Review: The Nightingales make a triumphant return to Birmingham

  • A Vindaloo Records Special with The Nightingales at the Hare & Hounds on October 19th
  • Support came from Ted Chippington and Terry & Gerry
  • The Nightingales nailed it with a relentlessly tight set

“I was walking down this road the other day”. Yes, It’s legendary non-comedian Ted Chippington. The man of few punchlines delivers his rambling blokey material with a gravelly disregard for convention, structure and humour, and it’s hilarious. We couldn’t tell you why it works. There’s something drearily lovable about Ted that connects with a hidden switch in our brains that filters the deadpan and the surreal – if you don’t connect you won’t get it. The audience at the Hare & Hounds loved it. Big cheers for the old jokes and even some “new” material. A drifting monologue about slugs and pet cats had a killer pay off and the travails of feeding seagulls in Torquay despite council persecution was explored in Ted’s usual ambivalently vague detail.

Ted Chippington

Skiffle geezers Terry and Gerry were late replacements for Fuzzbox, who pulled out, but fit the Vindaloo theme quite nicely having released their first EP Butter’s on The Bread through the label in 1984. The duo never disappoint live and Gerry’s fizzed up exuberance is always a delight, his relentless enthusiasm recalling an excited kid whose musical Christmases have all come at once. It’s irresistible as the boys plough through a raft of classics including the poignant ‘Dennis & Brian’ and ‘Wait Till You’re Older’ both from the aforementioned debut release. Audience participation is essential, hands are waved in the air and there is much “nah nah nah nah-ing” conducted by an ebullient Gerry. There’s even time to throw in a few barbs at Donald Trump in the rousing song ‘Reservation’.

Terry and Gerry

The Nightingales have been being The Nightingales for nearly four decades, there is no other band like them and no, we’re certainly not going to compare them to another long serving indie rabble popular with John Peel back in the day. Such comparisons are pointless. The Nightingales, driven by the almost aggressive laconicism of lyricist and vocalist Robert Lloyd, are one of the most underrated bands ever. The suits may be a little sharper, indeed shinier, but the relentless musical juggernaut of The ‘Gales is as raw, potent and confrontational as ever.

The Nightingales

Ambling on stage with little fanfare, the intro music is actually stopped too early and Robert asks for it continue a little longer, a few musical tweaks and boom. The band launch into a piledriver set so tight and complex it’s actually quite frightening. Performed with an impossible precision that would normally be the preserve of finely tuned industrial machinery. The only break was when some drunken idiot interrupted ‘Only My Opinion’, but he was witheringly dealt with by Lloyd and the audience picked up the song. Nice moment.

The Nightingales

The relentless Beefheartian off-kilter mayhem is astonishing as, without a pausing for a moment, one song becomes another in a seamless heartbeat. It’s a violent cabaret of noise as James Smith’s fingers move outlandishly across his guitar, the drums of Fliss Kitson pound epileptically and Andreas Schmid’s bass all move in cacophonic rock and roll perfection. We have never seen a band this tightly wound and nor have you. Riding the noise is Robert Lloyd; prowling the stage, sometimes casting a baleful eye outwards, is that a wink we saw? Sometimes crouching next to the drums, but always the ringmaster. Every lyric in every song is loaded with a beautifully askew potency. Lloyd might just be the poet laureate of the apocalypse. For 45 minutes The ‘Gales rip through a set including classics such as ‘The Dishwasher Kid’, ‘Alligator’ and ‘The Part of The Anchor’. Then instant power down and they’re off. No encores, The Nightingales are far too interesting for such needless frippery. As Ted Chippington might say, “and that’s the end of that bit’.

The Nightingales

Photographs by Phil Drury

“Reviewer, previewer and writer of just about anything. Can usually be found with my eyeballs plugged into sleazy 70’s exploitation cinema or riding an antique bike around Harborne. I have no issue with being bought pints or accepting bribes of any sort.”

You may also like...

Giles Logan

"Reviewer, previewer and writer of just about anything. Can usually be found with my eyeballs plugged into sleazy 70’s exploitation cinema or riding an antique bike around Harborne. I have no issue with being bought pints or accepting bribes of any sort."

We think you'll like...