|The Blubbery Hellbellies|
The Venue, Edinburgh
I saw The Blubbery Hellbellies during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August 1987, and one might be forgiven for thinking at the time, given the silly name, they were perhaps a bunch of Oxbridge arseholes performing some revue or other.
But not a bit of it. These guys were the real thing, purveying what was being called at the time Psychobilly – a sort of bastard son of punk and C&W, played at around 100 mph.
There were four Blubs, I seem to recall; three of them very (ahem) well nourished, sporting beer guts and impressive sideburns. The fourth Blub, a guitarist, was but a skinny runt of a chap in comparison. This individual, we were informed was an honorary Blubbery, having recently lost 10 stone in an unfortunate “gardening accident”.
The band, so I have learned since would play raucous cover versions of such tunes as Walk Tall and Champion the Wonder Horse, but I cannot truly remember if either of these two classics was aired. In fact the only song I do recall with any clarity was (what I took to be) a cover of Jerry Irby's Hillbilly Boogie, (inevitably rebranded as Hellbellie Boogie), which they played both early in the set and as a final encore. My assertion above was incorrect though - see Comments below.
Almost as entertaining as the band themselves were their hard core support; Psychobillies, I guess they were. Pretty much exclusively male, a number were impressively mohicaned. They had developed this unique method of dancing, I suppose to get round the connotations of males dancing with males. They would stand facing each other, feet never moving, and rapidly punch away at the space between them, rather in the manner of boxers hitting a punch ball. Often three, four or more of them would gather in a circle all flailing away. I don’t think they were hitting one another, but then perhaps they were and it was part of the fun.
I was genuinely disappointed when the gig ended and, over the following years would find myself occasionally glancing through each new Edinburgh Festival Fringe Programme hoping to see their name. But I never did, although I did discover on the web recently that The Blubbery Hellbellies are still going strong, popping up regularly on the festival circuit both in the UK and on the continent.