As Deaf School play a storming winter party gig at the Invisible Wind Factory, Getintothis’ Daniel Bundy was watching Liverpool’s art rockers do their thing.
Among drop offs and depots in the rain-sodden docks of Liverpool, taxis sloshed through gutters and a queue about a quarter mile long formed outside an unremarkable industrial facility. Why? Deaf School were home, back in Liverpool to prove that style truly has no shelf life.
The inside of the Invisible Wind Factor paints a different picture to the one outside. Lavender lights cast over a cross-generation crowd, amber orbs hang from the ceiling, a true cabaret light set from start to finish. Filled from front to back, up the stairs and along the catwalks, hype was palpable for a band described as the second most important from Liverpool, but Deaf School weren’t alone.
They brought talented friends in the form of Henry Priestman and Les Glover for a short set to kick off the night.
“We haven’t got much time,” said Henry. “Yeah. We’ve got maybe five, ten good years left.”
Armed with a guitar, banjo and later a tambourine player named Sarah Wright, Henry and Les filled their forty fives minutes with banter, observations and a cross-section of folk rock, protest, even a good ol’ sea shanty in “The Ghosts Of A Thousand Fisherman“. They sounded great, crisp and clear. Really set the stage nicely.
Then, Henry posed a big question for the room. “Is it just me or has the world gone to pot since David Bowie?”
The room roared a universal agreement so Henry, Les and Sarah set the world to rights with “Not In My Name“, a catchy shout back decrying selling off pensions, bailing out bankers and other missteps by the political establishment. Definitely worth a listen.
Then, when time was up they graciously gave way for a short break followed by Deaf School.
How do you explain the on-stage impact of a group like Deaf School?
This is a band that’s been going since the 70’s and yet the folks in the crowd, no matter how young or old, could recite every word to every song. For the hour plus they played, they refused to let the energy up for a moment and proved their ability to entertain, groove and bring a venue to life, getting the shoulders shaking of people pushing seventy.
They played new material. The crowd adored it. A few classics here and there.
Exactly the same. Come curtain call, the crowd would’ve killed for an encore. Deaf School gave them two, with screams for more even as they departed for the final time.
So how does a band like Deaf School achieve such cult devotion and adoration, even after all this time?
Beyond being endlessly fun and catchy, the answer may lie in that all parts of the band have distinct personalities. Whether it be Enrico Cadillac Jr., slick hair and trench coat like a Hollywood detective, Bette Bright with her dazzling silver suit, or the good green reverend Rev. Max Ripple, none of the line-up allow themselves to fade into the background.
Cabaret, punk and rock mashed together only comes from eccentric human collaboration and when you stray so far from the norm and give so much confidence to it, it’s a natural hook with those who can appreciate it, creating a following who love it from the first note right until the last show they see.
Images by Getintothis’ Warren Millar