Ducking Punches / The Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham | 18th of November

Ducking Punches / The Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham | 18th of November

Saturday night at Birmingham’s Sunflower Lounge, the place was buzzing upstairs with the people inside getting ready a night of partying. However, downstairs hosted an intimate gig with some the best acoustic acts touring at the moment in the form of Neil Brophy, We Bless This Mess (Nelson Graf Reis) and headline act Ducking Punches (Dan Allen).

The night started off with an empty room and local supports, quintet Mixtape Saints, who play the only full band performance of the night. They had a very unique sound with heavy nods to the likes of: Against Me!, The Menzingers, the Gaslight Anthem. This is a refreshing welcome to the scene as many bands in the area either fall into the pop punk or hardcore scene but this relatively young band are venturing for a alternative rock vibe laced with American punk. The room had filled up for their penultimate song in the shape of a cover by The Replacements which also encapsulates their sound.

The opening act for the tour comes on next, one man folk band Neil Brophy. A pub singer with some depth to his songs, but mainly a set made up of some socio-political themes along with some personal experiences. Summed in the songs One Man Folk Band and Record Collector, Brophy seemed to have an air of confidence and even graced Birmingham with a harmonica solo. An intimate set that felt perfect to set up the next act, We Bless This Mess, a more emotional acoustic act all the way from Portugal.

Lead Singer of We Bless This Mess, Nelson, had a more pensive and raw sound than Brophy. Nelson occasionally leaned back from the microphone to really let loose with his singing. An instantly likable character, Nelson kept the show feeling intimate and not losing the small crowd instead he had an anxious feel which only kept his sings interesting while having banter with the crowd. Darling was the standout track, Nelson cuts the guitar at the end and screams away from the microphone ‘And my breath is something conscious, That fires from inside’.

Finally, Dan Allen takes to stage in the act that the crowd are most familiar with, The Ducking Punches. The first songs of the set, Secrets and Cursed Luck kicks in the crowd are instantly hit with influences from Frank Turner and Billy Bragg. The guitar tech of the former, Allen brings a level of experience both technical and musical which is shown and heard in the fan favourite It’s Been a Bad Few Weeks. Allen has this raw and emotional quality to his singing which can only be fueled by cigarettes and beer (which you will know if you are an avid fan) and this really adds to the set.

Allen does touch upon some important issues during his set both in his songs and chatting to crowd in between songs. The song Wolf discusses sexual harassment at live shows, and the disgraceful behaviour of predators who hide behind ‘alcohol and drugs’. And quite a haunting reprise to finish with ‘they’ll be back for more’. The Ducking Punches also address suicide in Six Years which is the penultimate song of the night. The song is preluded by Allen pointing to some obvious problems amongst men and the effect of depression. Last song come in the form of Big Brown Pills From Lynn and has a great singalong feel with the crowd getting more involved than ever and ultimately ends with Allen in the crowd, singing amongst friends. A punk rock feel to a folk inspired set.


Set List:
Cursed Luck
It’s Been A Bad Few Weeks
Smoking Spot
Six Years
Big Brown Pills From Lynn

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