East of Ealing at Bearded Theory Benefit gig SEP 26 City Club, Guildford
East of Ealing play a fun mix of roots rock fused with traditional brick built and foundry forged foundation folk.
Folk songs are commonly regarded as the songs that express something about a lifestyle that existed in the past or is about to disappear- but that sense of the melancholy does not dominate the music of EoE. Instead, their songs are a lot of fun and puns are in abundance, with musical interludes sometimes surprising the audience when they rise up without warning, like the musical equivalent of Pop-Tarts.
The band also remembers that traditional folk music is an experience shared across the world. So, like Druhá Trava or Béla Fleck and the Flecktones, East of Ealing provides lessons aplenty on the subject of how folk music has evolved into what we now consider to be popular music and how the traditions have merged, emerged and altered into the various distorted forms we now recognise, along the way.
They provide some interesting and unexpected variations, along this tortuous path, and their shared sense of fun is welcome, as is their undeniable virtuosity.
For example, in an imaginative and fun song ‘the Great Unknown’, Moorish influences prevail, but the melody just puffs along like a ska number with Balkan folk flourishes. And for those who did not know that punk rock is a direct descendant of folk music (and I’m not kidding) East of Ealing provides plenty of references to this musical criss- crossing from the reels, hornpipes and jigs of pure folk to the analytical and sparse punk melodies that can be heard in work by the early Pogues, and even The Clash
Along the way, there’s plenty of fun in the East of Ealing musical repertoire, with puns a-plenty and twinkle in-the-eye tongue-in-cheek antics, as we try to keep pace with the myriad of tiny musical one-liners and punch lines. But the substance of East of Ealing is dances, jigs and general merry-making. And the crowd at the City Club Guildford responded to the music with a hearty gusto …. reeling, jumping and dancing into the warm evening air.
There are large portions of Eastern European sounds in the EoE tunes- in particular in the single ‘Black Ship’, and these sounds cross-over to more traditional Romany music and then back to punk rock, like other brands of rebel music similar in style and heart to that of Gogol Bordello and DeVotchKa. Pre-Raphaelite beauty Stephanie Graffiti squeezes out some amazing sounds from her electric violin- from Pink Floyd-esque ‘synth’ lushness all the way through to Led Zeppelin-style screeching ‘guitar’ breaks.
Jim Bean provides most of the voice and the looks (if the whole Pirate Shipmate look is your bag, baby), with a neckerchief, hearty hat and superficial smile. He plays a beautiful acoustic bass and also employs, at times, an electric squeeze-box to give the sounds more depth of image. Paul Castleman on drums, cannot be ignored. Paul is a talented drummer with a superb sense of the mischievous. Mik P plays the electric and acoustic guitars and often provides the kind of rawness and energy that lifts East Of Ealing from their trad-folk roots and prods, pushes and squeezes their sounds towards more lofty rock horizons.
East of Ealing are folksters tinged with rocker irony like ‘The Knitters’ and rockers mixed with folksy irony like ‘Korpiklaani’. I like that. Get up and dance. Are we there yet?