18/11/2010 | Bellowhead – The Regal, Oxford

Jo Cox

Bellowhead’s set seems to come around full circle at the Regal tonight as they romp up the country from Yarmouth Town to London Town on their aptly named Hedonism tour. Aptly named not just in relation to their recently released third album but also because lyrically there is no small amount of drinking, prostitution and casual sex in which to indulge. Add to that the thousand pints of specially brewed ale that’s been ordered in and the fact that the venue is packed to the rafters with revellers and hedonism seems to be a pretty fair entitlement.

Don’t be fooled that Bellowhead are in any way predictable though, because musically they’re far from it. A Begging I Will Go with its dark brass riffs wouldn’t be out of place in a James Bond soundtrack and coupled with the dramatic bugle call of Broomfield Hill they showcase a sound which is rich, diverse and exciting. That being said, it is without doubt the upbeat romps which capture the audience and even the bouncer at stage left is tapping his foot by the time the band glide into the Hand Weaver And The Factory Maid. Though halfway through there is a downbeat interlude, as they move on from Amsterdam they quickly pick up the pace and grant Haul Away to a smitten crowd.

A sampler of old tracks from Burlesque and Matachin including Whiskey Is The Life Of Man generate a sea of bobbing heads at the front and even some enthusiastic jigging in scarce pockets of space at the back. On reflection it’s evident how consistently brilliant this band have been for the past six years and as they round off the evening with Sloe Gin, New York Girls and London Town I can find little to fault. Whilst I’m less enthused about some of the Hedonism tracks (Little Sally Racket for example), they deliver time and time again with their careful and intricate instrumentation, exciting lyrics and enthralling stage presence.

www.bellowhead.co.uk