We first saw Holy Moly and the Crackers in 2015 at an afternoon summer Solstice session in a humid marquee at the much-missed Beverley Folk Festival.
Although it was only two in the afternoon, and we had yet to have our first pint of the day from the Wold Top Bar, we danced from the start, battling rather stompily with the damp grass, knowing we were experiencing something special.
For us, the discovery of a great new band that was right up our street – full of energy, personable, and just folky enough to warrant being at the gig. Later that evening we saw Ralph McTell, then Barbara Dickson on the same stage, but it was the first band of the day who made the biggest impact.
We have often reminisced about this first time, as the band appeared increasingly on festival line-ups, and we have strived to get a Holy Moly energy top up at least once a year, knowing we will never be disappointed.
We had already seen Holy Moly this year at Beardy Folk Festival in June, where they headlined Saturday night.
There the loyal crowd stayed up late to dance and sway in their bubbles, ignoring the pelting rain. We were delighted to get the chance to top up a second time, in the comfort of an indoor venue, practically on our doorstep.
Recently refurbished, and advertised as a community venue, Richmondshire Cricket Club is proving to be a lively hub in the middle of town, with the bonus of ample parking nearby.
Currently open to the public every evening, it’s also a great spot for private family occasions, such as weddings, christenings, and big birthdays. The venue also hosts a number of local groups and businesses who regularly hire rooms and make use of the other facilities.
Income from these and from the organised events, such as the one we attended, bring in funds that help support the running of the cricket club itself, which must be a good thing.
Although it was a dark October evening, the bar was buzzing when we got there, being clearly popular on the early Saturday night circuit.
To keep people going, food, provided by Hoodoo, looked to be a tasty mix of burgers, dogs and other street food, with plenty of veggie options.
Warming us up for the main act was local duo, Midnight Revelations. Rob and Amy Darcy are regulars at the acoustic sessions that have recently resumed at Tunstall Village Hall, where they play a mix of covers and self-penned songs.
It was both surprising and delightful to hear Amy sing, rather beautifully, a couple of Ruth Patterson’s solo numbers, which seemed to meet with approval from Ruth’s hubbie, Holy Moly’s Conrad, who had sat down to listen after working the room, seemingly giving everyone a personal welcome. It all added to the intimate feel of the night.
And so to Holy Moly. Our program from 2015 describes the band as “a lively mix of Romani, Americana and contemporary British folk-rock”. Six years on they are still very recognisable as the same band, but the sound now is heavier, more imaginative and much more assured. It is still very much a party vibe though; there are some great riffs and melodies. Even if you don’t know the tunes, you feel like you can still join in.
After an initial wobble, the sound was soon perfected, and we could hear really well, even if we couldn’t see much. A small stage would have been beneficial – but it’s a low-ceilinged room, so perhaps that’s not possible. The set list included numbers from all the albums, concentrating on those guaranteed to be crowd pleasers
That crowd, many of whom will have been introduced to the band at the last Richmond Live in 2019 were quickly into dance mode, filling the floor and cheerfully enjoying their “top up”. A few people we spoke to were new to the band, but there certainly was a following. You can measure the number of returners by how many people do that spirally thing with their arm during Bluebell Wood, and there were a lot. One couple had travelled up from Cleckheaton specially. Once a year clearly wasn’t enough for them.
All in all, a class act and a real treat for a dark evening.
The town as a whole is experiencing something of a revival as regards live music just now. On Saturday night, as well as our gig, the newly re-opened New Comrades Club was hosting blues and rock band Scruffy Bear, while there was also live music on in at least two of the town’s pubs. It’s all looking very promising and rather lifts the soul just now.
So far, the next music to note at the cricket club features Jon Sevink and Dan Donnelly from The Levellers who will be playing at the club on Saturday, February 12.
Tickets are £15 and can be purchased from www.wegottickets.com from this weekend.
Doors open at 6:30.