Bass guitar/backing vocal, drums/backing vocals, lead guitar/lead singer. Was it easier to be a rock band and have young girls and grown men screaming in 1967 when this simple combo hooked up to an amp in small dark club was still fairly original, or more than 40 years later when we've seen it and heard it all before? I'm standing next to a speaker in the up-stairs room of the Louisiana pub in Bristol waiting for a band I know nothing about, having made the decision to be here about 20 minutes before hand.
Gary posted a video of Little Barrie on the SBlog the day before, and he informed me they would be playing locally and he would try get me on the guest list. It's a dank and cold Thursday night and no word has come back. At home still deliberating, watching the Surf Hell clip one more time, that repetitive twang of a rhythm beckons and 2 minutes later I'm on my bike into town.
Mr Benn has been transported back into time to 1967. It's a transcendental experience. There's no side entrance to the small stage so the band scurry on stage through the crowd. Both the crowd and the band's dress; and faces, are period correct in a casual sort of way. Only the sea of antenna arms holding up iPhones is proof that this is still 2011.
"TWANG" and they launch straight into Surf Hell. I feel like a teenage fan who knows all the lyrics and all the chords to all their songs. At the front (4" from the lead singer's mic) some crazy big hair rock fan is already going ape shit with flaying limbs. It's loved up and contagious. There is a contact high.
Puppy innocence and good complexion, they look young enough to be a school band and yet they are already notching up accolades from the press and seasoned stars. Lewis Wharton on bass looks like an early 70s greaser with shoulder length hair, a denim jacket, and a Norton T-shirt. But there's no sign of drug abuse or any Mod clash scars. He lays down solid bass lines like a tattooed brickie. Virgil Howe on drums, open blouse of a shirt, medallion on smooth chest, looks like Carlos Santana and plays like Animal from The Muppet Show but with more hair and more teeth. Front man Barrie Cadogan, shaggy mop, Paisley shirt, is a shrew of a man - I bet he got bullied by the big boys at school, but his charisma is lighthouse like - I bet he got the picking of 6th form girls at school. He jumps around his guitar like a 6 year old trampolining on his bed, fired up on too much orange squash. There is no 'too cool for school' attitude. Little Barrie is friendly and open.
One advantage of being a band in this century is the overview of history and freedom to pillage from any music genre of black, white, rock, blues, funk even. Mash it up, and make it your own. Little Barrie's carefree wall-to-wall shagpile freedom machine is powerful and they are very much in control. BP