Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves Of Destiny – Review

It’s half nine on a Friday and in Leeds’ Cockpit-2 there is a palpable sense of anticipation, if not exactly frenzied then most certainly expectant. Beth and the band head out onto the stage to the blast of a whistle and Brazilian style carnival music, a fitting entrance for the visually exuberant bunch; decked out in an array of tribal paint, hats, feathers, tie dye and floral prints. Beth herself rocks a coiffeur that would fit nicely into an 18th century European court, complemented by red polka dot suit and tacky bling necklace. Just look at the pictures, what a stunner!

After a breathless hello they swing straight into the rolling drumbeat and bouncy guitar loop of Atlas, if you’ve ever heard Congolese Zouk or Seben, it was oddly reminiscent of these styles. All through the set there were flashes of subtly incorporated influences, they’re fourth song has an echo of stadium rock in the chorus, a spoken rap in another song is evocative of something, the name escapes me, by Blondie. Topped by the alternately crooning/choirboy-like vocals of Beth (Imogen Heap is a frequent but fitting comparison), twinkly keyboard melodies, sweeping violin (switching easily from imitations of Bach to folk) and bursts of trumpet fanfares, it makes for an interesting and often beautiful blend.

They’re also clearly a tight band, the hymnal cadences which close a number of their songs are sung in perfect harmony and their interaction was plain to see, not just musically, the violinist and guitarist did a lovely unprompted sexy dance from opposite sides of the stage during one song. Beth waded straight in and set up an instant rapport with the crowd (Geordie charm – works every time) encouraging conversation, wild woops, yells and screams, and for the last song inviting the audience to dance on stage. For extra credit they played a request half the band couldn’t remember – without a glitch to be heard.

Comparisons abound, the cheeriness of an Elbow tune, the elegance of Laura Marling (most notable in their latest single Dodecahdron) Florence and the Machine with some Mumford & Sons thrown in. Ultimately, they write quirky pop tunes, all have flair on their instruments and create a vibrant live show keeping everyone cheery, industry and punters alike, judging by their rising popularity with both.

Words: Carmel Keogh    Images: Benjamin Paul

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