The Joiners, Southampton

The Men They Couldn't Hang

Taking a break from a joint jaunt around the UK with Northern Irish punks “Stiff Little Fingers”, British folk punk legends The Men They Couldn’t Hang stop off for a intimate headline gig at the prestigious Joiners in Southampton. The band have played here many times before and it is usually a energetic and riotous affair.

Tonight’s crowd is full of the bands friends, family, and the band’s most loyal fans who just know they are in for a great evening of entertainment. The band have been around in since forming in 1984, and performing their controversial politically charged The Clash meet Cash style of high energy folk music. In 2014 the band will celebrate their 30th Anniversary and rumour has it that a large musical celebrations are planned. During the current “Stiff Little Fingers” tour the band have been going down a storm playing sell out shows including a annual St Patrick’s Day celebration at the Barrowlands Ballroom in Glasgow.

Sean McGowan
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As is usual with virtually all Joiners gigs top class support acts are lined up to make sure the evening starts off really well. The first of these is local lad Sean McGowan who has recently been making a great name for himself in these parts. The young singer songwriter, who is joined by a second guitarist Dean Paul, provides Sean provides some angry passionately delivered lyrics along the lines of a young Billy Bragg, or more recently troubadour Frank Turner. The songs are stories with a underlying message, Sean’s impressive fast pace motor mouth delivery gets his message across well in songs such as “£5:25”, and “Be Counted”. The best is left to last in the form of “This Old Town” a song all about the sights and sounds of Southampton, with the twin acoustic guitars being played at a frantic pace the set ends on a high with plenty of appreciative applause from the well entertained audience.

Bournemouth’s Willowen are up next, and the 3 piece provide a unique blend simple folk tunes with some well crafted songs that seem to hit the mark with the sometimes difficult Southampton crowd. The band comprise of Jonny (Acoustic guitar/Vocals), Jasmine Watkiss (Violin/vocals) and George Fullerton (Cajon/vocals) who have recently released their 3rd EP entitled “Monster”. The uplifting happy songs with well delivered harmonies have been influenced by their beautiful surroundings alongside the surf in Bournemouth. The songs such as the very mad “Monster (In My Paddling Pool)”, and new song “Things” have a distinctive 60’s flower power vibe but with a modern and very appealing twist that really sets them apart from any other bands out there at the moment. The band left the stage after a great set that really impressed the Joiners audience who cheered and clapped as the delighted trio left the stage.

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As show time for The Men They Couldn’t Hang draws nearer the space in the venue seems to get less and less as the people pack themselves in front of the stage for their imminent arrival. The six piece band climbed on to the stage and were given a fantastic welcome almost like a homecoming. The familiar tunes were executed with ease and looking around the room virtually everybody were singing the words to the songs right back at the band, with songs like “Rosettes” and the band’s first sing “The Green Fields Of France” just rolling back the years. An acoustic set with various interchanging duos within the band during the middle of the show threw up a few unexpected gems. Such as “Dusty Fields” from Phil Odgers recent solo album “The Godforsaken Voyage”, along with a nice reworking of the Johnny Cash classic “Folsom Prison Blues” by Stefan Cush. This section of the set ends with Phil Odgers doing a stunning solo acappella version of “Barrat’s Privateers” which for once keeps the rowdy crowd quiet throughout. The Men They Couldn't Hang
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With the whole band back on stage the fun really starts with the invitation of Willowen’s Violinist Jasmine Watkiss to play on a few numbers. Apparently they only met during the sound check earlier in the day and she was taught how to play a couple of songs “Wishing Well”, and the classic “Shirt Of Blue”. Both songs were executed brilliantly adding something extra special to these great songs. A mosh pit in the centre of the dance floor erupted a possibly the band’s most popular song “Ironmasters” which was delivered with the same skill and enthusiasm as it was back in the 1980’s.

The band toasted the audience with a couple of shots of the musician’s choice, Jagermeister, and tried to leave the stage, this of course was not going to happen as the excited audience wanted more. The unmistakable bass line of The Clash’s “Bankrobber” signalled the start of a sweet two song encore which also included yet another a great sing-a-long in the form of “Walkin’ Talkin”. A packed Joiners Arms all agreed that this was yet another top quality night with a band that delivered in a big way who hopefully will continue this new momentum along to some outdoor Festivals in the summer…..if the summer ever arrives!!

The Men They Couldn’t Hang
The Ghost Of Cable Street
Devil In The Wind
Greenback Dollar
The Green Fields Of France (No Man’s Land)
Going Back to Coventry
Industrial Town
Dusty Fields (Phil Odgers acoustic)
Folsom Prison Blues (Stefan Cush acoustic)
Barrat’s Privateers (Phil Odgers Solo acapplla)
Wishing Well (with Jasmine Watkiss)
Shirt Of Blue (with Jasmine Watkisson)
Night To Remember (with Johnny Hodges on Drums)
The Colours
Iron Masters
Bankrobber (The Clash)
Walkin’ Talkin’

My Life’s Mine
Drowsie Maggie
Monster(In My Paddling pool)
The Story
You Said Hush
Dan’s House

Sean McGowan
Be Counted
Never Let Us In
This Old Town



Review, Pictures & Videos By Dave Chinery (Chinners)