Dodgy and Skewwhiff at The Artrix, Bromsgrove 12.01.12

One of the premier venues in the two counties has to be the superbly-appointed Artrix Theatre in Bromsgrove - which sadly usually features tribute and cover acts on its live music diary, along with a host of miscellaneous happenings like the stopover for the Science Museum Roadshow! So it's been a while since I've seen a 'proper' gig a this A1 location - but this was all rectified as I travelled up the A38 with the rest of the SLAP magazine crowd for our slightly-belated New Year Bash.

The place was probably about two-thirds full as Skewwhiff opened up the evening as support act. Now, I have to say that this was an incredibly nervy set from an outfit with great numbers like Club International, Prince Harold and Noah under their belt. I think that maybe this was a great opportunity missed to sell themselves to a completely new audience (who'd mostly turned up for the main act) and it's really important to start off a set with a 'We're xxxxx and we're from yyyyy - hope you enjoy our music' - and keep that repartee going. If you've got a motormouth in your band - just let him/her rip between numbers!

No such problems with the main act of Dodgy. Frontman Nigel Clark knows all the ins-and-outs of crowd interaction and is a completely natural showman - and also a great survivor of some spectacular peaks and troughs in recent years. This sell-out gig hopefully points to some good times to come for the home-grown songster and a shift forward with new album Stand Upright In A Cool Place. A double set thrown in tonight with a full playing of the new album in the first half with the Malvern-themed Ragged Stone Hill being my own highlight. The second set featured old favourite Staying Out For The Summer and the brilliant Problem With Willie Nelson - but no Good Enough - they're moving on folks!

Andy O'Hare

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