Beth Jeans Houghton And The Hooves Of Destiny @ The Westgarth – 19/2/12

‘…With melody, deep, clear, and liquid-slow. Oh, for the healing swaying, old and low, of some song sung to rest the tired dead, a song to fall like water on my head…’ A quote from my favourite poem ‘I Am In Need Of Music’ by Elizabeth Bishop which I feel sums up both the music and vocals of Beth Jeans Houghton and the Hooves of Destiny. I was looking forward to this gig and judging from the turn out at the Westgarth (a pretty full house) a good show was obviously anticipated by all.


The night kicked off with a set from The Last Spectacular, a 5 piece band hailing from the north east. There was an obvious American country vibe in their music, with a nice mix of folk and rock as well. They have a pleasant sound and a decent beat, with rich, placid vocals, like warm Horlicks in your ears. It would make perfect music to relax to, beer in hand, swinging in your garden hammock, on a Sunday afternoon.


Second up, we heard another 5-piece group, this time from Birmingham. These guys have been touring with Beth Jeans and it’s easy to see why. They’ve got an impressive sound, with vocals that could have been plucked straight out of the 60’s. Obvious influences, such as Simon and Garfunkel and Bob Dylan, shine through in their music, however it certainly isn’t imitation. They’ve infused much of themselves into the blend, making them a thoroughly modern outfit.


Even with such strong support, Beth Jeans Houghton still managed to wow. Visually she is a real presence on stage, with blue hair and bright red lips she is every inch the front woman. Despite the big look, her between song banter showed that she’s really just a friendly northern lass. However it was her voice that instantly shone, brighter than any of the visuals. She is 22-year-old girl with a woman’s voice: velvety low tones and beautiful pitch perfect operatic highs. Her vocals really showcased her fantastic range, being anything but lazy. Not only was Beth’s voice great, there were some fantastic harmonies from the other band members, something that I always enjoy. A few of their songs ended on gorgeous, flawless acapella harmonies. The song structures were unusual and original, making for very interesting listening, with music traversing from very basic openings to altogether grand finales. I was impressed that they managed to create a big sound with just four band members, but Beth’s voice is like another instrument, filling out the room brilliantly.
Their songs were relatively short, which kept the audience absorbed at all times and, for me, they ended on a high: Madonna’s ‘Like a Prayer’, gathering the members of Goodnight Lenin on stage to sing along with them. It was definitely a fun, quirky finish to a great set. Beth Jeans and the Hooves of Destiny is definitely the best band I’ve seen in 2012… ok, I know it’s only February, but I reckon this will still ring true for a while yet. Their album ‘Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose’ is available now on iTunes and I suggest you buy it. You’ll be missing out otherwise.





By Clare H on March 5, 2012

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