Thursday, 16 August 2012

Inside The Devils Arse

I spent Saturday in the Devils Arse. No I'm not lying, the Devils Arse is what Peak Cavern, near Castleton in the Peak District, is more fondly known as.

Unbeknown to me until recently The Devils Arse holds summer concerts and even candle lit ghost tours of the cavern (I want to go on one of these now!). Saturday night saw the cavern hosting the former, and it was definitely an experience, after all, how many people can say they've been to a gig in a cave? It was most certainly unusual, and very definitely highly recommended, not just for the novelty factor.

The gig was held in the large entrance cavern, where rope makers used to live and produce ropes. It's a large cavern with a gouge to one side where a stream has cut through the limestone over centuries. We arrived part way through the first band (having had a bite to eat at The Nags Head first) who I really enjoyed. It was a bit different to see a drummer who was also the lead singer. In addition to the normal drums and guitars they also employed a tambourine for additional beat. Their music was lovely, perfect for a sedate summers evening gig in a cave. It was a bit jiggy (which I like) and the group worked well together, engaging the crowd and generally giving a good all round performance. I would certainly see them again.

I was less impressed with the second band. They weren't bad it's just didn't do it for me. For starters, it was very much about the singer. The first song of the set was a solo so his three band members waited patiently on the side lines. then they came on stage to perform, very much in the background, before being relegated once more to the sidelines so the singer could show off his voice with a little backing from hos guitar. It's not that his voice was bad either. It was rather high pitched, but was generally ok. There were a few times were I would describe it as 'haunting' and it began to draw me in. I remember thinking several times 'here we go, this is it' either because of his voice, or because the guitars kicked in and what were all slow songs showed a promise of having a bit more of a beat, but, sadly disappointment always followed. They tried again a little later with the addition of Sheffield singer Jean Walters, but she just looked a bit pouty to Chris, and bored to me. I don't blame her though, she was essentially a guest backing singer; at no point did she sing on her own. I thought they were going to do a duet when the lead singer sang a line, but no, he sang a part, and then they sang a part together. Overall, I got the impression that he was fairly arrogant and full of himself, as the whole set was about him. That's not the point of being in a band.

After some cave exploration it was time for the third act, and the one we had come to see, The Hosts. Chris works with the drummer, Adam, who told us about the gig. The lure of it being in a cave and seeing his band for the first time drew us in immediately. Adam even got us on the guest list!
The hosts worked fantastically well as a band. They just looked natural, like a group of great mates playing some music. The front man and lead singer was really good, not only at shifting the crowds attention to each of the band members, but also in enhancing the crowds experience by drawing us in,  participating in yelling loudly together to listen for the echo. With a full sized drum set the beat throbbed through the stone and packed earth, and the acoustics were amazing. So amazing in fact, that they had to turn down the amps so it wasn't too much! They all looked very smart in suits, their attire defiantly made them stand out. The music was good and included some Roy Orbison covers. It was easy listening, cheerful and very enjoyable. I look forward to seeing them again!

Happy Listening!

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