Following the pandemic lockdown, gigs have been very much back on the table throughout 2022, but for some people, there still seems to be an unease about returning to the fold and sweating it out with others in very close proximity. That might account for tonight’s Abdoujaparov show feeling a little…undersold. It might also be down to the fact that bandleader Leslie George Carter doesn’t always seem keen to trade off his Carter USM past, often preferring to let this band attract people on their own merits, and relying on fan knowledge to attract a crowd. You’d think between the presence of an indie/punk legend and it not being a school night, Ramsgate Music Hall would be packed, but whatever happens, those who’ve come out tonight know they’re in for a great time.
The beginning of September 2022 has been horrible. The British government has all but fallen apart, bumbling from day to day; energy prices have reached a new level of unaffordable, and the corner of Kent where the Music Hall sits, proudly but unassumingly in a seaside back street, has been battered by apocalyptic weather for what now feels like an eternity. The summer has started to feel like a distant memory. On top of that, The Queen has died. For most people – monarchists or otherwise – this has more than added to an escalating feeling of unease. Most people have no knowledge of a world without Queen Elizabath II on the throne, and somewhat predictably, the internet has quickly descended into factions, either mourning or gloating. It’s fair to say that a distraction is in order.
Tonight’s show from Martin & Eliza Carthy at Ramsgate Music Hall is the distraction we all need, but this show from the father and daughter folk duo has felt a long time coming. Originally scheduled for November 2021, it got postponed until March ’22 and then cancelled. Just as most people started to think it would never happen, it was then re-announced, and almost a year down the line – not before time – the Carthys are set to put in a most welcome appearance on a drab Thursday night.
It’s 8:30 on a Friday night and Venus Grrrls have just taken to the stage at Ramsgate Music Hall. The Leeds band are unknown to most of the audience, but it’s great to witness the venue already packed to the rafters. If this were a London gig, most of the paying crowd would still be in a nearby pub, or standing in the venue bar talking, and paying the musicians very little attention. The seaside crowd are often more thoughtful and, looking at the gathering tonight, this is no exception. It actually feels even more crowded than when Electric Six and Red Snapper played at the small venue at the end of 2021. At a time when people are still concerned about Coronavirus, or the cost of living has made casual nights out difficult for many, it’s a sight that really restores hope.
As November breathes its last, the changing weather has been a keen reminder that we’re moving from autumn into winter. Parts of Britain are being battered by strong winds; other parts are experiencing snow. Luckily, the Kent coast seems to have escaped the white stuff – for now – but it’s cold. Very cold. Outside the Music Hall in Ramsgate, it feels like the arctic, and those venturing out could feel like Captain Oates. To be fair, everyone has been – and will be – subjected to far colder, but a year’s worth of not going out much due to the global pandemic has made it seem particularly harsh. It’s worth braving the cold tonight, though, as Detroit’s Electric Six are in town as part of a last minute addition to their UK tour.
There’s a feeling of high spirits at a packed out Ramsgate Music Hall this evening. Part of that is due to summer having finally kicked in – we’ve just sweated our way through two of the hottest days of the year – but more than that, there’s a genuine excitement surrounding the return of tonight’s headliners, KOLARS. Despite being based in the US, Rob Kolar (vox, gtr) and Lauren Brown (drums, tap dancing) almost feel like they’re seaside dwellers from Kent by now and the locals love them. They’ve played the venue twice during the previous fifteen months, but they’re the kind of band people would come out for even if the venue booked them even more often. KOLARS are pretty enamoured with the small venue too, having chosen it to record live material back in July 2018.