Kill it Kid + Circus Town + John J Presley @ Hare & Hounds, 13th July 2011


Murdoch’s shafted BSkyB bid hubris is a joy to behold and the Parliamentary select committee have reason to believe that Plod’s comedic selective recall is little short of bollocks. Now then, where’s that Red Top witch hiding? There’s a humid moody bad full moon rising over Kings Heath High Street and the Weatherspoons’ bus-shelter’s already heaving with grunting couples: it’s their gesture towards protected sex and goes down well with the clientele – as do the clientele.


Meanwhile, The Hare’s already getting decidedly fug/sweaty swampy which is perfect for opening band John J. Presley. An intriguing line-up dynamic where the absence of a bassist is amply compensated by Danielle Perry’s intense interrogation of a Fender Rhodes compressed through a VOX combo amp with a chip on its shoulder and aspirations to being a harmonium. Other bass-lines are complimented by Mr. Presley who evokes more agonised mojo angst from his long suffering open-tuned guitar than is strictly fair. You like your Black Keys/White Stripes stripped down razor-bladed fret-board intensity with dick-caught-in-a-mangle vocals? Partial to some swamp/grind psyche-tonal dronal dirge antagonised with drum-beats driven by an octopus (nee Richard Franklin) in league with Satan?


Somehow, the demure Toni Woodward weaves her mellow cello magic into ‘On A Sunday’ with its mantric tribal repetitive riff that teases out references to Canned Heat’s ‘On The Road Again’. I’ll go further. Presley and the others that follow, have worthy antecedents with the likes of The Fugs, Edgar Broughton, Pink Faries and The Pixies. ‘Louis McGhee’ sees Presley’s ever changing tuning structures slide-guitar resonate with Ms. Woodward’s pressure-cooker contained cello tremor as the slow-tempo beat click-clacks like a Rocky Mountain climbing smoke-stack belching locomotive. Climactic moments of intense, even punishing minimalist distorted dystopian rage closed the set with ‘Tongue Against My Teeth’. But with all this Presley conveys an aching, Byronic grandeur. Odd that.

Setlist: Folk Devil, Promises, On A Sunday, Louis McGhee, Shadow Of Love, Spit It Out, Tongue Against My Teeth.


Circus Town, like naughty boys scrabbling around their uncle’s garden shed and discovering, apart from the mags of course, a shelf of rusting tins of liquids bearing yellow on black skull and crossbones, have concocted a device of highly volatile bad to the bone rock toxicity. No affectations here, it’s what Brum does best: chugging stomp riffs ear-bled blended from molten girders and Sauron’s skid-marks. Visceral, agonised vocals from guitarist Gavin Morris suggests that his artistic solitary-confinement was once pierced by the howling of his hound-dawg being rodgered by the crooked warden. It never stops. The honey monster big bass man, Paul Cooper delivers no-prisoners pile-driving riffs that drummer, Andy Gibney, laughingly compliments with tree-trunk colliding mayhem. ‘Heart Attack’ is worthy of mention because of its more melodic catchy chorus of ‘shake ‘em all down.’


A sneaky one that catches up on you.’Crawl’ has the engaging sleaze of a spliff-fazed dragon hawking-up sulfurous phlegm. Closer, ‘Take What You Want & Get Out’, was, frankly, Godzilla plucking pylon cables pissed on paint-stripper. Wonderful stuff and top geezers as well.

Setlist: Intro/Beg, Tired, Shake, You, No Good, Heart Attacks, Crawl, Take What You Want & Get Out Of Here.

It’s most unusual when you hear both local support bands name-checking the out of Town headliners before, during and after their set. And deservedly so for many astonishing reasons not least the stunning vocals from singer/guitarist Chris Turpin, who for so slender a frame could rattle pocket change in the back row of many a stadium. I was racking my brains who he reminded me of…ping! Scott Matthews. There’s a fierce, driven intelligence and a singular focused mission with Kill it Kid’s take on Americana, Blues, Grunge and some unashamedly polished Prog Rock.


They look the part as well with Steph Ward’s keyboard swirls and flourishes shrewdly stage-craft accentuated by her dazzling long blond head-flicks. Her vocals are a prominent compliment to Chris Turpin’s stratospheric flights. The songs are finely structured, concise and, in no way derogatory, quite short. ‘Your In My Blood’ initially featured a very stroppy kick-drum mic that hissed like a snake with a rocket up its arse but the band played on. ‘Pray On Me’ was booming big and would guarantee a middle America college tour from the opening bars alone. Rich and lyrical, forgivable, no, with celebratory bombast and textured dynamics, again, it doesn’t overstay its welcome. Snappy, tight and on the leash. There’s strange backing samples during ‘Wild And Wasted Waters’ could be Blind Willie McTell having checked out the bands eclectic and praiseworthy influencial archive. Some deliciously counterpoint time-signature exchanges had me draw the conclusion that they were flying by the seat of their pants in a turbulence bouncing Jefferson Airplane ride. With arm-pits close to minging the joyful punters insisted on and were treated to two encore songs.


This really is a band we need to take notice of not just because they’re steeped in an influential wealth of inspiration and can write songs of grandeur, imagination and craftsmanship. They’re clearly excellent musicians, embrace their punters with mutual excitement but mostly it’s…well, can you see yourself wallowing in a Bo-Diddly/Juicy Lucy mongrel bastard hog-fest swamp of Rock god decadence living in Bath, Somerset? Thought not. xxx to Danielle & Birmingham Promoters.

Setlist: Heart Rested With You, Sweetness, You’re In My Blood, Pray On Me, Wild & Wasted Waters, Dirty Waters, Feet Fall Heavy, Send Me and Angel Down, Heaven.

Review – John Kennedy
Photos – Ian Dunn

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