Ever since Free Rock and Roll moved from the Caledonia into the considerably fluffier environs of Mello Mello, the bi-weekly event flourished. Tonight, the assembled are treated to an hour of ‘kitchen-core’ classics about lorry drivers, cats, dogs and amusingly, stupid things hippies say.
The splendidly-adorned Long Finger Bandits have the semblance of a carnival troop, their costumes being their only redeeming feature when they stumbled through their first gig 18 months ago. They’ve now got their act together, recruited a tall, imposing saxophonist and evolved into a fuller, tighter outfit. Their infectious fusion of ska, folk and, er, circus music (that’s the only way to describe it, honest) seems a good enough reason to work off Pete’s (legendary) free Veggie Scouse™ via the medium of boogie.
Ben from LFB barely has time to remove her face paint and don her ubiquitous red pinny for the Dinnerladies, for whom she appears on bass under the pseudonym Marie Goldie. Pete begins by inviting everyone to pray for more good weather “so we can riot in shorts and t-shirts”. Comedy is as much a part of Pete’s act as the music; he enthusiastically explains the meaning behind songs, such as ‘Nature’, which was inspired by a conversation with a self-righteous hippy:
“I don’t eat animals cos they don’t eat me.”
“Well let’s pop down to Chester Zoo and stick your head in a lion’s cage so we can test that theory, shall we?”
‘Cats and Dogs’ is about how the former would probably destroy the human race if they had opposable thumbs and access to heavy artillery.
By the second encore, it’s turned into a right old organic cider-fuelled knees-up; everyone obeys Pete’s command to kneel on the floor before leaping back up for one chorus. Despite a lone stage invader almost spoiling proceedings, the show is a triumph.