The Handsome Family, York Fibbers: 22 June 2008

handsome family ticket

Why doesn’t anybody warn you when you are a teenager, no matter what your musical tastes are then, when you hit forty you will have an uncontrollable urge to start listening to country music (you know it’s true). Having found myself in this condition the search was on to find music that couldn’t possibly be linked to the likes of shania twain and Garth Brookes. Enter “The Handsome Family” comprising of husband and wife duo Brett and Rennie Sparks. He writes the tunes and she provides the lyrics. On first listening you are confronted with what seems like pleasant enough country inspired melodies, but tuning into the lyrics lines pop up like “Darling don’t you know/It’s only natural to want to kill, a beautiful thing” and you happily realise “Take me home country roads” won’t be featuring on any of their albums.
After some well spent money on a fair bit of their back catalogue and checking gig listings for about a year, finally they were doing a UK tour. Not Manchester though, so traversing the pennines to York was the only way to see them. Luckily our good friend Digs lives there, so Gerry (my wife) Bob and myself met up with him there and we took ourselves off to the gig.
Fibbers is just my kind of club, a tiny place where you can stand with a pint at the bar and watch the bands play. Having arrived there and got our first drink, I was beside myself when I realised Brett and Rennie Sparks wre just milling around the club themselves watching Napoleon the 3rd the support act.
When they came on stage themselves they really didn’t disappoint, starting with “Far from any road”, very Nancy Sinatra/Lee Hazelwood, and continuing for an other hour or doing a really entertaining set.

handsome family
What I didn’t realise about them live is, besides the music, connecting with the audience is a real important part of the evening, so inbetween songs they have a great banter with the crowd making it a very cozy affair (tonights banter was mainly about the nettles that had stung Rennie on the way into the gig).
After the gig Rennie Sparks was flogging cds at the back of the club, where I even managed a very drunken conversation with her. The next day digs reminded me on the way home i had said (sluringly) that it been “one of the best nights of my life”. Maybe a slight exaggeration but that’s how I felt at the time.
For first timers try to listen to a copy Of “In the air” probably their most complete album.
Also check out their web site Rennie likes to do a bit of painting, some great paintings of fans pets, in pet heaven.

handsome family

Mike McD.

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