My first gig of 2017 was at The Glebe, watching Nixon Tate & The Honey Club release their long-awaited six-track EP ‘Roses & Bones’. Over the course of 2016, NTHC have drip fed listeners with a brand new single every few months, before eventually compiling all of them onto an EP.
Opening up the night, was ‘Roses & Bones’ producer and fellow musician TWEM (Thomas Twemlow). Playing a solo acoustic set of originals, TWEM appeared less confident as I’d imagined him to be. His track ‘Bottletops’ was one of the catchiest of 2016 and one that I’d had on repeat throughout most of the year. As disappointed as I was that he didn’t include this on his set at The Glebe, TWEM’s music resonated deep within and being in that room felt somewhat magical. His sensitive lyrics stuck to the walls of my mind, whilst his humble nature and kind personality made him likeable and approachable. His set was thoroughly enjoyable and Thomas Twemlow is definitely a musician I’d like to hear more of.
Megan Dixon-Hood was the second and final support for the night, playing solo without the usual accompaniment of her band. Having never heard MDH perform alone, I was interested to see if she could still perform to her usual hair raising standard. Her ethereal vocals and haunting piano melodies took over the entire pub and instantly hushed the crowd before her, as though they were caught in a trance. It’s safe to say that Megan Dixon-Hood can hold her own and bring it when it’s required, as she played through her set of spine-tingling original tracks including recent single ‘With Time’, which received the biggest applause. Throwing in a cover of Joni Mitchell’s ‘A Case Of You’, Megan Dixon-Hood grasped the night with both hands and delivered one of the strongest solo performances I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing.
With CD’s and badges perched on top of the hearth and standing space beginning to become harder to find, Nixon Tate & The Honey Club took their places in front of their bustling crowd. Amongst listeners were a number of fellow local musicians, including all three members of The Kings Pistol, Bob Moston (Merrym’n) and James Biddulph Jnr (The Red Kites), as well local music figurehead Lee Barber. It’s always wonderful to see people supporting their local music scene, but even more of a sight to see local musicians supporting each other, something Stoke’s scene does so well.
Opening their set with ‘Grubby Kids’, NTHC instantly appeared to be on form. After months (possibly years) of performing these songs, front man NT could finally release them out into the world in a physical format. It was obvious that the band were keen to play their newer tracks, with ‘Porch Light’, ‘Never Be A Boy’ and ‘Drifting’ appearing higher on the set list than any of those featured on ‘Roses & Bones’. Before long however, the familiar chords of ‘All Over Now’ rang out across The Glebe and the crowd couldn’t help but dance to its plodding drum beat. That was shortly followed by ‘Heady Redwood Days’, ‘Dancehall Blues’ and the mighty ‘Honeytrap’. They took hold of the night in a way I’ve never witnessed before, with a confidence that’s only noticeable in bands who are as skilled as they are. As NTHC performed the final songs of their set, ‘Won’t Let You Down’ and heartstring tugger ‘Joyce’, NT paused briefly before the band’s final song to thank the three men that accompany him on stage at every gig; drummer Tom Bishop, bassist Tom Ray and guitarist Joe Richards, as well as producer and friend Thomas Twemlow. It appeared that a great weight had been lifted from his shoulders and the band could now look forward to their next chapter, as Nixon Tate & The Honey Club. Concluding their set with ‘Wolf & Crane’ NTHC left in high spirits, with the raucous applause of the crowd ringing in their ears.
As a four-piece, Nixon Tate & The Honey Club are an example of what it’s like to be on top of your game. It may have only been a small pub in Stoke-on-Trent, but they tore down the walls of that place, with their tight tracks and earth-shatteringly good melodies. They may be ready to move on from ‘Roses & Bones’, but we’re certainly not ready to forget the music. Wherever they go from here, they should know that they’re a credit to the local music scene and it would be a much sadder place, if their music wasn’t in our lives.