The Urban Voodoo Machine

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Live Review: Whisperinandhollerin

Cardiff, The Globe, 4th October 2014 

This is a really difficult and sad review to write. Less than twenty four hours before this gig, The Urban Voodoo Machine announced the tragic and unexpected death of their violin player, Robb ‘The Kid’ Skipper, who passed away far too early, aged only twenty eight.

This alone, should have meant that the band never made the stage in Cardiff, but one of the things I admire most about these guys is their ability to stare adversity straight in the eye and play an absolute blinder of a gig.

Nine of the fifteen songs in the set are from their latest album, the poignantly titled ‘Love, Drink & Death!’ However, those expecting a funereal atmosphere here are completely wrong, as the band manage to turn any mood of sadness to a joyful celebration of Robb’s life. It is a testament to the band’s professionalism and sheer force of will that they can successfully make such a move.

Opening with their customary ‘(Theme From) The Urban Voodoo Machine’, the band never lets up. For an hour and a half or so, a packed crowd at the band’s first ever Cardiff gig are treated to delight after delight.

The band managed to get the whole audience on their side singing along to ‘Orphan’s Lament’, and there was plenty of drinking and dancing going on in front of the stage. The wonderful and comedic ‘Drinking My Life Away’ off the latest album was a real highlight, as was a blistering version of ‘Heroin (Put My Brothers In The Ground)’.

Tonight, the band were on top form, so much so that they were able to carry off an excellent version of ‘Train Wreck Blues’, despite the fact that this is a song that relied so much upon Robb’s violin skills. Singles such as ‘Pipe & Slippers Man’ and ‘Help Me Jesus’ got an extremely enthusiastic reception from the audience, who fully committed themselves to joining in the proceedings.

The band finished up with ‘Killer Sound’ and ‘Love Song #666’, two tracks from their first album ‘Bourbon Soaked Gypsy Blues Bop ‘n’ Stroll’, which set the house ablaze, with some of the audience filtering out into the night afterwards almost overwhelmed and blown away by the voodoo experience!

I personally have seen the band on many occasions, but this was without doubt the best gig of theirs I have ever seen, with the band being purposeful and completely spot on all night. As a tribute to Robb, this was just perfect. If ‘The Kid’ were looking down that night, he would have had that wonderful huge grin lighting up his face.

By Nick Browne

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