Louis Barabbas and the Bedlam Six: Manchester – live review

louis barrabas

Louis Barabbas and the Bedlam Six
Manchester Dancehouse
Feb 2013
Live Review

Frankly this is all rather mental.

There’s a lot of people on the stage looking like a Victorian freak show crossed with Frank Zappa’s Mothers Of Invention and they are doing the whole bonkers thing. They term their music ‘dirt- swing’ and live up to its every syllable with songs that energetically stomp into unexpected directions and are delivered with a fierce intelligence and quite brilliant musicianship.

Beldam was a Victorian term for madness and the band certainly whip up this old meaning of the word with a set that is eye bulging, goofily unhinged and quite brilliant in its musicality and songs.


The Manchester based band are like nothing else in the city, and to be honest not like anything else anywhere and their mash of ragtime, polka folk with a twitching punkish energy and a high IQ fierce intelligence is compulsive and hypnotic stuff.

Frontman Louis used to have a really long beard- like a garden gnome type of beard that he cut off in a video and sold on the internet. He now looks almost normal until he plugs in and that electricity does something to him as he dances like a charismatic, eye bulging shaman around the stage- one part clown, one part genus in the best possible way. He delvers the frantic songs that sound like they could have been written any time in the last three centuries with an intensity and twitching nervousness that only adds to their sharpness and focus.

The Dancehouse theatre is perfect for these shenanigans with its steep bank of seats packed with more than 400 people in for this best kept secret in the city. The theatrical element of the band is underlined in these surroundings and when they enter the stage its through specially constructed doors- a brilliant start to a wilfully eccentric and quite brilliant set that is brilliant in its originality.



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