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Hooked on Hebden...

I managed to get away from work on time as I had things to do in the evening.

It was raining, a miserable evening, but the teatime traffic was not too bad, so I managed to make reasonable progress up the Tame Valley. I drove up through Mossley, and then as I climbed up Quick Road to Lydgate, it began to sleet. By the time I got to Delph, there was more snow in the mix, and as I approached Denshaw, it was all snow. I turned right towards the M62, and whilst there was snow on the road, the car was coping fine. However, as I got past the Ram's Head, I came across a BMW in front of me who was clearly struggling. I had to slow down behind him, losing my traction in the process, and then it was slow progress as we slowly slipped, slided, and snaked our way up to the top of the hill, finally reaching the sanctuary of the M62, where the traffic was flowing as normal. However, as a result of the extra half hour the journey took me, my plans to grab a bite to eat before I went out had been scuppered!

A quick pint at the Commercial/Railway where a folk trio were just starting up, and then it was a slower than normal ride to Hebden Bridge as the train shuffled along in the gloomy weather. Arriving in Hebden, I made straight for Vocation and Co. It was pretty busy, with a warm and friendly atmosphere as a complete contrast to the murk outside. I bought a pint of Happy Chappy from Cromarty Brewery, which was very nice. I remembered the last time I drunk it was in Hebden Bridge, at the former Nido's cafe bar. I needed to get some cash, and on the way I checked into the Trades Club to check out the timings. Hookworms were due on at 9.40, so I still had time for another pint or two in the town.

My next port of call was Drink! which was pretty busy as it always seems to be these days. I had a look at the pretty impressive selection of cans and bottles on the shelves of the shop area, and bought a can of Yammerhouse, a 4.5% American Pale Ale from Northern Whisper, based over the hill in Rossendale, which ironically I had first tried on draught here. I had a good natter with Alex from Vocation Brewery, who I saw here last time, about the fortunes of our respective football teams, Burnley and Halifax Town.

I then went to Calan's as my last port of call before I went to the Trades Club. There was the usual warm atmosphere, it wasn't too busy, and - as I still hadn't had anything to eat - I was pleased to see complimentary pies(from the excellent Broster Farm near Golcar) and Stoodley Swirls(a local delicacy which is a delicious cold pizza-type snack) on the bar. So that was tea sorted, then. There were a couple of beers I hadn't tried before including one from the Doghouse Brewery in Darwen, which was very nice although a few days on I can't remember which one it was! As you may know, Calan's is currently up for sale, but there was no let up in the quality of the beer and service. Janet, who had worked there from the start has now left, but Stacey is still there, and also working there was Nadine, who ran Nido's as mentioned earlier! Small world. I had a lovely hour or so there before moving across the road for the music.

One of the most frustrating things about visiting the Trades Club over the years has been that I have usually been driving and have therefore not been able to take advantage of the real ale they have on offer. Having said that, generally when the music's on I am not bothered anyway. However, despite the freedom of not driving, I reverted to type and just had a pint whilst I was there! There are usually 3 handpumps dispensing real ale, with a bar serving the music room(which usually shuts when the music starts), and another one serving the smaller lounge bar. Prices overall are reasonable, but if you join the club there are discounts available at what is one of the top independent music venues in the country.

I got my pint and then headed into the music room just as the support act was finishing. I made my way to the front and found a spot on the left side of the stage. After a quarter of an hour or so, the band started to appear one by one and take up their positions. A few familiar clanks and electronic burps and gurgles started up, and Hookworms were off, opening with their brilliant new single 'Negative Space', which in my opinion is one of the best tunes released this year. Following its six minute excellence, the band maintained this for the next hour with some excellent spacey psychedelic rock, carrying us all along on a wave of exhilaration. The feet were tapping as our hearts were soaring. Hookworms, who are mainly from Leeds but apparently have links with West Vale near Elland, are a fantastic live act featuring a host of keyboards at their heart, but maintained an aura of mystique with no words spoken to the crowd during the gig. This extends when you check them out online with the band members only being referred to by their initials. If you get the chance to see them, go for it. The Trades Club wasn't quite sold out, but some of the other venues on their current tour are. The new album 'Microshift' comes out in February, and based on this evening, I expect it to raise the band's profile significantly.

My ears were ringing as I left the Trades Club and set off for the station, having had a great evening. All the stress from earlier had gone, and with some excellent beer in some friendly locations, followed by some top music, it is not surprising that I am hooked on Hebden....

Negative Space, positive vibes - Hookworms at the Trades Club





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