Merry Hell, Gig Review. Philharmonic Music Rooms, Liverpool.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * * *

The bench mark so keenly set out by the month of January is normally set at a medium position, the year to come not wanting to have to work so hard to leap past records as if produced by the great Lyn Davies or Jonathan Edwards, the quick jump into the musical express never one to be truly expected as the audience and band alike always find themselves unravelling their web like bones from a season of warmth and inside festivities.

If the year was going to wake with a bang, if within the first two weeks of a 12 month calendar which could only, hopefully, be kinder to art than it was in 2016, then who better than arguably a band that gives Wigan an even better name in history than its famous F.A. Cup Final win and one that stands shoulder to shoulder with George Orwell’s keen eyed observations which did so much for English Literature then who better than Merry Hell.

A band oozing the scintillating and the joy of performance, a group of eight musicians who take apart what it means to have Folk Rock music playing around in your head and who like The Levellers spin a tale so devastating you cannot help but be entranced by both its lyrics and the way it is presented on stage, for Merry Hell the two are like a marriage and one that is wholesome and full of endearing love, it is impossible not to wish them well and hope they stay in your life for a long, long time.

The evening inside the Philharmonic Music Rooms was one that didn’t just blow the dust off the post Christmas bones, it sprinkled some much needed life into the coming months, all gigs it seems could be judged, rightly or wrongly against Merry Hell’s appearance in Liverpool this year.

With songs such as Loving The Skin You’re In, Summer Is A-Comin’ the fantastic Bury Me Naked with its incredible adept and surreal spade and shovel backing, We Need Each Other Now, Stand Down, Emerald Green, the fast paced The Butcher and the Vegan, The Baker’s Daughter and Fear of Falling all tied into the mix, this was a set of grandeur, of collective spirit and one that made that bench mark normally set to somewhere around average for January, feel like the most colossal and important notch possible. A night of undisputed foot tapping set to its extreme, Merry Hell indeed.

Ian D. Hall