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Hothouse Flowers

De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill - 17th November, 2018

Written By Andy Gunton

  • Photograph by Sara-Louise Bowrey

  • Photograph by Sara-Louise Bowrey

  • Photograph by Sara-Louise Bowrey

Blooming good entertainment.

I must admit to not knowing a great deal about Hothouse Flowers when I saw them at the De La Warr Pavilion, in Bexhill, on Saturday evening.

That's apart from vividly remembering their big hit single from 1988, 'Don't Go', still a great song by the way.

I'll also admit to not realising that the band were still going after all these years. Apparently they did have a bit of a hiatus in the mid 1990's, but have been back touring and recording since then.

So I approached the gig with a sense of mild trepidation, and intrigue. But sometimes it is good to go into a gig 'cold'.

It was apparent from the minute that they took to the stage for their two hour set that this was a band that likes to enjoy themselves, and one that knows exactly how to acheive that too.

The five piece band are all classy musicians, who obviously love playing together, something that really came across during the gig.

Led from the front by singer/pianist/guitarist Liam O' Maonlai, who has an almost Jim Morrison look about him, Hothouse Flowers were quickly into their stride, playing a mixture of original songs, traditional Irish tunes, and a cover of Johnny Nash's 1972 hit 'I Can See Clearly Now' to complete the mix.

It was nice to see the band using slightly different instruments to the norm, with a double bass being played throughout, and also an electric Bouzouki, something I don't think I've seen before.

Hothouse Flowers are well known for never playing the same gig twice, something they take pride in, and that was apparent from early on.

The band's new album 'Lets Do This Thing' was recorded off the cuff in the studio, and they seem to approach their live shows in a similar fashion, with what appear to be jamming sections during the songs.

I must admit that this does on occasion mean, for me at least, that the odd song might outstay its welcome a little, but I suspect I'm in a minority here.

The audience certainly seemed to contain some diehard Hothouse Flowers fans, who were lapping it up, and rightly so.

The songs were interspersed by anecdotes and comments from Liam O' Maonlai, who like most Irishmen seems to be a natural storyteller and raconteur.

The band had already made friends in Bexhill by staying in the town the previous night, and enjoying the hospitality of a few of the local hostelries, and having a great time too by the sounds of it.

Some of those new friends were in the audience which provided some extra entertainment, with a bit of banter going on between them and the band members.

The main set finished, appropriately enough, with an extended version of 'Don't Go', which was played in a almost Calypso fashion.

For the encore the band brought on David Keenan, who was the support act on the night, and very good he was too by the way.

It's a pity there weren't more people there to see him perform, as they certainly missed out on a real emerging talent. Something that has been confirmed to me by subsequently giving his music a listen online.

The first song of the encore was actually a David Keenan song, a nice touch from the band, who were seemingly learning the song as they went along.

David Keenan himself came back on stage wearing a bright green, skin tight, catsuit that wouldn't have seemed out of place in David Bowie's wardrobe back in 1972.

The evening was rounded off with a traditonal Irish song, which seemed rather fitting.

The band were joined on stage by a few of the new friends they'd made in Bexhill, for what can only be described as some enthusiastic drunken dancing, but which was great fun to watch.

An enjoyable evening was had by all.

It's just a pity that there weren't a few more people there to witness it, not that that stopped everyone present having a good time.

That was their loss, not ours.

 

Find Hothouse Flowers at: hothouseflowers.com

Find David Keenan at: davidkeenan.ie

Find out about furture gigs at the De La Warr Pavilion at: dlwp.com/whats-on

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