Little Barrie at The Barn, Milton REVIEW: 'It’s a powerful display from start to finish'

Little Barrie in action at The Barn, Milton, on September 21. Picture by Paul Windsor
Little Barrie in action at The Barn, Milton, on September 21. Picture by Paul Windsor
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This is actually the second time in less than a fortnight that Barrie Cadogan has graced a stage in the city.

Just 11 days earlier he was at The Wedgewood Rooms, lending his formidable skills to Edwyn Collins’ band. 

But with that tour now wrapped, the guitarist has returned to front his own band, Little Barrie.

READ MORE: Our review of Edwyn Collins at The Wedge

This, however, is no routine show. 

Back in September 2017, the day before the trio were due to head out on tour for their newly released fifth album, Death Express, drummer Virgil Howe died of a heart attack. All Little Barrie activity was understandably immediately shelved.

Two years down the line, Barrie and bassist Lewis Wharton have regrouped – and picked Portsmouth (Lewis is from here) for their return to live action.

READ MORE: Barrie Cadogan talks to The Guide about their comeback

The obvious question was who would take the drum stool? Barrie, a man of few words between songs, introduces him four songs in with a simple: ‘Tony Coote on drums.’

Coote comes with a fine pedigree – he has worked with Paul Weller, PP Arnold and Ocean Colour Scene among many others.

They may not be much for between-song banter, but the music is more than capable of speaking for them.

Because the band never played around Death Express’s release, this is the first time some of these songs have been played live.

In a clear statement of intent, they open with three songs from the album: Molotov Cop, an apt You Won’t Stop Us, and a jaw-dropping I5CA, with its stuttering riff which builds to a psychedelic wig-out, and the rest of the set is liberally sprinkled with numbers from the 19-track opus.

The sold-out crowd greets them all like old friends.

To describe the music itself as simply garage-rock would do it a disservice – there’s a soulful edge to some, a little funk here, the driving rhythms of krautrock there.

It’s easy to see why Cadogan is such an in-demand player for other acts - his mercurial style sees him pack more ideas into single songs than some put in whole albums. And yet, it never seems like being flashy or unnecessary. 

He also knows when to ease back and let Wharton and Coote have their moments.

Despite the two year break, there are no signs of rust, it’s a powerful display from start to finish.

Here's hoping this is the start of a resurgent Little Barrie.

Before Little Barrie take to the stage though, Portsmouth’s own The Rems provide top-drawer support. And bassist Steve Duffield's daughter Mildred makes her debut playing keys on a couple of tracks – on her 16th birthday, no less.

These former Mild Mannered Janitors promise to release new music soon, and if it can match their live energy, we will be in for a treat.