Hebden Bridge has had a tough time of it these past few months. Back in December, following regular rainfall for a number of weeks in the lead up to Christmas, matters took a turn for the worse and the town was subjected to devastating floods. Walking through the town even today, the damage is still prevalent. Sandbags litter the streets and shop fronts are bare.
The impact to the small market town has been massive, but the resolve of the people has seemingly been strengthened in its wake. Rejuvenation is already well under way, and the people of Hebden have come together to rebuild on what they’ve lost in the floods and show a real sense of community spirit in the process.
Made up of Fat White Family members, two thirds of the Eccentronic Research Council and friends of both parties, The Moonlandingz are pitched as Johnny Rocket and his friends – a “Semi fictional Outsider Ouija Pop Group” – and Saturday night saw them welcomed with open arms by the inhabitants of the ‘Lesbian Capital of the UK’
With the venue positively buzzing, guitarist Saul Adamczewski is almost unrecognisable as he steps on the stage – which is a positive thing, all things considered. ‘Whitest Boy On The Beach’, the lead single from the Fat Whites sophomore album ‘Songs For Our Mothers’, featured the band shorn of their locks, with Saul subsequently looking particularly emaciated. Tonight at The Trades Club, the hair’s grown back and he’s looking much better, sporting a shit-eating grin throughout and a fetching pair of retro specs. His partner in crime, front man Johnny Rocket a.k.a. Lias Saoudi of Fat White Family, is close behind, arriving on stage with half a loaf of Tiger bread stuck on his wrist.
Lias exudes excess. Quite frankly, he looks battered. Sheffield were treated to the sight of Lias wearing more than just bread the night before, with his look completed by makeshift earrings made of ham and hair gel of the ‘red pepper hummus’ variety. Tonight though, he looks to be wearing just the after-effects of the previous evening.
The Fat Whites front man has been getting some stick lately, with numerous sources questioning the validity of his persona. But whether it’s Johnny Rocket of The Moonlandingz or Lias Saoudi of Fat White Family, I find him completely compelling. Tonight at The Trades Club, his stage presence is captivating.
Adrian Flanagan and Dean Honer, The Eccentronic Research Council members that make up the button pushing, knob twisting, synth quirks of The Moonlandingz, are equally as captivating, but in an entirely different way – the old guard cutting a striking backdrop to the soon-to-be gyrating front man.
Following a brief delay prior to the first song (in which we’re assured “It won’t be worth the wait”), The Moonlandingz blast into action, tipping the already energetic crowd into near fever pitch. It’s hard not to match the grin of Saul when the band get going; their collective noise being so quirky and infectious.
I love the irony of Lias sweating his arse off in an ill-fitting suit, seemingly portraying a sleazy business man at the karaoke, whilst to my left, a short, stout bald geezer in an ill-fitting suit dances as if his life depends on it, having the time of his life.
The delectable ‘Sweet Saturn Mine’ comes a few songs in, with a surge of people pushing to the stage and forming a pit up front. Guitarist Saul grins like a Cheshire cat as Lias controls the people in attendance; Hebden’s finest getting lost in the psychedelia.
Having delved deep into the set, guest vocalist Rebecca Taylor (of Slow Club fame) puts out a request for a glass of red to be bought to the stage. The initial request sees the rest of the band pipe up, and a punter is soon sent off to the bar, not to return to the stage unless he’s accompanied by multiple bottles of red. More fuel for the energetic Moonlandingz.
Rebecca is a great addition to the evening’s line-up, getting stuck in with the rest of the band and keeping up with Lias as much as possible. A heartfelt duet between the two slows proceedings down slightly, before its soon amped back up again. The duet is taken from the upcoming debut LP from The Moonlandingz, which is set to feature guest vocals from not just Taylor, but apparently Phil Oakey, Yoko Ono and fucking Randy Jones from The Village People!
Lias is out in the crowd numerous times during the show, sweating out what’s inevitably in his system before their early doors show the next day in Bristol. Adored by the crowd, he’s determined to get to know the people in the pit personally by the show’s end.
After a whirlwind performance from the seven or eight on stage that make up The Moonlandingz, the adventure is over. Before making his departure, Saul cuts through the rapturous applause with a request over the microphone for anyone with drugs to make themselves known. I’d bet my flat that this request was met with the desired response.
I was certain the baying mob gathered at The Trades Hall would be treated to an encore, but instead the lights remained down whilst a selection of songs from the Twin Peaks soundtrack drifted from the speakers, which is just as good. Rather than take this as the cue to venture off into the night, most punters just stuck about, replenishing their glasses and discussing the show. That Hebden spirit.
My girlfriend makes a comment on the evening that it’s “…like if the cast of ‘It’s Always Sunny’ were a band.” Whatever the case, I won’t be forgetting the night Johnny Rocket and his friends visited the town of Hebden Bridge, entrancing its inhabitants with their infectious blend of ‘Outsider Ouija Pop’.