A gig like this should be made compulsory for all who claim to like live music. A balmy Friday evening in the Welsh Valleys at one of the best venues in the UK, and two bands, The Virginmarys and Muddibrooke, who have made sterling efforts to get there.
The Patriot, Crumlin – 1 September 2023
Words and Photography: Paul Hutchings
Support band Muddibrooke told the audience that it had taken them over five and a half hours to get to Crumlin from Derby – a journey that should take about half as long.
Having made such a sterling effort, to be rewarded with a small gathering of around 30 punters is almost insulting. And that’s no detriment to all who did make the journey, for they are true music fans, and thankfully, the two bands were of such quality that those who didn’t make it missed out on a fantastic evening.
Now a power duo rather than a trio, there’s a buzz around The Virginmarys that’s been building for some years. It’s just a shame so few are here to witness the band’s latest show in Wales. [According to Setlist FM, it’s been 12 years since the band played in South Wales].
They deserved far more. But, for those there, The Virginmarys delivered in every possible way.
Rock duos have become much more palatable these days. From The White Stripes, Royal Blood, and my own favourites, The Inspector Cluzo, there’s plenty that can be delivered with an aggressive pairing of guitar and drums. Of course, it’s possible to enhance the sound as well, but I didn’t notice much in the way of additions tonight.
I’ve not spent much time with the band’s music, but it is a powerful combination of driving rhythmic rock with earnest, on-point lyrics. Driven by the powerhouse Danny Dolan on drums, The Virginmarys bring an 18-song set, which they bludgeon through in around 70 minutes.
It’s ample. This is one of those times where too much of a good thing can indeed be too much. And with the effort the band put in, any more would likely need pure oxygen to keep them going.
Singer/guitarist Ally Dikaty snarls his way through their social commentary, the band’s combination of rock, punk, alternative, blues and even grunge hitting home hard. For the fans in the room, it’s a chance to sing along to classics such as the opening track The Meds, NYS, Free To Go, the anthemic Motherless Land, and Devil Keeps Singing.
For the curious and uninitiated, it’s an opportunity to absorb a band whose credentials include a worldwide fanbase and support slots with such legends as Slash, Shinedown, Skunk Anansie and Queens of the Stone Age.
Ally is incredibly gracious between songs, thanking the venue for treating them well and appearing to be genuinely surprised at the response of those gathered in front of them.
He has an almost telepathic understanding with Danny, maybe unsurprising, given their long history together. Still, it’s an absolute stormer of a show, with apparent unlimited reserves of energy on stage.
It’s high-intensity stuff, and by the time we reach the final trio of Look Out For My Brother, Just A Ride and the triumphant closer Bang, Bang, Bang, it’s smiles all around.
As a newbie to the band, it was the perfect introduction. And for all those tempted to head to your local venue to see the latest tribute act, do yourself a favour and go and watch someone original instead.
It’s so much more rewarding, and as Ally says during the show, it’s venues like The Patriot that are keeping live music alive.
You can read the Muddibrooke review here.