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THE HOAX/Virgil & the Accelerators
Dingwalls, London 3 January 2010

The Hoax, photo by Ken Ansted
Photo: Ken Ansted

This was an exceptional gig that made light of the heavy burden of expectation. If The Hoax had any bottled up nerves or doubts after 10 years of being away then they were instantly banished from the moment they hit the stage with power precision and real panache as they leant into the funky 'Twenty Ton Weight'.

Playing with a sheer joy de vivre born of boundless self confidence and the simple enjoyment of playing together again, the band demonstrated just why they are still untouchable.

There have of course been contenders during the interim years but The Hoax once again proved to have that indecipherable edge and an extra quality that makes them one of the outstanding bands of their generation.

The cool juxtaposition of the subtle with the raucous and the reverse sweep from quiet to loud - all overridden by wailing guitars and earthy harp - remains at the core of a unique crossover style that has still to be emulated by anyone in the generic rock/blues field. And perhaps the reason is that the band has always refused to be pigeon holed.

Tonight's set for example, included a handful of carefully chosen covers, including a tough reading of Lennon and McCartney's 'Come Together', an inspired harp-led shuffle 'Automatic' by The Red Devils and the final frisson busting 'Superstition'.

The Hoax, photo by Ken Ansted
Photo: Ken Ansted

In between these occasional bouts of interpretive skill there were additional self penned magical moments, no more so than Hugh Coltman's evocative vocal phrasing on the extended slow blues 'Don't Shake My Hand'.

Then there was the undulating swing, heavy duty groove and biting lyrics of 'Feeding Time' on which first Jon Amor and then Jesse Davey teased out their respective tones, with Hugh adding the perfect harp led finish. And still there was more as Jesse sought out more awesome tones on the pile driving shuffle 'Fistful of Dirt' before the band's show stopping guitar interplay on 'Bones', on which Jon Amor and Jesse Davy somehow managed to play each others guitar simultaneously in spite of impossible size differentials.

The Hoax, photo by Ken Ansted
Photo: Ken Ansted

But such memorable moments aside it was the balance of the set that impressed most. Mark Barrett on drums and bassist Robin Davey provided real drive when required and hung back intuitively when the band dug deep for their blues, as the duo glued everything together with an understated fluency. The spine tingling solos provided the extra dynamic flourishes and tonal nuances.

The Hoax, photo by Ken Ansted
Photo: Ken Ansted

Quite simply this is a band that broke the mould ten years ago when they quit. But on the evidence of this show they are still hungry enough, still young enough and still have a big enough following to potentially propel them to still greater things.

Earlier the impossible young Virgil & the Accelerators showed real passion, drive and no mean ability in a power trio setting that augurs well for the future of the rock/blues format.


Review by Pete Feenstra

Photos by Ken Ansted

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