Review: The Stumble at Haig House, Liverpool – 20 February 2009

Posted on: Tuesday, Feb 24, 2009


This was the first gig presented by John and Lorraine Welsh at Haig House, the home of Garston Royal British Legion. The venue is spacious and comfortable and ideally suited to the large attendance that was attracted by the appearance of The Stumble. The atmosphere was excellent: a perfect match for a superb performance from the pride of Preston.

The band bounced into gear with “It’s A Lie” and “You Upset Me, Baby” before lead guitarist Colin Black switched to harp for “Kind Of Girl”. The slow and bluesy “Flesh And Bone” gave way to the upbeat “Bus Stop”, the first of several numbers from the band’s brilliant new album, Houngan. Vocalist, Paul Melville, then excelled on a fabulous rendition of “Ain’t Nobody’s Business”, which also featured sublime guitar work from Black and Jonny Spencer and a fine tenor sax solo from Simon Anthony. “Gonna Paint The Town Tonight”, a dose of unadulterated rock and roll, was followed by the rumba-rhythmed “Saturday Night” and “Leadin’ Me On”, with Anthony switching to baritone sax for the last two numbers. The first set was brought to a close with “The World Is Tough”, the excellent title track of the band’s previous album.

The second set opened with the Bo Diddley beat of “Your Love For Me” and a second helping of rumba with “Sugar Don’t Taste So Sweet”. The slow blues, “All Over Again”, then brought the house down, as it always does, with Melville once again magnificent on vocals, Black delivering a magical guitar solo and Anthony providing another excellent sax solo as he went walkabout amid the audience. The galloping pace of “Meet Me At The Bottom” was contrasted with the calming balm of “Sit Right Here” and the hypnotic beat of “Houngan”, which saw Colin Black revert to harp and Simon Anthony to baritone sax. Meanwhile, a splendid-looking didgeridoo remained conspicuously unplayed in the absence of any guest appearance by Harper.

The broad-ranged miscellany continued with “Let The Good Times Roll” and the medium-paced shuffle, “Be My Baby” when an unplanned hiatus occurred as a result of Jonny Spencer’s breaking a string. No problem. Undaunted, Paul Melville, simply filled the gap with a wonderful a capella delivery of “Sign Your Name”, accompanying himself on beer glass and coin. The climax arrived in the form of “Gimme Back Your Wig”, expertly driven by Spencer on slide guitar and the first class foundation of Boyd Tonner on drums and Dave Heath on bass guitar. The applause was deafening as was the call for an encore, to which the band responded with “Small World”.

There is little doubt that Haig House will be used again to host a blues gig: there is absolutely no doubt that The Stumble will be invited back.

The Stumble website

Lionel Ross
(photograph by John R Welsh)

for more excellent photos of the gig by John, click here



February 24th, 2009 at 12:54
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Thanks Lionel – excellent review as ever. The band were very good indeed and the location for the venue is certainly easier for me than the centre of Liverpool.

My only slightly negative comment is that the room has very dead acoustics. The PA was balanced perfectly with vocals and sax very clear, the bass was excellent but the guitars and especially the drums were a bit too quiet from where I was sitting. Let’s face it – it’s not too often that you can say that the guitars and drums were too quiet. I am sure that onstage the guitars were screaming but slightly out to the side a little too low. I’d recommend a couple of mikes on the kit next time.

Great stuff. Looking forward to John’s next Liverpool gig – watch this space for the preview of the Backbones.



February 24th, 2009 at 12:55
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… forgot to mention the price of the drinks. I got a pint for myself and a short plus mixer for the good lady wife and the overall price was only a few coppers more that a pint alone in Alexander’s in Chester the previous night.

Incredible prices.



February 25th, 2009 at 10:42
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I think you are right, Ken. I particularly noticed that Colin Black’s guitar wasn’t quite loud enough. A cracking night, nevertheless. The low bar prices were also a welcome surprise.



February 25th, 2009 at 13:06
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Lionel – you were a bit more off to one side than I was so that’s not really surprising.

It’s not often that two Les Pauls, a Green stack and a Marshall stack are too quiet. LOL.

Cracking indeed. I just heard that The band will be performing in Buckley at the new venue there, so watch this space for details on that too when I get home.



February 25th, 2009 at 22:59
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The Stumble in Buckley ? that’s great news