A very excited SyJay and I drove the 50/60 miles from our house to Evesham last night to see The Dowling Poole. Their 2014 album Bleak Strategies was given to me funnily enough in 2014 and I was hooked instantly. A few weeks or months ago I received a CD copy of their latest effort One Hyde Park and holy fark it’s just as beautifully perfect as its predecessor.
Last night’s gig which took place at the amazing Iron Road bar and venue in Evesham has rocketed up to my ‘top favourite gigs’ list, right up there with The Cardiacs, The Burning Hell & The Lovely Eggs. Given that SyJay had called me up about a week or so ago and said “do you want to come and see the Dowling Poole with me?” (to which the only answer is HELL YES) I had no idea what to expect in terms of venue. It was a wonderfully intimate music space containing within it a wonderful energy, as soon as we walked through the door we knew that people had been having a really great time here for a long time.
As we walked in we caught the band doing their sound check which sounded ‘fine’ but didn’t give us enough to go on with regards to what the rest of the show might sound like. This was their first electric gig with all five band members so I think for everyone it was going to be a bit of a surprise.
We spent a couple of hours convincing locals that they should watch Adventure Time and other children’s TV shows until we had a sense that perhaps the band were coming on stage. SyJay was already euphoric as he had brought with him a 21 year old Jon Poole cassette from a gig way back when and Mr. Poole had kindly signed it.
Out they came in their incredible outfits from the little hideaway room onto the stage, the place was rammed, I was spotting Cardiacs T-shirts and other obscure bands the likes of which I haven’t heard yet, there was an age gap of around 19 years minimum between me and most of the crowd with exception to a young woman in thick rimmed glasses who stood next to me singing and dancing and even almost, conducting every single tune they played.
What followed was a barrage of on-point, incredibly tight, energetic, hooky, catchy, complex tunes, ballads, stories, musicals, punk, rock, concept and everything else you can cram into 3.5 minutes. Who did they sound like? They sounded like The Dowling Poole, yeah there are brief snippets of sound where you might think ‘ooh they sound like this band’ or ‘ooh that reminds me of that outfit from way back when…’ but these genius guys are very much doing their own thing and it’s a thing that you need to hear and not have me describe badly.
I also left the venue with a lot of respect for them all, not only because SyJay had gone off and had a lovely little chat with Mr. Dowling but also because they were genuinely lovely people. They seemed taken aback by the amount of people who were there and seemed even more surprised to hear a lot of the audience members singing along. It was wonderful to see their dynamic and to realise that this is a band who are doing this because they want to, they don’t need this, they’re all well established individuals in the music industry (and rightly so) but this is their fun and that’s what it was. Fun. No one competing for stage presence, no nasty glances from guitarist to guitarist, just wonderful, wonderful fun.
Willie Dowling (Honeycrack, Jackdaw 4) and Jon Poole (Cardiacs, Wildhearts) are an example of how more people in the music world should be. I don’t want to neglect the rest of the band either, Mr. Drummer (I didn’t write down names sorry) considering you only knew that you were the band’s drummer about 10 days ago you were incredible, keep it up. Givvi Flynn and your golden tonsils were wonderful and we at The Shonk sure love a foxy guitarist. Mr bassist (yeah I am feeling lousy about the name thing now) again, without you there would have been a missing crucial element, you laid it down. You all did. The foot stomping might of Rebecca Receives, the powerful crescending title track One Hyde Park or one of my favourites, a manic Britpopian frenzy from the first album ‘Saving it All for a Saturday’ mmmm social commentary! It’s all so addictive and awesome, so listen to it.
So if you love catchy, relevant songs with clever messages and a degree of wonderful British cynicism masked behind an addictively hooky tune that could go anywhere at anytime, check this band out. And if you don’t, why did you read this or come here, go away.
Dowling Poole get 95 points! Out of what, we don’t know….
check ’em out:
P.S – I bought your album on record yesterday to nullify the guilt of having it on a copied CD for over a month, I hope that makes it okay!
Footage of the gig from Funky-Colin studio productions: