The Coracle - I've got to be honest - is not a pub I frequent.
There is a very good reason for this. The Coracle is as far away from our house as it's possible for a pub to be whilst still being within Shrewsbury's town boundary.
And the notion of being in a pub all evening and not being able to have a beer or two, well… it's not normally an idea that fills me with joy.
That's why I much prefer pubs within walking distance. I can leave the car at home and I can enjoy a couple of drinks.
Anyway, when the mother of my best friend rang me the other day and invited me to The Coracle to see her younger son’s band (that is to say: my best friend’s brother’s band), I could hardly refuse.
They call themselves Scarlet Twenty and their own Facebook page describes them as: 'Lively duo featuring music from The Ramones to The Killers with a bit of comedy thrown in too. Expect the unexpected from this brilliant band.’
Note those words: Expect the unexpected.
Frankly, I really didn’t know what to expect. But, if I’m honest, my expectations were not especially high. I’m not sure that I can quite explain that last sentence, suffice to say I have only ever known Russell Parry (stage name Chaz - vocal and keyboards) as my mate’s unassuming, quietly-spoken brother. He has something to do with the ice-cream industry. And he’s also written a book recently about the Appley Bridge meteorite, a chunk of rock that fell from the heavens and landed in Lancashire in 1914. He’s married and he has a son, and that’s pretty much all I know about Russell.
And his musical partner - Twig (vocals and guitar) - I didn't know at all.
So, yeah, I suppose I had no option but to expect the unexpected.
And so the lights dimmed at The Coracle, stage lighting provided a smidgen of atmosphere, and the leather-jacketed middle-aged two-piece that is Scarlet Twenty burst into action.
Okay, yes, they are a band heavily reliant upon pre-recorded backing tracks, but, hey, guess what - Scarlet Twenty turn out to be extremely entertaining.
Somewhere beneath all the bluster, there’s real musicianship, and a real determination to give the audience a great time.
Highlights included their energetic version of The Killers’ hit, Human, What A Wonderful World (needless to say, the Joey Ramone punk arrangement rather than Louis Armstrong’s version), and Tell Him (a hit for The Exciters in 1962). These put a lot of smiles on a lot of faces.
It seems Russ (or Chaz) and Twig hadn’t played together in a long time. So yeah, they were rough around the edges, but, as I say, they were terrific good fun. They are a fantastic advertisement for big-hearted amateur rock ’n’ roll.
The main act of the evening turned out to be The Shamones, a tribute to New York punk band, The Ramones. This formidable three-piece is a proper band. Featuring ex-Damned bassist Bryn Merrick, The Shamones are just fabulous, and - if this sort of music is your scene - I recommend them unreservedly.
So, all in all, this was an excellent evening and spoke volumes about the musical talent that lies at the other end of the spectrum from stadium rock and the charts, shedding light on the enthusiasm and hard work of people driven primarily by the love of music.