Talking Heads, Southampton
After December’s tour with the mighty Levellers, Ferocious Dog cannot be more popular. They are part way through their own headline “Red Tour” and find themselves selling out venues after gaining themselves a huge momentum with their brand of Punk-infused Celtic Folk. They don’t just sing about causes, they act upon them, supporting many great causes including encouraging fans to bring food/supplies along for local food banks. Also the “Sea Shepherds” supporting marine conservation society and raising awareness of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) with the Lee Bonsall Memorial fund. Tonight the band arrive at the Talking Heads in Southampton and once again have a “Sold Out” crowd to perform in front of.
Tonight’s support is a local chap called Dan O’Farrell who has recently released a rather fine self-titled album with his band “The Difference Engine”. Dan confidently greets the large crowd with a wry smile and a few self-confessed nerves. His talent for songwriting is clear from the start, his tunes are cleverly written and very relevant.
By day he is an English teacher and his training has clearly benefited his songwriting. We are treated to a Shakespeare-inspired tune called “Rosaline Wins”, taken right from one of his “Romeo & Juliet” lessons. “Your Facebook Feed is Not the World” is a clear observation of how seriously people have got addicted to checking their feed every couple of minutes. Dan explained clearly through choice and belief in his own songs that he has never played a cover version and never intends to; and a tune called “I don’t Do Covers” really cemented this, giving huge applause from the respectful audience. With just his acoustic guitar and voice Dan really got the crowd on his side with a host of original tunes that both educated and entertained.
Ferocious Dog finally hit the stage at around 9pm and from the first note that they played the whole place is bouncing along to the infectious fiddle-laden “Gallows Justice”, which sets the pace for the evening ahead. Mohican-haired frontman Ken Bonsall is a modest chap and is very appreciative of his audience. Since the band came to the Talking Heads for the first time there were only around 50 people at the show and now things have hugely escalated with a 200 plus crowd here tonight. The band have had a couple of notable changes to the line-up since their last tour, with John Leonard taking over on banjo/mandolin and Alex Smith on drums. Despite them both only being in the band for 2 months, they seem to have lost none of their chemistry and are still a really tight well-rehearsed unit. Each tune played is injected with so much real enthusiasm and masses of energy and the band really look like they are loving every minute. Guitarist Les “Fruitbat” Carter does not stop smiling throughout the whole show.
The setlist is made up mainly of original tracks from the bands two albums, with a nice reworked version of “Raggle Taggle Gypsy” thrown in for good measure. There is a real unity in this room tonight and the band generate very friendly, positive vibes which radiate toward the good-natured audience creating a lovely atmosphere. By the time we get to the encores there is sweat dripping from the ceiling and some of us older members of the audience are a bit jaded from all the energy that we have all been using up. There is one last chance to dance with the fast-paced “Marikana Massacre” and the brilliant “Slow Motion Suicide”, which features some epic atmospheric fiddle work from the talented Dan Booth. The band bid farewell to the audience and say that they hope to see everyone in a field sometime in the Summer. Ferocious Dog are certainly a band with huge momentum behind them and it’s safe to say that much bigger stages beckon in the very near future.
Poor Angry and Young
Verse for Lee
Crime and Punishment
Raggle Taggle Gypsy
Living on Thin Air
Slow Motion Suicide
Words & Videos by Dave “What’s Lane Control?” Chinery (Chinners)
Pictures By Jon “Unwelcome Lane control observations” Musselwhite