Fat Henry, The Packhorse, Leeds; 29th August

2014-08-29 20.13.42

Fat Henry have the task of livening up this damp and dreary Friday night. It’s not too busy upstairs in The Packhorse, but these guys are not put off at all. A strong and confident start, slightly proggy and melodic, then kicking into pure punk style vocals with grungy guitars. Nice, sharp percussive stops interspersed with sludgy guitar and a gut rumbling bass line.

‘We’re Fa’ ‘Enry!’ Announces singer John ‘Ralph’ Hetherington proudly, whilst drummer Little John screams incoherently from behind his ‘Tubs of Death’.

The second tune is classic ‘boom ching’; more technically known as an allegro 2/4 beat with emphasis on the ‘2’ provided by a much abused snare. The vocals aren’t so much sung as hurled aggressively at the microphone. There’s a confident stage presence, from all members. They clearly love their tunes- every member knows all the words. The standard ‘boom ching’ is cleverly broken up by a neat little hook. There are quite a few nice touches like this. One of the stand out points for this song is Matt ‘Jazz Hands’ Thompson’s amazing bass face.

They flow nicely into the third song, bassist Matt leading the way. There’s elements of The Specials here, especially in the vocal. Some interesting off beats weave their way into the mix; I’m unsure if they are intentional or not. Again, there’s little singing as such, just shouting in harmony.

After a short break and some banter (is the song called Diablo Sex Machina? I’m not sure!) a 3 count from the drummer leads us into a more intricate tune which really allows said drummer to flex his rhythmic muscles. The mix of beats in this is reminiscent of a fusion of western rock and eastern percussive styles. A real counterpoint to the harsh vocals and relentless guitar.

The next song Signals tells us ‘we’re stuck in a rut, where no one gives a fuck’. Back to basics here; dark, heavy with punk overtones.

Moving from punk influence to ska, the drums go double time to start the next song which actually has vocal harmonies that are surprisingly tuneful. The band seem to lose a bit of pace in the faster double time bits, but this is compensated for with raw energy in the caustically catchy chorus. We get a drum break down that is as sweet and rich as chocolate; low and thumping, leading into some professionally stomping riffs layered with a smooth groove on the bass. By far my favourite so far.

We are informed that the next song is by guitarist Jimmy; this is followed up by a bit of a verbal scrap as drummer LJ disputes this! On stage band in-fighting: classic. This track is very punk, very sharp and quirky but also very dark.

Last song excellent, moving away from the punk inspiration and into groove based metal; off beats, melodic guitars and some interesting rhythm changes. The bass flows up and down effortlessly behind and over crunchy, tight guitar. The vocals almost become a percussive instrument leading to a climactic finish. Pure rock.

Sadly there’s a quiet atmosphere for these guys. It’s very early on a Friday night and many of us are still digesting our dinner. Which is a shame as this is real get up and kick your heels music. Still by the end of the night there’s a fair few folks standing to appreciate this energetic, rock out band. Not overly complex, not trying to be clever: just sheer, heavy fun. Recommended.

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