Cabbage – Hare and Hounds, Birmingham (9th Feb 2017)

Whilst the world we’re currently living in may seem like a dystopian landscape – the NHS is gently slipping from our grips and the daunting challenge of coping with an austerity driven post-Brexit Britain has left us uneasy. However, there is at least one thing we love to come from all this, and that is the political rampage of Cabbage. Now get it down your throat.

We find them lurking outside Hare and Hounds, a quiet pub on the outskirts, but a chasm of all things dulcet inside that brings some of the country’s best bands to Birmingham.

The whole tour they’re accompanied by April and The Shimmer Band, two acts who definitely know how to liven up a crowd. There’s no stale audience as their infectiously poppy sound leaves you bopping to the beat. Although TSB may be clad in full glitter, from the boots to the shirts, your eyes cannot be drawn from their oversized fly eyed sunglasses as their lead bounces around the stage like some kind of Bez impersonator.

As the supports leave the stage there’s a rush to change up the equipment, pieces being grabbed from behind curtains as the room is emerged in darkness. That is until the band rumble through the door and onto the stage, breaking into the rolling sound of “Dissonance” almost immediately. This really sets the scene for what we have in store, a high octane eruption of fury led by an ecstasy influenced guitar that guides the crowd into a frenzy. Lyrics are shared between Joe Martin, lead guitar and the bands main lyricist, and Lee Broadbent, the off the wall frontman who is constantly fighting through the crowd the entire performance. The lyrics “You find yourself alone again” are drilled into your head as each time it’s leaving the idiosyncratic mouth of Joe it’s urgency and importance grows, before falling into silence, leaving the words echoing throughout your mind for a moment. That is before one final rumble of the chorus.

The poignant sound that ensues can only be compared to a heavy military blitz on the crowd in the form of “indispensable Pencil”. The schizophrenic-esque ramblings are sprayed out across the walls as Lee’s torn from the stage before his body convulses through and over the body of limbs that has become the crowd.  

Cabbage have always made stark remarks throughout their career, but my absolute favourite is brought into the world by their song “It’s Grim Up North Korea”. It’s about emigrating over to the hermit country. It hits a tune with me though, the title alone reminding me that being from the north does make me isolated, not only from an economic standpoint with the north south divide; but something that’s bred a little deeper into our society as that accent alone will leave you struck from conversations by some of the more proper folk.  It’s Grim Up North after all.

Following this six-minute tirade it’s the turn of “Necroflat In The Palace”. “This song’s a cliché” belts Lee in reference to a recent review. I mean, I can’t help but turn on the radio to hear a tune about royalty pumping my scummy corpse full of cum. Despite this songs heavily taboo topic of necrophilia it has a genuinely good heart that’s saturated with black humour. From the twisted tones of their voices to the idea of a gang bang in the palace to their constant humming of being born in the NHS and wanting to die in the NHS that creates an unadulterated sense of pride.

With their new song “Gibraltar Ape” making its debut the night before on BBC Radio 1, a mere twenty-four hours previously it’s time to hear it live. Take the underpinning bassline from The Fall’s “Mountain Energy” and twist in some twangs from the guitar as Joe’s voice strays through the tune in a strained tone. Joe’s staggered dramatics and stage presence see him enter through different characters that continuously evolve throughout the set such as in “Dinner Lady” where he plays a dinner lady with an extravagant persona, changing his tone to fit the role.

They close the curtains with a tune from their debut called “Kevin” which is met my a cacophony of rage from the crowd and one final lash of power from the band with Lee screaming into the face of an audience member who’s desperately clutching onto his shoulder. As quickly as they blistered on stage, they’re gone. Shooting off out the door. They’re only here for one thing, to make your kids scream as their name suggests. As the crowd are stuck between lingering and hoping there’s more and drifting their way back down to the bar one man says “I haven’t seen anything like that since the Sex Pistols”. Now, I cannot comment on that but if it isn’t a testament to the heart these boys put into their art then I don’t know what is.

 A lot of people are chewing it up at the moment and we don’t see any reason now to, hence the sold out show. They’re back on tour in July hosting three shows with similar acts The Blinders and Strange Bones. They’re not to be missed, check the dates below.  

Thurs 29th June – London Scala

Fri 30th June – Birmingham O2 Institute3

Sat 1st July – Manchester O2 Ritz