The Cluny is comfortably full on a wet Friday night and I arrive to catch one of the support bands Well Hung Heart who are whipping up quite a storm on the compact stage. Made up of singer Greta Valenti and Robin Davey (who doubles up as bassist with The Hoax) they set us up nicely for The Hoax with a short raucous set that drags in a few chorus’ of a The Stones ‘Gimme Shelter’ and a romp through Zeppelin’s ‘Whole Lotta Love’ leaving the crowd happy and in the right mood for a The Hoax’s brand of hard rocking British blues.
The band are making something of a comeback after a long break and provide a good model of how to work in the internet age. They recorded their album by crowd sourcing it and hit the target in just two weeks. They clearly have a solid fan base given the number of people resplendent in “The Hoax” t-shirts and being pretty much word perfect on every song.
They draw their sound from Muddy Waters and Howlin Wolf and feature impressive beards and chunky guitar and an authentic Chicago harmonica sound. The music is meaty, good time Friday night music and the number of checked shirts and baldy heads tells you something about the more mature crowd. The music is top-notch as they roar through a set of self penned numbers from across their career with a good number from their new album ‘Big City Blues’. The twin guitar attack rests well with the crowd and each song is met with cheers, stamping and whistles.
Mid set we get a steamy ‘Swallow My Pride’ that has playing reminiscent of Peter Green at his very best. The crowd are hushed quiet during an emotional ‘Two Steps Back’ which features some old fashioned use of the whammy bar with echoes of the great lost blues guitar masters like Rory Gallagher with a touch of Hendrix and Paul Kossoff at their busiest. They end the main set on a glorious ‘Love Shakedown’ that has thundering riffs and our heroic lead singers tightly sculptured quiff looks like it will collapse any moment as he bounces around the cramped stage. They encore with a fine cover of B B Kings ‘How Blue Can You” a fitting point for me to make my exit.
The Hoax are probably the best straight blues band I’ve seen in a long long time and I’d urge anyone with a passing interest in “The Blues” to check them out next time they are in Newcastle.
Reviewer: Greg Johnson
Photographer: John Jobling