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The Mill House, Birtley (Jul 2008)

Sunday 20th July

Ninth Line-Up: Lenny (Vocals), Woody (Drums), Chris (Bass), Tom Atkinson (Guitar)

One of the many bands I had heard good things about but never got to see, I finally managed to drag my hooves along to catch Tubesnake perform at this smart, comfortable and incredibly atmospheric pub. With the punters virtually sitting ontop of the band, I wondered how they would handle such an in your face setting.

Opening up with a great version of Bowie classic Suffragette City perked my interest straight away, and Dear Prudence (Banshees) was a real surprise on a night heavily laden with Doors classics. Somewhere between Jim Morrison and Billy Idol, and at times coming across like a prowler waiting to strike his musical victim with the band’s next song, front man Lenny had the small but very appreciative audience in the palm of his hand while pulling out all the rock star poses – including putting his mike stand on the roof. He gave an excellent performance of Morrison’s vocals – especially during Break On Through – and is one of the best Bowie soundalikes I have heard. After a reportedly awesome gig last night when they played for nearly 3 hours, his voice held up well only letting him down once, and I have to say that if tonight was an off one for him then I can’t wait to hear the man in full flow!

Staying with the Bowie theme, Moonage Daydream and Ziggy Stardust were simply STUNNING when treated to this laid back treatment – absolutely outstanding versions. Such a small place for the band to set up in makes it vitally important to establish a real connection with your audience, something Tubesnake achieved with consumate ease during a first set given a subtly intimate approach that worked to perfection – almost like an unplugged session – and included great covers of Lou Reed and The Who.

More Doors classics graced the second set with first rate performances of When The Music’s Over and L.A. Woman beautifully contrasting a reworking of the Beatles’ Eleanor Rigby. Bowie’s Starman was a joy and a totally unexpected cover of Crackerman by Stone Temple Pilots (MORE PLEASE!) totally impressed. Highlight of the night was a version of the Cream classic White Room. Performed with all the panache this monumental track demands, Tubesnake absolutely NAILED this to the wall!

The musicianship of this band is first class, Chris’s bass keeping it all together while the other guys get to show off. Drummer Woody (playing un-mic’d if memory serves me) has a funky jazziness about him that really lent itself to their covers and young guitarist Tom played an ABSOLUTE BLINDER. For such a young guy, he played White Room with all the assuredness of a seasoned old pro – while still making it sound flamboyantly very much his own. With a real edge to his playing that shone through the entire gig, many years from now he will be spoke about as a local legend. One to watch for sure.

The locals certainly like their live music – reflected in the abundant applause after each track. The Rolling Stones’ Sympathy For The Devil and a return to the Doors with a perfect Roadhouse Blues closed out a gig that left me desperately wanting more. Tubesnake thoroughly deserve their reputation as an excellent live band – one you should definitely see. In the words of Mr. Schwarzenegger – “I will be back!”

… Paul Sinclair, posted on Riffsonline website, Jul 2008