Wednesday, September 16, 2009


I have been following The Broken Family Band since first album "The King Will Build A Disco". Somehow, many years too late, this gig at Klondyke Bowling Club in Levenshulme was the first time I actually saw them live. I've been thinking about this night a lot following the news that The Broken Family Band gigs I'm going to in October will be their last:

“After eight happy years The Broken Family Band has decided to give it a rest. We can’t pin it on musical differences, we’ve just decided to quit while we’re ahead. We’ve had a fantastic time being in this group together, and we’re all still friends so we haven’t ruled out doing stuff together in the future. There’s no dramatic ending, but these shows are our farewell to The Broken Family Band. We’d like to thank everyone who’s helped us out and given us so much pleasure since we started, but we’re not going to.”

As well as my first time seeing BFB this was my first visit to the Klondyke Bowls Club in Levenshulme. I remember turning into a seemingly dead-end residential street and thinking "bollocks - we've been sold tickets for a gig in a venue that doesn't exist". Somehow the cul-de-sac led into a rutted gravel path that led into a dimly lit car park and a Scooby Doo haunted house. Well actually the aforementioned Bowls Club. Inside was a proper working man's boozer: darts boards, snooker tables, a dense cloud of cigarette smoke. Is there a BAND playing here tonight??

Well there was in a side room. The room was square, unadorned and frankly in need of paint and TLC. The room had groups of people milling about quite aimlessly. We worked out where the stage might by the fact the milling seemed to be just in one half of the room. There was a barefoot woman lying on the floor too. It was all a bit weird and just didn't feel like a gig was about to take place.

However take place it did. Support was from Soft-Hearted Scientists (gentle Welsh pastoralism - sedate but quietly lovely) and possibly one other band but myself, Mr P and Ms L have racked our brains and cannot remember who it might have been. Whether it was one or two support bands, bare-footed woman continued to lay on the floor in front of the low stage.

When The Broken Family Band took the stage something magical happened. I don't whether it was the music, the crowd or the venue but something definitely changed in the atmosphere when Steven Adams said "Hello Levenshulme ...[dramatic pause]... a phrase I've waited all of my thirty two years to say". Following the laughter that provoked, things just kicked off. The band, despite having just driven up from Cambridge, tore through a set of old favs and songs from "Balls" which was just out. The crowd couldn't get close enough to the band and were dancing and singing deliriously. And everyone, band members, hard-core fans, casual audiences members had smiles on their faces. Possibly even bare-footed woman but I'd lost sight of her in the delirious melee. From the start of the evening which looked like a real non-event this became one of the best and most enjoyable gigs I've ever been too.

At the end it seemed no-one wanted to go home. The band were happy to chat and sign CDs, the crowd just didn't want to leave the room in case the spell was broken. My final memory of the evening was seeing the band after humping their gear through a fire-door into the car park, stick their heads around the door to wave at everyone with big idiot-grim faces. An emotional once-in-a-lifetime event: it was like a wedding, New Year and the best party you've ever been to rolled into one.

And now at the end of October, The Broken Family Band are splitting up. I'll get to see they twice more (once the final show: an invitation-only, fancy dress gig at the Cambridge pub they played their first gig in) and then it's over. But we'll always have the music. And we'll always have Levenshulme.

Those final tour dates are here.

The Broken Family Band
Balls [BUY]


Anonymous said...

Bloody hell you know I'm a overly sentimental fool - I can barely type through the tears that are running down my cheeks. What a magical night that was and I can't believe we'll only see them twice more - I can pretty much guarantee more tears in Cambridge!

Mr P.

Anonymous said...

Although I love Mr A and Mr P, I remember saying to someone that night my social life was SO desperate I was spending it at Levenshulme Bowling Club!
That night I fell in love with The Broken Family Band. The band may be taking a rest but my love will continue.

Ms L

High Priestess of Punk-chew-ation said...

I can't help wondering if the real reson the night was so memorable was because you saw the band humping their equipment! Now there's something you don't see every day. Even in Levenshulme.

Anonymous said...

Trust you to be so base.

It was a very beautiful evening and just because you weren't there to share it doesn't make it any less beautiful.

Oh, OK maybe just a little bit less.

Mr P.

Anonymous said...

Hey, we were there at Levenshulme too, the second support was some extremely awful bloke who sang and played acoustic guitar...
Best gig i've ever been too and am ever likely to go to; seen them a few times since but never as good!

The Archivist said...

So there WAS another support! Thanks for confirming this. "Some awful bloke who sang and played acoustic guitar..." Seen a few of those in my time...