Towards the end of last year, just as St James was starting to establish itself as a venue of broader use once again, they held a mid-week event headlined by visiting act Baghdaddies.
Despite being a Wednesday night it proved rather popular and it wasn’t long before a return engagement was announced replicating the previous show but on a Saturday evening, making it much more accommodating for those looking to have a proper party.
It might just because of the comparison to that previous show was in my head but the music seemed to have more danceable beats brought to the fore which pulled people forward naturally as their set went on.
With a real sense of fun between the band on stage becoming infectious, as well as some great songs that I could see being singalong favourites, I think there might be some truth to a statement I heard in the audience last week that they could be on the path to filling the gap left since the break up of The Buffalo Huddleston Band (albeit in their own way).
After something of a break while a couple of members of the band focussed on another project The Recks were back tonight and, it has to be said, their first couple of songs were a bit ‘wobbly’ for wont of a better word and I was worried they were going to be the ones to fall flat tonight.
Thankfully, by the time they hit new track Red Rocking Chair they were back on form and didn’t look back, getting the crowd dancing and singing along to their unique brand of psychedelic indie folk.
This was only my second time seeing the band with new bass player Joe Le Long and, while it’s slightly changed the dynamic with Joe taking on backing vocal duties and stepping forward on stage more than his predecessors, he’s already clearly fit into the band well and as they closed on crowd favourite double whammy of Trainwreck and Valentine you could tell the crowd really wanted more.
It was clear that Baghdaddies made quite an impact on their first visit to the island so as soon as they took to the stage St James was in party mode and stayed there for the best part of an hour and half.
The Geordie five-piece unleashed an almost relentless run of upbeat and danceable tracks merging ska and elements of Balkan folk, that could easily have become a kind of ‘novelty’ proposition but were delivered with such conviction and charm that they didn’t.
Along with that they featured occasional hints at a more subversive and rebellious streak than you might think on a first listen adding something extra to the mix.
With two front men, in the guitarist and saxophonist, bringing different aspects to keep things varied and a sense of fun from all five members that’s unparalleled (the guitarist and bassist had something of Laurel & Hardy to their on stage relationship) it was impossible not to enjoy the performance.
As they got a ‘zombie conga’ going around the hall and then joined in with it themselves the audience became a direct part of the show too.
Ending with a kind of surf/ska hybrid number it wasn’t long before they were back for an encore that ended with them heading back off stage to busk in amongst the people, even taking up place behind the bar at the back of the room bringing the night to a close on a high and with the audience really still wanting more!