The Strange Boys @ The Garage, Islington, 02/04/2012

I don't know if this band brought their own music vibes with them, but a background introduction from ZZ certainly gets me in the mood for some Southern hospitality. I'm not disappointed.

Strange Boys start with a slow juke-joint beat with “The Banker of Me and You” – a well known and celebrated tune of theirs. It bounces like a covered wagon riding the range and confirms itself as a "why the fuck wasn't it a hit" of the first order. From there they go into a harmonica led track that inevitably leads comparison to Dylan, but Dylan at his most ‘Churchified’. “Doueh” next announces itself as a swing version of Sound and Vision, just aching for a fiddle solo.

After a while they begin rockin' and taking their crowd of devotees with them – Ryan leaves the piano for guitar on a Southern fried song of Little Feat quality with an anthemic chorus. He returns for a bit that Elton would be proud of; if The Black Crowes had gone down country roads it might sound like this. At this point in the gig they’re more like Dylan testifyin', and as good as The Band at bringing it on home.

A slow boogie gives into a sing along chorus and we just need sawdust on the floor to be fully transported to a bar on a lonesome highway. It's hard to pick out highlights of the gig, as it's a good time throughout - hard to imagine this band not being "intimate" no matter the venue.

Although it builds gently, the set is more about consistent motion. The piano has been drinking and the band hit the heights they have thus far promised with a transcendent catalyst that has the set take flight. Ryan is charming though I understand few of words slipping out of his mush mouth. If there is a criticism to be made it's that the band are too static and visually uninteresting, but with eyes closed the wash of a Ray Charles style  newbie and Doors boogie with whistling like Percy Edwards played blues, it don't matter none, Son.

- Martin Brimicombe

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