Opening their homecoming gig at Nottingham’s Rock City on the last leg of their UK tour, the six man folk band and their joy-filled audience were in high spirits. The reason why wasn’t hard to discern – they’d sold out the venue, a feat unheard of for an unsigned band and were celebrating a series of resounding successes from supporting one of their musical heroes – The Levellers – to an invitation to play at Glastonbury.
Now the Mansfield-hailing musicians were back on home ground with their soon to be released second album From Without, bringing with them more raucous folk-punk undertones and chunky, driven riffs, remaining ever faithful to their idiosyncratic feel-good style. What was immediately obvious about Ferocious Dog was their dedication to their fans; despite suffering with laryngitis, frontman Ken Bonsall kicked off their set with unforgiving gusto, greeting his diverse and excited crowd like the old friends they were.
“Just like that, Rock City was brought to life with all-stomping, all- clapping lovers of punk, folk and ska”
Launching into classics from their debut album, Ferocious Dog, like folky and feisty instrumental ‘Lee’s Tune’ – it was clear this band knew how to get their crowd jumping from the get-go. Just like that, Rock City was brought to life with all-stomping, all- clapping lovers of punk, folk and ska, united by this humble, home-spun band who wanted to celebrate with those who had appreciated their unique sound first.
The respect Ferocious Dog garner, especially from this familiar crowd, was moving to be a part of. Soon the electric atmosphere turned sober as Bonsall dedicated ‘The Glass’ to his late son and servicemen affected by PTSD. The resounding ovation this received was indicative of the raw power of the band’s musical message. Despite its reflective lyrics, this tune was a favourite with the crowd, and as with most of their material, comes to a foot-stomping bass-fuelled climax – as I had now come to expect with Ferocious Dog, this too was an opportunity for celebration, this time the lives of those lost.
Throughout their own technically brilliant performance the band supported local artists. These raucous collaborations were a testament to the band’s dynamism and ability to create powerful fusions in their music that make you proud to be part of dancing sea you will inevitability be surrounded by at their gigs. They supported Bru-C’s gritty sound with ease and equally highlighted their own feel-good style once again with Irish dancers performing Lyla; continuously proving themselves effortless masters of varied, tremendous, performance which exuded unstoppable vitality.
All of this, and they had barely promoted their new album, From Without – for Ferocious Dog the music comes before everything else. Commercial musicality just isn’t in this bands vocabulary – From Without isn’t contrived to appeal to the mainstream, rather it is formed out of the necessity of evocative story telling.
“It is simply impossible to be stationary at a Ferocious Dog gig – if you join their growing mass of supporters you will not only dance; you will shank, sweat and roar in appreciation”
The performance of ‘Ruby Bridges’, their new single which discusses the 1960s civil rights movement, was roaring and brilliant – the first few seconds of guitar ease you in gently, and then textured vocals and a hubbub of fiddles, drums and jam-packed riffs ignited the audience’s frantic jigs. In a similar, reflective vein, ‘Slow Motion Suicide’, also a new addition to their hotly received encore, discusses the very present dangers of alcoholism.
Ferocious Dog’s new offerings are story telling super-charged. Both new singles were sung back to the group as if old favourites as they retain the jovial feel that underpins the group’s appeal. It is simply impossible to be stationary at a Ferocious Dog gig – if you join their growing mass of supporters you will not only dance; you will shank, sweat and roar in appreciation.