Billy The Kid & The Brothers Barbaylios - SRFF (02/08/2008)

Steven Storrie | Monday, 04 August 2008

Billy The Kid & The Brothers Barbaylios - SRFF (02/08/2008)

It's not easy coming from Middlesbrough when music is your life, but Billy The Kid And The Brothers Barbaylios are changing that. They look and sound amazing and have the kind of mysterious persona and enigmatic past that bands have sadly forgotten to create since Dylan and Bowie.

Armed with songs telling tales of gun slinging and lost loves, riding high and aching lows, the seven of them take to the stage like the quintessential last gang in town. Stockton is going to see a shootout. 'Gun' is a cinematic tune that could have been bred in the badlands of Dakota. It oozes a moody darkness in the verse, before the chorus rings in the strings and yearns for its protagonist to "run for your life/Before this bullet shoots you down". It could have been hackneyed, but they make it great.

'Down the Line' rattles with the sound of a steam train coming off its tracks. Billy and co try to persuade an enamoured girl they would really be better off as friends rather than "lovers 'til the end", before apologising. Guitarist Pad the Peg Barbaylios and mandolin man Spice E. Barbaylios duel over vocals at the mic like Lennon and McCartney. Spontaneous jigging breaks out across the field around me.

Without undue hyperbole, 'If I Was' is one of the best songs of the decade. It's an impossibly catchy tale of longing and regret. Billy moans: "If I was a painter I'd paint portraits of you/Hang them in the gallery like all good painters do" before sweeping into the amazing chorus with "but I wasted so much time writing songs and playing on my guitar/I wasted so much love/Now I wish I never learned to play a note." It's a privilege to see it performed as the sun dips slowly behind the stage.

The band close with 'Walk On', with its biting verse and huge chorus. The crowd greet its climax with a fitting round of applause and cheering as the band departs. If these guys don't make it big, then music is clearly redundant. Down by the river that night, we saw the future.

Rating: 5/5