The Hackney Colliery Band w/ Too Many T’s: London – live review


The Hackney Colliery Band
Too Many T’s
The Attic, London
31st Jan. 2013

Keith Goldhanger once again finds himself at an interesting venue for an interesting gig, this time with rap meeting brass and a bike borrowing good Samaritan coming to the rescue.

“The Attic” is what it says on the posters; A long thin room about five floors up from street level that causes smokers to crave another fix as soon as they return to the venue from that smokey smelly cordoned off piece of pavement outside the Cinema entrance where people stand, popcorn in one hand, fag in the other, beer on the window ledge and film guide sticking out from their back pockets.

We’re here this evening to listen to “The curious tones of a cornet clarinet and big trombone,” as the great man once said…but maybe not tonight. Half way through the evening it was established that a trombone, that was connected to the saxophone, which was connected to the trumpet that was connected to the promoter who had left it on the kitchen table that wriggled and tickled inside her…was missing.

A call goes out along the lines of, “I know this is a long shot… (never a good way to start a public announcement)…but does anyone live local and own a trombone we can borrow?” One man, one very over enthusiastic man, raises his hand and just as he realises what he has done, tries to get out of the situation by saying, “Well…only if you can lend me a bike,” and the next thing we know we’re looking about 80 feet down on to the street below, seeing a paying punter swerving the traffic on a mission to save the day on a borrowed bike, hanging on for dear life as a trombone flaps in the wind and scrapes the side of big red busses.

The day is saved.


It may be brass monkeys out there on this last day of January but it’s the dogs bollocks up here because the delightful duo, known to the south London Massive as Too Many T’s are here to keep us all entertained in the best way possible. No left at home instruments here as this duo make most of their noises from their saaarf larndarn gobs. There’s a table on the left with something on it. Probably a CD player or a sampler with knobs on or something that once or twice is tweaked pressed and pulled to liven up the proceedings. However the defining feature with this lot is definitely what their mouths are doing. Mouths…just like we all have. Except these mouths are making noises like drums and synths and the Beastie Boys. They also swear a lot. They also make us chuckle a lot. They take turns in talking, shouting and singing (rapping). They also know where to draw the line between being a band and being Morecombe and Wise.


These were chaps I met on a camping Holiday last year on the Isle of wight. The one where Stevie Wonder turned up and sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to me. Our tans have now disappeared but during the time in between these meetings, their name has been remembered, video’s watched and now seeing them live begs the same question I’ve been asking of many acts recently: “Why aren’t these boys household names?”

You get the feeling these two have done a lot of this nonsense during their young lives. They’re both tuned into each other, almost finishing each others sentences and being frankly terrific entertainment. They’ve also had the foresight to realise that if you happen to be in a room with a sousaphone there is one thing that just has to be done. Flat Eric.

The Hackney Colliery band hold events at this venue every 3rd Thursday of the month, except when there is a Y in the month, when it’s on the 4th Thursday if indeed a forth Thursday exists. I think they’re making it up, however it might be the alternate shift work that these hard working manual labourers are prone to. Actually that was just me making it up. It’s not the biggest event they’ve done either. They once had about 90,000 people turn up at a gig once. OK, the Spice Girls, and a couple of other artists played as well (in a field with a running track around it if my memory serves me right) and I believe it was filmed or something and it was broadcast on the telly last summer. They’ve had the same idea as me – they want to see Too Many T’s. So three cheers for the the Hackney Colliery Band who have also arranged for a brief collaboration – Two South London rappers and a brass band? Thank you very much sir, don’t mind if I do. Ant and Dec, you can fuck off now. I’ve found something a million times more talented and a billion times more interesting.

What we get with the Hackney Colliery band are a dozen or so tunes featuring the usual array of wind instruments that one would expect from a brass band, plus a couple of drummers that keep law and order amongst the dozen or so band members and give the hungry audience an excuse to stand up and stamp their feet. We get instrumentals we recognise, and instrumentals we think we recognise, and instrumentals we don’t recognise building up to a finale which includes all three of these descriptions in the form of a medley of songs by your favourites and mine, the Prodigy.

So now it all makes sense – lots of talented musicians with lots of big loud instruments and an excuse for a good night out celebrating a days graft downt’ pit, which of course doesn’t exist, like the Beach Boys didn’t surf and the Pigeon Detectives aren’t really wild birds, or detectives, but probably know how to get home every time they’re taken out in a big basket.

The Hackney Colliery Band have their “Prodigy Medley/Owl Sanctuary” single out now with an album due later this year. The also have a very nice website for you to check out.

Too Many T’s have a four track EP out in April and will probably be around at most of the festivals this summer. Follow them on Facebook and you will probably find out where they will be!

Words by Keith Goldhanger. More writing by Keith on Louder Than War can be found here.

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