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Concert Review by Nick Morgan
CHICKEN LEGS WEAVER The 100 Club, London, January 17th 2008
Chicken Legs Weaver
What happens to musicians in early January Serge? Are they like the rest of us, sitting at home nursing colds and coughs, and falling foul of the occasional bout of projectile vomiting? Or are they out at the sales, arm to elbow with crazed-eyed bargain hunters, greedily seeking out half-priced stage outfits? Or are they somewhere in the sun, luxuriating in mountainside villas, servants and their ‘people’ at their every beck and call? Well, either way they are certainly not in London, which as ever is cold, miserable, and devoid of gigs. Actually we were supposed to see Tony MacPhee’s Groundhogs a week or so ago but succumbed instead to a short and very sharp dose of the Norwalk virus which I wouldn’t want to share with even the dodgiest regular at the 100 Club. So it’s now the 17th January and we’re here to see the unfortunately-named Chicken Legs Weaver, who only came to our attention through one of those wonderful moments when you chance upon something on the digital wireless that just stops you in your tracks. On this occasion I think it was ‘Paper Houses’, from their debut 2006 Johnny Dowd produced album, Nowhere.
How would I describe them – well, I jotted in my notebook, “fuzz box-fuelled Sheffield swamp gothic”. It’s raw-edged steely blues from Yorkshire’s musical city of the moment – as uncompromising and uncomplicated as you would expect from the county of the White Rose. Band leader Andy Weaver (whose uneven gait apparently inspired the band’s name) plays a blistering slide guitar – he’s using three or four pedals, but whatever the combination the result is an ear-numbing yet visceral wall of sound (‘though his thumb and finger playing is far more complex than you might give it credit for). The guitar matches his unlikely voice. It sounds like a Marlboro Red 40-a-day man’s blues growl – some say Tom Waits style, but it lacks the subtlety for that – what you hear is what you get. On bass guitar is the relatively recent recruit (the band have been playing for over ten years) the very solid Jane Howden (“Jean Jacques Burnel in female form” wrote another reviewer), who joined shortly after Nowhere was recorded.

And on drums is the man who almost stole the show – ex Comsat Angel Mik Glaisher. He’s a big guy – looks like a cross between Lyle Lovett and Tommy Cooper with a face etched with anxiety – until he starts playing. As befits his size his drumming is huge – it is, if you will, lead drumming as opposed to rhythm drumming, filling in powerfully behind (no, in front of) Weaver’s guitar. The result is enthralling.

Chicken Legs
Just a shame then that instead of being cooped up thigh to thigh in the 100 Club, drumsticks flying over our heads, it’s such a paltry crowd – I might be inclined to put this down to promoters, the rather bantam-weight Alien Jazz Party, who at best seem to be winging it. I hope they haven’t put all their eggs in one basket, because if they have, I fear things may be coming home to roost …[Enough! Ed.]

Ok. Well, the only really disappointing thing about the evening was that we weren’t able to pick up a copy of the band’s new album, Silk Ripped Dress, which has sort of just been released, and features Whiskyfun favourite Richard Hawley on the track ‘Monday Man’. It’s a sign of the difficulty CLW seem to have in getting broader exposure (I read somewhere that major labels thought they were “too old” to sign) is a record company with apparently little or no distribution and a very out of date website – and they don’t even show up to gigs with CDs to sell. But you will be able to hear them on the BBC’s Mark Lamarr show on 16th February. We heard some of the new stuff – including the impressive opener ‘John the Revelator’ (shades of Ian Siegal) and ‘Before the fall’ in addition to ‘Paper houses’, ‘Your enemy cannot harm you’, Howling road’’, ‘Zombified’, and ‘Stump Jon and the owl’ among others from Nowhere. All very good indeed – and I suppose the resultant twenty four hours of partial deafness was partly a consequence of having over a month off. Blimey! Anyway – you know how it goes – if you like your blues deep and dirty with a dose of menace, then give these guys a listen, go and see them, and buy their albums (if you can ever find them).
- Nick Morgan (photographs by Kate and Nick's iPhone)

Kate's Chicken Legs Weaver photo album Kate's photographs

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