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A Night in Bury with O'Hooley & Tidow

Went to Bury a few days ago. Famous for black puddings and its market, it also houses a great local concert hall, the Met. My reason to be there - the chance to see rising Huddersfield folk stars, Belinda O'Hooley and Heidi Tidow on the tour to launch their excellent album 'The Hum'.

Checked in to the Premier Inn - minutes from the town centre - and headed out for some pre-gig food. Within minutes I came across the Art House. What a place, a lovingly restored art-deco cinema now part of the Wetherspoon empire. Now I am not a fan of all of their properties, but this one is excellent, with balconies, velour curtains and bags of nostalgia.

Thursday night, Curry Club, so opted for the Flaming Dragon(the one with 5 chilli symbols) with free pint for £5.99. It hit the spot, so fed and watered I headed a few minutes round the corner to the venue.

The Met is a classic local town theatre and concert venue, the sort we need to support. A great benefit of the Met is its Good Beer Guide bar, the Automatic. Whilst I had been there before, I appreciated it far more this time. 4 different real ales, including house beer Silver Fox(brewed by Outstanding) and ale from the Silver Street Brewing Company(new to me on the night, but brewing at the Clarence in Bury - looks like I'll have to check it out). 

A couple of pints, then into the gig. It was held in the smaller of the two rooms. This is an intimate, plush venue with around 80 seats including tables at the front, with a small stage, and a great setting for what followed.

Belinda and Heidi duly emerged and immediately launched into the title track of their new album, 'The Hum'. This tells the tale of a couple who decide they don't want to buy a house because of its proximity to a factory, and the noise it emits. The couple - Jennifer and Wayne - miss the fact that we need the sounds of industry as it means people are working.

From there on in, we were mesmerised. Two exceptional musicians, with Belinda's outstanding keyboard work, entwined by excellent singing from both. We were taken through a fantastic set of great songs on vastly varied themes, far removed from the traditional popular view of folk music but yet which reflect the world around us. These included real ale (Summat's Brewin'), suicide bombers (Peculiar Brood), adoption (Two Mothers), emigration (Come down from the Moor), even Russian punk protestors Pussy Riot (Coil and Spring). And that's just from the new album, which I have to say is my favourite of 2014 so far.

Try to catch O'Hooley and Tidow on tour, you will not be disappointed. Visit ohooleyandtidow.com for more information. 

A couple more pints after the gig, at the other, more standard Wetherspoons, the Robert Peel, then back to the Art House before returning to the hotel.

The following morning I wandered into Bury seeking cheaper food than at the Premier Inn, and guess what, it was back to the Art House for a Wetherspoons breakfast. I then wandered round the town and famous market for a while in the sunshine, picked up a few bits and pieces, including the obligatory black pudding!

I have to say I like Bury. It is a friendly place, and whilst close to Manchester it has its own character and feels like its own entity. And with a great venue like the Met and pubs like the Art House and Automatic, plus the promise of the Clarence and Silver Street Brewery, I will be back soon.

And here's 'Summat Brewin', which quite rightly is becoming something of a classic with loads of airplay....






And this is 'Gentleman Jack', from the previous O&T album 'The Fragile'....








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