kit and a cuddly monkey in a coffin at the back. None of this is made clear, I’ve found with Black Mekon it’s better to just go with it. There’s one of Swampmeat Family Band playing rockabilly, bubblegum, funk and everything as cool in between. To top it off there is a mirror ball slowly rotating in the middle of the room that just makes this whole thing perfect.

Cherry Pickles come on to a good crowd, from the cat calling and laughing it’s pretty clear that they know a fair few of the audience. There’s two of Black Mekon on stage resplendent in white with their masks and the singer and drummer, both female and both also perfectly poised in white. The drummer stands, which is obviously as cool as anything. They start and it’s an old school Crampsish rockabilly groove, the vocal is drawled , cool and very laid back. It’s high guitars, screams and feedback, very surf tinged and sci-fi feeling. The drums slow down and they play a maudlin song, with a broken hearts and switchblades groove. They are crude, rough and ready, but that’s the point. It works. The drums are simple but they are exactly what’s needed, for one song she plays them with maracas, the guitars are rockabilly, surf and spaghetti western twang, it’s just cool. They play a slow garage rockabilly jam that’s for ‘ A werewolf called Jimmy’ that descends into an evil sad distorted mess with ‘But I still love you Jimmy the Werewolf’ over and over finishing with a howl. 

Someone supplies the aforementioned Tequila and the set ends with the drummer grinning her head off and the singer in the crowd throwing an inflatable lizard around. A great set that a friend christens ‘all twang and flotsam’.

Black Mekon reappear dressed in black, their superhero masks in  place and the drummer in his usual Black Mekon waistcoat and flat cap. They kick it off with slow drums and harmonica, but loud, so loud, the guitar comes and it’s as fuzzy, distorted and nasty as you know it’s going to be, the sound is broken, distorted, rock’n’roll. He throws the harp to the floor, pulls his guitar around and the sound is devastating. They have two guitars and a drummer, basic, easy and all it needs. The vocal is distorted to the point of almost unrecognisable and it is of course perfect. There’s a bunch of kids in front of us going bananas and Black Mekon turn into the superhero saviours of Garage Rock. 

The music is the singles tonight, the album takes a back seat as they tear through their 45’s. It’s a big heap of rockabilly, rock’n’roll, fuzzed to fuck punk masterpieces. The genius of the simplicity of the tunes smashes through as they sing together at one mic stand, the vocals masterfully made to sound fuzzy, nasty and pure.

The guys are exactly as they always look, I’ve no idea of names so don’t ask okay, the one on the right with the swagger and quiff, lightning bolt on his guitar strap dancing and moving to the  noise. The one on the left with the longer hair, attitude and voice who always looks ever so slightly unhinged as he sings and the drummer with his huge beard and glasses who keeps it all together and moving towards rock’n’roll madness. Black Mekon, switching to a slower, sleazy, sexy groove dripping with sweat, moonshine and lust. Just a tad smoother and latin tinged. But it doesn’t last. They finish with hip swiveling, head grinding rockabilly as ever distorted all the way out there. They don’t ever play for too long, just enough for us lucky people.

The night ends with a dude in a Stooges shirt winning the only copy of a new single and then we are done. Whatever they are playing get to see them, Black Mekon, masked, suited and booted. Fuzzed up goodness for everyone.

Black Mekon

Cherry Pickles

Black Mekon’s website is www.blackmekon.com, they also have a Bandcamp page, are on Facebook and Tweet as @blackmekon.

Cherry Pickles have a Bandcamp page, are on Facebook and Instagram.

All words by Adrian Bloxham, all photos by Martin Ward.

Adrian Bloxham

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