Van Gosh hitting that sweet spot where ‘Harry Hill meets Led Zeppelin' at The Gaiety, Southsea

The Guide receives a great many press releases. Some good, some bad, but none like one that recently passed over our desk.

Friday, 2nd July 2021, 10:06 am
Portsmouth-based trio Van Gosh, fronted by Rich Keam, play their debut headline show at The Gaiety, Southsea on July 8

Sent as a good old fashioned letter, it read: ‘Whilst half-nakedly cavorting round my chicken farm, cooing and whispering sweet nothings into their strange chicken ears, I thought of you. While performing their daily milking, you were emblazoned across my mind...’

Yes, it is the return of Van Gosh, Portsmouth’s premier exponents of prop-rock – leaders in a field of one.

With the trio’s plans for world domination curtailed by the pandemic, they will finally be playing their debut headline gig next week.

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Portsmouth-based oddball rock trio Van Gosh play their debut headline show at The Gaiety, Southsea on July 8

With only two shows under their belts (at Victorious Festival and supporting The Southsea Alternative Choir at their Christmas show, both back in 2019), they’ve decided to step up.

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When we call frontman Rich Keam, he starts with a clarification: ‘I only have two chickens really – not a whole farm. One’s called Chickaletta and one’s called Karate.’

The band’s debut EP, Wigs was released last spring.

‘We finished recording that on the Sunday and we went into national lockdown on the Monday,’ Rich recalls. ‘It put the kibosh on everything.

‘Over that year, I hardly picked up the guitar.

‘We've got an eight and a six-year-old and my wife was working, and I just home-schooled the kids, so all my energy was focused on that. It wasn't proper lessons – it was Greco-Roman wrestling and guitar solos, so they're both really good at those...

‘It's only at the beginning of this year that I picked up the guitar again.

‘Loads of stuff has come out and it's been really good. We've been able to rehearse again, and I've made loads of stupid props – I've gone over the top.’

Anyone who has seen Van Gosh couldn’t miss the props – a giant papier-mache head, full-on wings, and oh yes, a mince pie cannon. The latter has since been repurposed.

‘I use it now in the garden with the kids – if they have friends round, they’ll ask if we can get the mince pie cannon out? And I fire sweets at them, so it's got a lovely second life.’

What can he tell us about the props this time?

‘There's just lots of other bits and bobs, but I don't think I can really tell you anything at this stage.

‘I've definitely got some Spinal Tap elements in this show because it's our first headline show.

‘And the stage at The Gaiety is massive, and we can do what we want, which opens up all sorts of different possibilities, which I really like.’

But there may be a guest appearance from his dog – Jackson – for new song Dog Talk.

‘I can actually communicate with dogs, not all animals –I'm not Dr Dolittle! So I will probably be bringing my dog Jackson along.

‘We've been working on a little skit together and he's going to be performing with me at some point. It's not like Pudsey on Britain’s Got Talent – it's nothing like that. But if he's all well and good, he'll be coming along.’

And there is a new EP, Pat’s Croissant, due later this summer, which is inspired by a real-life incident.

‘It’s actually about a guy at work called Pat, and you weren't allowed to touch his croissant, that's where it originated from. It's kind of Blockheads-inspired, they're such a fantastic band and it's got that kind of groove.’

Promising a live show delivered at ‘73mph’ Rich adds: ‘It's high energy – high-octane, it's Harry Hill meets Led Zeppelin, it's rock'n'roll, it's good fun, and I think it's what people need at the moment.

‘I'm thankful to Nick (Courtney), the promoter at The Gaiety, they've put on such a good deal for performers to actually be able to play and build an audience, so I want to put on a good show to help bring live music back to Southsea and Portsmouth again.’

Later in the month they will be playing at the Wedgewood Rooms, supporting The B of The Bang at their reunion show in aid of friend Jody Sexton who is fighting a brain tumour.

Rich adds: ‘I know this at The Gaiety is the headline show for us, but that is the important one because it's all for Jody.

‘So why don't you come and see us twice? It's going to be some show, I'm looking forward to it.

‘I reckon for The Gaiety gig, we'll have enough energy for everyone, and then by the time of The Wedge gig, hopefully all the restrictions will be lifted, so everyone can just have a good time.’

The Gaiety, Southsea

Thursday, July 8

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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