The Destroyers @ Birmingham Town Hall – 11th March 2009


Tonight’s gig at the Town Hall, billed as Curzonora, was the opening night in Birmingham’s Flatpack Festival. Now in its third year, the film festival delivers a mix of rare and interesting films and live events such as tonight’s performance by Birmingham’s own, The Destroyers, providing the music for a series of short films from the early 1900’s.

The films were a celebration of the work of Waller Jeffs, a pioneer of cinema in the early 1900’s, who commissioned films of local events in Birmingham between 1901 and 1912 and would have sell out seasons at Curzon Hall on Suffolk Street. Along side the films of Waller Jeffs were several classic early examples of cinema such as Georges Mellies ‘Trip to the Moon’ from 1902. This film was later copied by the Smashing Pumpkins for their video to ‘Tonight, Tonight’ and it was a real treat to see it on a big screen in a venue like the Town Hall.


The narrator for the evening, Paul Murphy, told the story of Jeffs and provided introductions to the The Destroyers, whom he described as a ‘rabble of a band, who long fled the nest of genre’. For those unfamiliar with The Destroyers it’s a pretty good summary. You can’t really pin them to any set genre but to quote their Myspace, they’re; ‘Eastern European folk music with a gothic turbo charge, ignited by banks of brass, fiddles, accordions and drums’, and with all 15 members in full flow it’s certainly lively. Having seen them perform at last years Moseley Folk Festival, I was looking forward to seeing them again. With so many elements to their music, I would say there’s something for everyone to enjoy.


The audience spanned the generations and showed a unanimous enjoyment of the films which were married with the flexible music of the Destroyers. Performances were met with applause throughout the evening. Having never attended an event such as this myself, I thought that the band, along with a solo vocal performance by Andrea Tjader on ‘My Pent-up Tears’, really blended well with are variety of visual images ranging from The Launch of HMS Albion in 1898 to Workers Leaving the Kynoch Works in 1901 as well as the short films such as ‘The Great Train Robbery’ from 1903. The Town Hall is a great venue for an event like this, a good atmosphere and good sound help to make the evening a memorable one.


All in all, credit must go to the organisers of the Flatpack Festival for putting together the night’s entertainment and to The Destroyers for their performance. I suggest keeping an eye out for The Destroyers as seeing them live is definitely something I would recommend. The Flatpack Festival runs until the 15th May in venues around Birmingham and I would also recommend checking it out at


Review – Chris Thompson
Photos – Betty Haglund

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