Home > Reviews > Live Reviews > 27/11/2011 | Bellowhead – The Regal, Oxford

27/11/2011 | Bellowhead – The Regal, Oxford

Jo Cox


It seems as if little has changed for Bellowhead as they return to The Regal a year to the month since their last performance here, touring with the same album and an almost identical set list. It’s tempting to use this as a criticism but in all honesty, when you know they’ve found a formula that’s working and selling out venues, that would be wholly unfair.

You also have to give them credit that the furious run of festival appearances they made over the Summer doesn’t seem to have made any dent in their enthusiasm or ability to give the audience a good time, although it might easily have. If anything it has served to make their sound tighter. As ever there’s a fair mix of tracks from the Hedonism album (almost the entire thing) and older favourites from Matachin and Burlesque including Whiskey Is The Life Of Man, London Town, Sloe Gin and Jordan which are at the heart of Bellowhead’s award winning live performances. Haul Away is also included and remains a personal highlight, my own enthusiasm matched by the throngs of jigging revelers.

I have been a little misleading however because this isn’t exactly the same gig as last year – they’re pushing a brand new Hedonism live DVD, recorded at Bournemouth’s O2 Academy back in May, as well as the album. They’re also starting to roll out some new tracks – Betsy Baker, 10000 Miles and UNMC, although it’s here that they seem to come unstuck. If I were to find any genuine criticism of the set it’s entirely limited to these three new offerings, which fall flat by comparison to pretty much everything else from their back catalogue. At one point it even seems they’ve had to kill the lights purely to mark the end of a song, as a vast cacophony of instruments come to a somewhat messy juncture that no one quite knew how else to end. Disappointing to say the least.

Nevertheless, whatever happens with their new material there’s no arguing Bellowhead are a tour de force in the live arena. Whether or not future releases have the same kind of appeal as achieved previously, I can’t see anyone toppling them from their throne too soon.


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