1865, Southampton

Ferocious Dog

It is not that difficult to work out why Ferocious Dog are rapidly growing in popularity. Let’s face it, there are hundreds of great bands out there, why chose to go and see them for your night’s entertainment? Well, there are plenty of reasons, they are a very honest band who wear their political hearts on their sleeves; they write/perform some great relevant songs and most of all, they care about social issues with a passion. Whatever political view you have there are many things that this band do as a collective that really make a difference. Tonight the band arrive in Southampton as part of their “Enemy Within” tour and this time they have stepped up to a larger venue, and by the look of tonight’s crowd they have drawn very close to capacity.

The first of two support acts arrive on stage to a warm welcome from the Southampton crowd. You could be easily mistaken in thinking its Gaz Brookfield on stage but no, it’s his brother from another mother, Nick Parker, and Gaz’s onstage side-kick fiddle player Ben Wain. Once identities have been confirmed Nick gets on and does what he does best, he tells stories within songs about personal experiences and social commentary. The songs are sometimes hilarious stories that the audience can all relate to. “Down with the Youth” is all about the kids getting embarrassed with a Dad (like me) who tries to be cool and fails while “Departures” is about the observations made in an airport lounge. Nick entertains with ease and as most of the audience already know much of his material, a sing-a-long starts. Nick then brings out his teenage daughter “Flo” to join him on a beautiful duet of “Guess I’ll Never Know”, which is a song about seeing someone on a bus who you quite like to get to know and they get off at the next stop. The set ends with the brilliant “Terry & June”; a lovely infectious heart-warming tune where Ben and Nick are joined by Ferocious Dog’s John Leonard on banjo, ending what was a fantastic opening set.

Nick Parker
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Next up are Bournemouth’s Black Water County; a six-piece band that bring a powerful mix of punk and folk music together, to create a highly energetic and danceable live experience. The band waste no time in whipping up a storm, kicking off with “Start Something New” from their debut album “Taking Chances”. The band use an eclectic mix of instruments to create a big sound; with some beautiful melodic fiddle, coupled with mandolin, tin whistle, electric guitars, bass, melodica and nicely delivered creative drumming. The music is backed with some great vocal melodies lead by Tim, with the rest of the band all providing some perfectly executed additional harmonious voices.

There are plenty of highlights as the band keep a very high momentum throughout the whole of their set, with some substantial tunes including the beautifully sung “Memories from Another Life” and the great new tune called “Who Am I’. The band really get the crowd moving with their hefty drinking song “One More Beer” before going out on a high with the fast-paced banjo-led “Under Skies of Black and Blue” that leave the crowd wanting more. Black Water County is one of those bands that each time you see them, they just seem to get better and better; everything seems so much tighter and better than before. Their name is steadily starting to spread across the length and breadth of the UK and beyond. With a European Tour in the pipeline and a host of summer festivals ahead, the future is looking very bright for this talented young band.

Black Water County
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Tonight is like Christmas Eve for Ferocious Dog as it is most certainly the warm-up gig for their hometown “sold out” festival in Nottingham at the prestigious Rock City. The band are noticeably quite excited and as the epic tune of opening number “Gallows Justice” kicks in, the whole of the 1865 dancefloor erupts with a mass of dancing feet. The audience ranges from 7year old children to folks in their 70’s with the mass appeal of the music being a great leveller, bringing everybody together. The band have a plethora of new songs from their latest album “Red” with tunes like the hard-hitting “Black Leg Miner” and “Small Town Hero” featuring the talented John Leonard on the Irish uilleann pipes.

Ferocious Dog
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Frontman Ken Bonsall tonight is wearing a huge grin knowing that the message and all the hard work that the band have put in is finally paying off. The bigger the audience the more the good work spreads, and I’m sure Ken’s late son Lee would be very proud of what his Father has achieved. The audience is treated to a nice version of a rarely played track “Mairi’s Wedding, Pt. 3” with Dan Booth featuring on lead vocals and “A Place I Wanna Be” featuring former Carter USM member Les Carter on vocals giving Ken a well-earned break from singing. “Hell Hounds” is dedicated to everyone in the audience and the whole band wholeheartedly thank the audience for their loyal and continued support. The evening ends with the epic “Slow Motion Suicide”, a song that features the story of an out of work miner in 1980’s Thatcher’s Britain who takes to alcohol to take away the pain; he loses his wife, his self-respect and is slowly drink by drink losing his life. The story is told in a very atmospheric way and through the music, you can almost feel the pain and suffering of this poor chap when Dan Booth lets rip with the most fantastic piece of melodic fiddle that you will ever hear. With this ringing in our ears, the band leave the stage from what was the most triumphant of nights that will live long in the memory of all who attended, especially the young school girl brought up on stage by the band at the end.

Set Lists
Ferocious Dog
Gallows Justice
Black Leg Miner
Ruby Bridges
Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya
Class War
The Glass
Crime and Punishment
Small Town Hero
Together We Are Strong
Quiet Paddy
Mairi’s Wedding, Pt. 3
A Place I Wanna Be (Les Carter Vocals)
Enemy Within
Hell Hounds
Mairi’s Wedding, Pt. 2
Black Gold
Slow Motion Suicide

Black Water Country
Start Something New
Painful Truth
Way Down Low
Rise & Fall
Memories from Another Life
Rambling Johnny
Who Am I now
No Regrets
One More Beer
Under Skies of Black and Blue

Nick Parker
Make Yourself at Home
Down With The Yoof
Es Tut Mir Leid
Guess I’ll Never Know (Featuring Daughter Jess)
Terry & June (Featuring John Leonard)



Words & Videos by Dave Chinery (Chinners)
Pictures & apres gig sandwiches by Jon “Root Canal” Musselwhite

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