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Live Review: The Crooked Fiddle Band, The Mouldy Lovers

5 November 2013 | 4:25 pm | Jazmine O’Sullivan

This set has been absolutely jam-packed with mind-blowing, face-melting, jaw-dropping, head-spinning moments, and will surely stay in the minds of those lucky enough to witness it for a very long time.

Considering The Mouldy Lovers are West End locals, it's no surprise they've brought a troupe of dedicated fans to The Joynt who create a fun, party atmosphere by dancing with free-spirited gusto from start to finish. As well as the fans, The Mouldy Lovers bring two trumpets, one saxophone, an accordion, a bass guitar, an acoustic guitar and a set of drums to the stage, leaving room for nothing other than the sounds of their high energy blend of gypsy and ska to occupy the venue's every orifice. After a rollicking set, the crowd begin to call for an encore, to which the group respond, “We're just the support act, it's not really the done thing,” before deciding to oblige.

The Crooked Fiddle Band make a bold first impression – the glorious beards of drummer Joe Gould and guitarist/mandolin/bouzouki player Gordon Wallace, the slender and striking electric double bass of Mark Stevens and violinist Jess Randall looking like a medieval heroine by using an archer's quiver to hold her spare bows. This visual grandeur is matched sonically, particularly in the way Randall is able to manipulate her instrument to create the most unconventional sounds. At one point she loosens her string so much that it almost becomes unhinged, while sliding her bow across it to create an abrasive, grating sound; at other times she plays between her bridge and fine tuners to create a sound that's similar to record scratching, all to the furious backing beat of the band. She later makes use of her quiver by pulling out a second bow, amplifying the aggression she's conveying with the instrument. Another intriguing aspect to the group's identity is their incorporation of old world themes and stories. Countess Bathory's Finishing School For Girls tells the musical tale of the infamous Elizabeth Bathory of the 16th century, while Shanti And The Singing Fish is an emotionally tumultuous tune telling a mystic tale of love and death, set amongst the water. We are then introduced to Randall's nyckelharpa – a Swedish instrument which is played with a bow, but held like a guitar, and has countless keys along its neck. It's quite impressive. The final two tracks, The Deep Water Drownings Part 1 and 2 are linked together to take us on an epic journey which lasts over 15 minutes, starting out with an almost demonic bass line before proceeding to evoke emotions of melancholy, angst, excitement, fear and wonder along the way. This set has been absolutely jam-packed with mind-blowing, face-melting, jaw-dropping, head-spinning moments, and will surely stay in the minds of those lucky enough to witness it for a very long time.