Record Overplayed
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Hope and Social | Hartlepool Nursery Inn | 24/10/09

Gig Review and Photos by Dawn

Hope and Social. If you don’t already know the name, here's a concise introduction: They're Leeds-based lads who, in previous incarnations, have always been a good, solid live act but who have now struck gold with both their songs and their onstage confidence – honed over their years of playing together - to make their performances pure perfection.

Tonight's show is no exception as the boys whirl their way through a rousing two hour set with no sign of them flagging, despite apparently all being full of cold. With no disrespect to the intimate venue, it feels almost wrong to be seated throughout such energetic showmanship. Certainly the music room at the Nursery Inn struggles to contain their effervescence and grandiose melodies, which is surely a sign that Hope and Social will soon be packing out much bigger venues on a regular basis.

The vocal harmonies from Simon and Rich are beautiful, a stunning contrast to the intensity of the melodies, while the Flamenco-esque handclaps and foot tapping of Living a Lie only add to the infectious joy generated by the band's performance. Frontman Simon sings "we could change the world tonight – take my hand and it’ll be all right" and thanks to their enthusiasm you really do believe that we could and that it will be.
For Red Red Rose, Rich leads the crowd in Radio Ga Ga style clapping as they sing along to the stirring chorus, all adding to the night's grin-inducing sense of fun. And all this before we've even mentioned the kazoos. Yes, kazoos.  Brilliantly euphoric EP track Buzzer Goes is usually complemented by a brass section, who Simon tells us "didn’t want to come to Hartlepool" – although we are then assured that was a lie. Instead, bassist Jason hands out plastic kazoos to everyone in the crowd, allowing us to recreate the brass melody in our own inimitable (and slightly tone deaf) fashion. The band seem suitably impressed, especially when they invite a handful of people onstage one by one to play solo. And, let's face it, who wouldn’t rather have a kazoo chorus than a brass section?

Overall it's an excellent evening filled with glorious entertainment and many laughs along the way, serving only to prove that, with their lustrous melodies and senses of humour, the boys in the blue blazers really do revel in the live spotlight. Hope and Socials's album, Architect of this Church, is being sold online and at gigs for "whatever you can afford", with the average punter spending around £7 of their hard-earned cash to own a copy. Perhaps an even better idea would be to do the same with live tickets - on tonight's evidence, a Hope and Social gig has got to be worth a hefty chunk of anyone's wages. Go along and join in the fun – you won’t regret it.

With thanks to Rich. Visit www.hopeandsocial.com for more information and to buy the album for however much you wish to spend.
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