The Wagon and Horses. It's a bar. Just a bar by the river in Lancaster on a Saturday night. Quite crowded for 9pm. You can get a very decent pint of Guinness. Squeezed against the back wall is the entertainment for the evening. Ladies and gentlemen, may we present How's My Pop - a fine confection comprised of Andy Raven, Tom Diffenthal, Chris MacNeil and Matt Canty.
It is immediately obvious that this band are far from beginners at live performance. They have influences stretching all the way back to the Kinks via The Jam and Blur. It is indeed pleasing to note also that lead singer Andy Raven retains his accent and has not sold out to the polished anonymity of the great metropolis down south. There is always room for more quirky pop in the musical landscape of this country in our opinion and we are not disappointed tonight. "All My Friends" cries out to be what they used to call a single. A download just does not have the same romantic connotations. It is the kind of song that you end up humming on the way home and takes us back to the days when musical originality was prized. The band plays confidently with a small fan club contingent to drive them on. They have that infectious energy that only young bands seem to have. Without the commercial pressures, they seem to actually be enjoying themselves tonight.
Ascerbic wit and honesty are on display and are combined with an undoubted ability to write a good song without sticking to a rigidly defined formula. "England on Its Knees" hits us like Screaming Jay Hawkins goes jazz whilst taking a stroll through the decaying remains of England. "Still Waiting for your Call" is one of those songs that needs a good frontman to sell it and this band has that in Andy Raven. Their ability to convert indifference into applause is also evident and by the end of their two part set, they even get calls for an encore. Fortunately, they have saved a crowd pleaser for this very occasion in the form of a dynamite bit of sing along fun called "Grannies Car". Just the sort of thing that would fans of those cheeky chappies Madness go all misty eyed.
Pausing for thought (and another Guinness), Bluesbunny ponders the evening. There are a few things that we have noted about the people of the towns and cities of North West England. They fry everything that they eat. They drink like bastards. And they have a strange compulsion to make everyone feel welcome in their town. We think that How's My Pop could be Lancaster's finest export and that they will be one band that is welcome anywhere.