The Broken Family Band
Klondyke Snooker and Bowls Club
"Good evening Levenshulme!" barks Steve Adams to the eager crowd. "I've waited 32 years to say that..."
For the Broken Family Band do not find themselves in your average tour venue tonight. The Klondyke Snooker and Bowls Club is as difficult to find as it is to remember the precise spelling and word order, tucked away as it is several miles out of the central Manchester in one of the more vibrant local suburbs. It has a "no swearing" rule. It is a snooker and bowls club for Christ's sake.
"It's been a long time since we played somewhere really weird," beams Adams, "but it's great to be properly, properly back!"
And it's great to have them back too for this nicotine tinged function room is heaving tonight. The supporting bands managed to get people in, sitting down, but the Broken Family Band got them erect (or at least semi) and jigging for the entirety of their 75 minutes on stage. It's a mark of the experience behind this band that they can pluck songs from throughout their career and play on demand. If there is a set list, it's not apparent and wouldn't be an accurate souvenir of the evening. They jump from album to album, but sticking to the themes the crowd know and love them for - booze, women, and a cocked snook to their ordinarily pious genre. If anyone's come wondering if Adams truly is as Christ-kissing as the band's album of 2004, 'Jesus Songs' suggests, they will have that query answered pretty quickly. The "no swearing" rule doesn't take long to be breached with mischievous glee.
Adams is a joy to watch on stage. He has the quick wit required to hold a crowd between songs and it's not as if he's peddling trusted material in these intervals, judging by bassist Gavin's frequent spluttering at Adams' wry asides. They capture that feeling that frankly isn't seen as often as you'd think - a band very clearly enjoying themselves on stage. Their humour won't be for everyone mind - they are not above the humble nob gag or breast reference. During the night Adams continually updates us on the supposed flaccidity or otherwise of his Little Adams and alters lyrics and meanings behind songs that sometimes has him laughing more on stage than would allow him to continue singing. But even if you're not always sure why he's in fits, laughter is contagious and the room lapped up this vibe.
So why aren't the Broken Family Band bigger than a snooker and bowls club when it comes to a gig in the North West (and bear in mind that this gig was originally to have been held at the altogether smaller, but equally nicotine-stained, Star & Garter)? It's always the awkward prerogative of a fan to simultaneously want to keep 'their' band relatively unknown and available to them, and yet want to tell the whole world how great they are. To some extent though it's of the band's own doing; the guitarist, Jay and Steve share a joke about how they refused to play the G-Mex on principle - and it's perhaps best to only wish for a band the success that they themselves seek. One thing's for sure though there's bigger things on the cards yet for this band if they want it, to use an old saying 'bigger & better', but will they be better?