Live Review: Ward XVI and Jacob’s Story @ The Bobbin, Lancaster (17/9/16)

The Bobbin is one of my favourite venues, tucked away next to the bus station in Lancaster. I get up there at least once a month when I can – the people are great and so is their live music program for a free entry bar (as long as I’m plugging the shit out of my venue, you gonna check out our amazing Lancaster Music Festival weekend line-up or what?) Tonight was a date I threw together at short notice, grabbing a couple of likely semi-local bands by the scruff of the arse and flinging them at the stage (they seemed to enjoy it, if anything).

Opening tonight’s carnival of low-key debauchery were Preston’s Jacob’s Story, a band who seem to have been around so long they probably witnessed Zeus hammering Hades and Poseidon at roshambo to bag the King of Gods BC championship belt. I’ve seen them plenty before – reasonably tight pending the odd fuck-up, decent songs, but mayhaps Wembley arena beckoneth not for these musical journeymen. Recently, however, they’ve lost a guitarist (check under the fridge) and seem to have found a new lease of life with it. There’s something crisper about the way they go about this set and while it’s clear that some of the tracks are written with a second guitar in mind, it’s not to their detriment. Tonally everything is sounding much beefier than on previous outings and, as always, they really look to enjoy their playing. The crowd pick up on this, and the vibe in the room is a cheery one ahead of headliners Ward XVI.

Where to begin with Ward XVI? What they do is along the lines of the Alice Cooper shock rock from a performative point of view, framing their set with the missive:

‘The walls of Whittingham Hospital have corroded and six alleged psychopaths are on the loose. A nearby music store and a make-up and cosmetics shop have been ransacked which leads us to believe they are posing as a rock n roll band.’

From a musical perspective they bring a great deal of variety, with twin guitars and deep rumbling bass counterpointed nicely by tonally multifarious synth and adept use of the accordion to craft a unique, unhinged sound for themselves. Given that they’ve arrived from playing an earlier set just in time to catch Jacob’s Story, there’s impressively no hint of wear and tear in the vocal department as we’re fired through a full hour-long set. Their stage show is, to be frank, a step up on what I’m used to seeing at this level, with enough fake blood and costumed murder diversions to make Helena Bonham Carter and Tim Burton stamp their feet and clap their gnarled, twisted little fingers (if they’d bothered to RSVP to my invite). There aren’t many bands who can come into a new venue and play a full hour-long set without the audience losing interest, but Ward XVI pull it off perfectly and the crowd (much bigger than when they started, I might add) are left asking for an encore that won’t be forthcoming; they’ve played everything already. The Bobbin’s bar manager John quite honestly admitted that they might be the best band he’s ever seen here (high praise indeed, ‘cos if you’re shit he’s got no qualms about admitting that either). Keep an eye out, Lancaster, this is one band we’ll be bringing back soon.

Words by Jed Saint

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