Review | Van Gosh at The Gaiety, Southsea: ' All done in the tradition of fine British eccentricity'

Even by the standards of a band who don’t take themselves entirely seriously, this was an entrance that rivalled that of the mighty Spinal Tap.

Friday, 9th July 2021, 5:26 pm
Van Gosh live at The Gaiety, Southsea on July 8, 2021. Picture by Chris Broom
Van Gosh live at The Gaiety, Southsea on July 8, 2021. Picture by Chris Broom

One by one, the three members of Van Gosh take turns to make their entrance by emerging from a giant chrysalis, stage right.

However, when it comes to the drummer, he gets tangled up – intentionally or not – and has to fight to free himself.

When they can finally get themselves started, they of course, kick things off with Butterfly of Rock, from their debut EP, Wigs!

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Van Gosh live at The Gaiety, Southsea on July 8, 2021. picture by Chris Broom

Unfortunately, said EP came out the day before we went into national lockdown last March, so the band were unable to play any shows in support of its launch.

And so, this, only the band’s third gig, is also their first ever headlining performance.

However, frontman Rich Keam, sorry – Richie Van Gosh – is a man untroubled by such trifles as doubts, or indeed, a sense of shame.

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The band are pioneers in the newly coined field of prop-rock – hard-rock unafraid to embrace the truly daft with its love of accessorising and a series of increasingly bizarre accoutrements.

And so there’s a guest appearance by Jackson, Rich’s pet ‘dog’, during Dog Talk. And by dog, we mean a borderline terrifying stuffed animal with ‘overactive saliva glands’ which Rich takes on walkabout in the audience, spraying us with what we can only hope is water.

Or there’s the ode to Rich’s favourite forks – complete with a suitcase packed with various types of forks which our host identifies for us.

Or Workout – how the lockdown workout hasn’t been, err, working out. For its big finale the frontman brings out a set of oversized comedy dumbbells which he attempts to lift, cheered on by the audience.

Daft as all this may be, musically there’s no messing about. Sound-wise, we’re in the classic power-trio mould – think Cream, think The Jimi Hendrix Experience – they’ve definitely got the musical chops.

Bassist Tim Cole and drummer Maff Allen may be mostly there as foils to Rich’s craziness, but it wouldn’t work if they didn’t embrace it just as heartily as he does.

Oh, and let’s not forget the encore where they all return sporting giant foam heads…

Sometimes with bands like this, it looks like more fun is being had on stage than by the audience. But I know I laughed heartily throughout, and I certainly wasn’t alone.

It’s all done in the tradition of fine British eccentricity with a hefty dollop of the surreal.

So yes, funny, and with tunes that could end up as proper earworms too.

Next up, they’re supporting The B of The Bang on July 24 at The Wedge – and they’re very much worth getting there early for.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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