Dave Hause & The Mermaid – Gorilla Manchester – 14.03.2017

Back to Manchester’s lively Oxford Road again and this time it’s to one of the cities more subtle venues – Gorilla. Had you not attended a show at the venue before, Gorilla may come across as a busy London esque-bar, but were you to venture through the walls you would find a spacious yet cosy live room which tonight plays host to a formidable line up –  rounded off by veteran punk rocker Mr Dave Hause and his touring band The Mermaid.

Stepping in as a replacement for the M.I.A Dead Heavens is Kayleigh Goldsworthy, a member of Hause’s backing band and a solo artist in her own right. Her country folk leanings provide a delicate opener for the show with tracks like Tennessee coming across as warm and truthful solo as they do on record. After trying to awaken the seemingly napping crowd with her quick wit, she closes out the set –  accompanied by bandmate Tim Hause – with a harmony-laden Where The Summer Goes and proves herself to be far more than a ‘ last minute replacement’.

It’s five minutes later and a denim-clad fellow strolls onto the stage, straps on an acoustic guitar and proceeds to play a set of melancholy, emotive songs to those in attendance. Robyn G Shiels is a sight to behold ; behind his glasses lies a man playing music with such conviction and honesty that tracks like Hello Death and An Offering As Such suck the audience into their dark folk tales with ease. Besides his cutting Northern Irish humour, a standout moment here is a wonderful rendition of Underneath A Night Of Starsproviding a stark and atmospheric end to a strong supporting set.

A veteran of the late 90’s/early 00’s punk rock scene, there was a time when Dave Hause seemed to be everywhere, whether it was playing with heartland punkers The Loved Ones or being a staple of the much lauded Revival Tour. It’s a little rarer to see the man on UK shores these days, but with a brilliant new record out and a tour to promote it, Hause is here to prove his worth once again.

Opening with a blistering Damascus, the band build to the songs crashing ending as if it were the final song of the set – alas it is not as new kid The Flinch with it’s pulsing backbeat and the “Woah-oh” refrain of Autism Vaccine Blues hurtle from the venues PA. Since the dissolution of his former band, Hause has forged a simple but highly effective path of catchy, storytelling rock music and live he comes across as ‘Punk Rock Springsteen’ commanding the stage with all of the charisma of the original Boss but with added venom. This is showcased on the goodtime AC/DC stomp of Dirty Fucker and the confessional blues grind of The Mermaid which makes surprisingly good use of the melodica throughout.

Speaking of The Mermaid, Hause’s backing band for the tour are a tower of strength, providing three-part harmonies with ease and helping their front-man’s music –  old and new –  leap out of the speakers. Firm live favorite Time Will Tell gets a huge singalong as does Devour classic We Could Be Kings which sees Hause deliver a vocal performance as strong as any in his genre.

As the farewell duo of Prague (Revive Me) and a rousing C’mon Kid tie things up this evening, there is a feeling of solidarity in the crowd and from the stage. Dave Hause is bringing to the live arena something that seems to be a lost art in this musical climate ; providing people with meaningful yet catchy as heck music, delivered by a man who wants to take you to the places he’s been, see life through his eyes, but also wants to give you a damn good rock n’ roll show while he’s doing it. (9)