LIVE REVIEW: The Bar Stool Preachers, Trillians, Newcastle, Tuesday, 17 September 2019

It takes a brave band or a very good one to start a gig with not one but two songs which the majority of the audience have probably never heard before.

The Bar Stool Preachers can take a bow on both counts, because that’s exactly what they did as they returned to a packed Trillians last night.

Newcastle is a place the Preachers love playing, and they regard it as a home from home when they’re on the road. And they’re on the road a lot. Their current UK dates follow hot on the heels of a run of American shows with The Bouncing Souls, Swingin’ Utters and The Bronx, and you can bet your bottom dollar they gave those illustrious bands a run for their money.

The Bar Stool Preachers playing at Trillians in Newcastle. Pic: Gary Welford.

The BSP, who were formed five years ago in Brighton, are all about community, social awareness, togetherness and challenging authority, and all those things were very much in evidence as they produced their usual high-octane show.

Their ska-infused street punk is guaranteed to help you forget your woes, lift your spirits, and make you feel like you’re part of something that’s really worthwhile. And tonight they were definitely preaching to the converted.

Frontman TJ McFaull is a bundle of energy, and makes every person who’s come to see his band feel welcome, whether it’s the first or 50th time they’ve seen them.

TJ McFaull of The Bar Stool Preachers at Trillians in Newcastle. Pic: Gary Welford.

New songs delivered, and duly appreciated, the Preachers slammed through a set which is still largely taken from their excellent debut album, 2016’s Blatant Propaganda.

The eagle-eyed will have noticed that for the first two numbers the six-piece were a man down, with guitarist James absent. But once the new stuff was out of the way they were joined by a guitarist from The Zipheads, whose name I didn’t catch, but he fitted in nicely.

The Bar Stool Preachers playing at Trillians in Newcastle. Pic: Gary Welford.

Old favourites like One Fool Down, Trickle Down, Start New and Clock Out, Tools Down saw the crowd singing back every word to the band, who were enjoying every minute of it.

Second album Grazie Governo saw the BSP take things up a notch with the backing of their excellent US label Pirates Press Records, and it provided a couple of the highlights here – 8.6 Days (All The Broken Hearts) and Don’t Let the Door Hit You On The Way Out, which are now firmly embedded in their set.

Gibbs of The Bar Stool Preachers playing at Trillians in Newcastle. Pic: Gary Welford.

Another new song, State Of Emergency, was wheeled out before the night was halfway through, and if it and the two other new tunes are anything to go by, album number three is shaping up to be an absolute belter.

The last time I saw The Bar Stool Preachers was on the main stage at Rebellion Festival at Blackpool in August, as they played to 3,000 people in the Empress Ballroom, but they put just as much into their performance here, in front of maybe 300 people

Birthday wishes were sent out to long-time fan Stephie, one of a handful of people who saw their first-ever North East gig, at the Black Bull in Gateshead, and, after crowd-surfing around the room, she ended up onstage with them to sing Choose Your Friends. A happy birthday indeed.

Happy birthday to Stephie as she joins The Bar Stool Preachers on stage at Trillians in Newcastle. Pic: Gary Welford.

Another oldie, Ballad Of The M1, was the highlight part of a three-song encore, before they ended in time-honoured fashion with their anthem, Bar Stool Preacher, and promised to come back soon. It can’t be soon enough, though – with no disrespect to Trillians – they deserve to be playing much bigger venues than this.

Gary Welford owner