A great night with an outstanding frontman

Talented: Phil Fowler
Talented: Phil Fowler


Square Chapel, Halifax

Songs of melancholia, irony and humour’ we were told and they weren’t wrong.

From their fusion in 1982 as The Bland Brothers, Joe Hirst’s words and Phil Fowler’s tunes began their journey to now, with Phil fronting an impressive mix of musicians, some classically trained and occupied, for a witty, enchanting, yet saddish evening of ‘blank song’ as opposed to blank verse, set to counter melodies and rhythms of music and vocality.

Phil, his face an empty canvas, instantly shifting with sad, questioning expressions and gestures, looked, in his black suit, like an under-employed undertaker, lost on his way to the cemetery!

Meandering bravely through the injustices of life on the fringes, with numbers such as Poppa’s Stoned on the Chemicals Again and I’m Lonely for Every Women I’ve Ever Known, we traversed the rock-face of finality whilst trying not to look down into the valley of the dispossessed.

With strings, 2 violins, 1 viola and 1 cello, providing an appropriately mournful accompaniment in a rich demi-blend of discordant semi-tones, we re-visited our memories of a worn-out, frayed existence, fumbling our way “through the motions of a Saturday night” (Last Waltz).

Even the attendance was sad in number, the heat of the night chasing a missing audience onto their floodlit patios: they missed an outstanding presentation of real life on the edge of expectation, a world undiscovered by politicians of every shade.

Great fun with an outstanding local music man!

Derek Greenwood