David Attenborough should consider it as an adjunct to his Evolution series.
It would certainly appear, to me, that as one band stops playing Captain Beefheart music, Mother Nature detects the void and another immediately blossoms and moves in, to fill that breach.
In this case, the breach fillers are Orange Claw Hammer, their name truncated to the rather apt, for Scots folk anyway, OCH, and they’re from the Eastern seaboard of Scotland – but, hey, no one’s perfect!
I’ve seen them a few times before, but never in my home town of Glasgow and tonight they’re in Dukes Bar located in that trendy perineum between Byres Road and the Finnieston main drag, otherwise known as Stobhill.
The material that they play comes from throughout the Beefheart catalogue, but with the lions’ share emanating from Trout Mask Replica, Spotlight Kid and Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller) in fairly equal measures.
Dukes Bar is the size of a phone box that should consider going on a diet, while the magnitude of the crowd, that turned up ,would shame no Scottish Junior League ground, on a Saturday afternoon. The bar has two doors on different walls and I’m fairly sure that, like some Marx Brothers movie, as people pushed in one, some poor folk were getting squeezed out of the other, onto the pavement.
The experience was on the hairy side of uncomfortable and I’m actually glad that the pals that I wanted to be there couldn’t manage along.
From them opening with Dropout Boogie, through to the encore of Golden Birdies/Ice Rose they were an absolute joy to behold. Steve Kettley plays the saxophone. Sometimes, when the notion takes him, he even plays two – these go simultaneously through octave, delay and wah-wah pedals (channeling his inner David Jackson, I suspect) and on the relentless and mighty Bat Chain Puller he goes one further and deploys a Hohner Melodica . Guitarist, Stuart Allardyce plays like a man possessed all night and enjoys his own showcase in Flavour Bud Living. Dave Beard, meanwhile, not only plays but wrestles a muscular Rickenbacker into submission – all of these shenanigans under the watchful eye of Des Travis juggling those infectious rhythms on drums.
It’s seldom that your author gets a name check from the stage. However, lo and behold, Steve, the second best dressed man in the room, mentions me, during the introduction to a new part of their repertoire – as I’d only gone and (t)asked them, the last time I saw them, to “go learn Suction Prints”.
This modest reference seemed to impress the barmaid, no end, and I was then afforded great preferential attention every time I approached the bar, thereafter.
By my reckoning (but I’m no expert) Orange Claw Hammer tackled four tunes that the Magic Band have never played and the mid-tune grins on their faces as they negotiate the various musical stops, starts, roundabouts, chicanes & hairpin bends of ‘When Big Joan Sets Up’ told this audient that they were enjoying it every bit as much as I was.
The extended soundscape intro to Click Clack is currently my personal highlight of a set that changes and improves every time I hear them.
Simply put (and if they’re stuck for a quote)
“Orange Claw Hammer play Beefheart music reverentially, which is the way it should be, but with a big twinkle in their eyes and a swagger in their step!“
Normally I’d provide the set-list but I’ll leave it as a surprise for you.
Still thinking about going to see them? OCH go on, you know you really should!
If you haven’t already, go buy their album here:
or at their next gig!