Artists billing evenings as a ‘launch party’ often opens as much a debate about what a party is as it can do about the art itself. There’s been countless times when I’ve ended up at celebratory evenings which feel more like a business meeting or a church ceremony than it matches the real reason people turn up to these things; namely to make the artist feel that their effort wasn’t in vain.
Given tonight’s blood, sweat and tears The Whippet Beans clearly know how to host, and get stuck into, a party. Opening up with the popping of numerous party poppers, the Beans spend the evening delivering upbeat, positive, messages within a central blend of Madness’s ‘nutty’ slapstick ska and deeper, but less obvious, social commentary in the style of The Specials.
‘Trippin’, ‘Skip’, ‘Seven foot jockey’ and, opener, ‘Bumbag’ are the highlights of the evening, each given feel good, bass heavy, musical grooves and delivered in an Ian Drury, half singing – half chatting, vocal style. It’s a style which supports the delivery of humorous, ‘Our house’ styled lyrics, combining the obscure (“Sausage rolls and Curly Wurleys) with thoughtful reflections on working-class culture, childhoods and making beauty out of the ordinary.
Combining all elements the Beans end up with a show deeply rooted in their most interesting elements (particularly their ‘The Blockheads’ styled collective humour and band unity) which they use to break down any barriers between themselves and their audience. Most noticeable in the moments of choreographed, full-band, dancing as well as in well thought out opportunities for the playing, and destruction, of handed out cardboard guitars and live rambling, the band look to connect with their audience at all opportunities. Given the sweaty reaction from the audience this works exceptionally well and suggests that the party should have been themed ‘music hall comedy meets wistful memories of youth’. Ten out of ten for intent.