By Ed Sills
It’s almost 11 and The Convulsions’ front man Ben Ruth is teetering atop an adjacent table to my right, belting out the last few bars of Louie Louie whilst trying his hardest not to fall flat on his face. Ruth, having already leapfrogged from one table to the next, has an edgy look in his eye that leaves us thinking, maybe it’s time we moved our beer.
Roll back two hours and The Convulsions are unassumingly squeezing onto the stage of the George and Dragon.
The band’s style is a mix of early R & B, funk and soul that they label Mod Punk Boogaloo. Labels aside, the sound of the band is immediate and jaw dropping, you only had to look around at the audience to see their impact.
Playing on the night as a three piece The Convulsions were Ben Ruth on vocals, harmonica, and organ, Joe Cutler on bass and John Huck on the drums.
Forming the band originally in Chicago ex-pat Ruth eventually brought them back over to the North West of England.
They’re a sharply dressed lot, but despite looking like the Yardbirds their sound is one of funky swamp urgency.
On stage it’s Ruth’s performance that draws you in, it’s like he’s possessed with the jittery intensity of James Brown, Little Richard and Ian Curtis all at once.
He’s a screaming ball of energy. What’s great though is that between the frenzied vocals and the flailing showmanship Ruth comes across as exceptionally erudite and humble. It’s an interesting juxtaposition.
And in all honesty you are very unlikely to see a better harmonica player live.
As a unit they were incredibly tight, with the rhythm section fuelling all that energy up front. Cutler, in particular, played some of the fastest and funkiest bass lines I’ve seen in a long time. Highlight of the evening had to be when Ruth left the stage to run around the outside of the building during their funky, freaked out song Kow Tow; props to Huck and Cutler who ripped through serious solos as they waited for the singer to return.
I’d heard good things about the Friday night live music down at the George and Dragon and was not disappointed. There are acts playing all the way until the end of June and entry is free. With quality this high it seems almost criminal not having to pay. Get down if you can.