It’s a strange world we live in. Beth Jeans Houghton is in town. Lauded by the music monthlies, bigged up by the bloggers and in with the in crowd, she’s apparently on the cusp. The fact that paparazzi outnumber the people on their feet in the crowd for the first couple of songs seems to undermine this though.

Apparently, the Geordie singer is stepping out with Anthony Kiedas of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. So what? That’s the draw for the gutter press though (actually on their knees to get that money shot of Houghton in her figure-hugging red hot pants).

The juxtaposition is frightening. As she is yet to go over the top, the 100 or so in the crowd are supposed to be cool as cats. You know, in the know. But the conservatism (that’s a small ‘c’) of the punters reveal that they’re not sold on her yet. Maybe we’ve just come to gawp too.

As the entertainment industry knock over more rules in the rush to congratulate themselves down the road at the Brits, the music industry carries on regardless in a half-full club on Mathew Street.

The punchline? The majority of the punters aren’t here for the art. And those that are, are too self-conscious to let go. Thank God for the band, then.

Houghton has brought the Hooves of Destiny on the road with her this time (last time in town, stepping out with just a guitar and a rack of loop pedals) and it’s working.

A standard, guitar-led line-up with the added finesse of fiddle and effects (they could do with losing the click track though), they tear through Houghton’s debut album, ‘Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose’, and hit their stride with the glorious pop racket of ‘Honeycomb’. The songs are tight, have no fat and use economy and clarity in the same way most these days use noodling and excess.

In short, for a quirky new group in a world of, well, quirky new groups, they’re a breath of fresh air.

Perhaps it’s Houghton’s voice that’s the key: a refreshing female baritone in an age of banshees (actually, Siouxsie and her band might be a good reference point). But I digress.

On a night when being distinctly average is being celebrated by millions, Houghton proves it’s sometimes good enough to just be yourself.

And, especially on Mathew Street, yourself is something to be…

Alan O’Hare
Image by Graeme Lamb Media

4 Responses to “Review: Beth Jeans Houghton at Eric’s”

  1. My friends and I were there and it was an absolutely great gig. The crowd wasn’t ‘conservative’, but Eric’s wasn’t set up in a way that encouraged a lively crowd – it had a lot of table and chairs out with only a small space at the front to stand. Everyone was on their feet by the end though, and I would definitely see the lovely lady and the brilliant band again! 

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