Yes you read the venue name right, it was a rather strange one we found ourselves heading to and it was even harder to find after stomping up and down practically every street in Dewsbury. Venue located and ensconced in the nearby hostelry The Turks Head we met the local Yorkshire punk survivor group who were out for the night sporting jackets emblazoned with the likes of Subhumans, Exploited, Killing Joke and Spizz patches and paintings. It kind of made me feel at home. One of them was constantly shouting out ‘I’m alive’ at the top of his voice, much to the chagrin of our publican who looked at him with distaste and muttered the warning words, “you won’t be for much longer unless you fucking keep it down!”

Getting into the venue was a nice surprise. Not sure about actual squash but apparently it was a former swimming bath. The place was nicely decorated, intimate but well laid out and not claustrophobic and Bulmers was £2.20 a bottle! Ouch tomorrow is going to hurt.

First up on the small stage were the intriguingly entitled The Blind Dead McJones Band who thankfully did not ride in on skeleton horses and put us all to the sword. This was a mix of folk and blues with a story behind every song and was very entertaining with it. They looked as though they would have possibly been more at home playing a redneck wedding than a post punk / goth show and getting into the spirit of things it was tempting to throw a glass at the big bearded and grizzled singer, luckily we had been supplied plastic ones so there was very little point. The spirit of John Lee Hooker was all over numbers like ‘Haunted’ which had a nice groovy, greasy garage sound that rocked us admirably and got heads nodding and feet tapping along.

Next up were Lit Up who on first impression had me thinking they looked kind of in a rut and were going to clash with things if you know what I mean. “Fuck this motherfucker” came the unsubtle words from singer Bo Black’s mouth, well if that’s how you want to play it fair enough! I would have to be fair and say this was more fun than a totally professional act, we got Ramones like vocals a Captain Sensible hat and songs like Never Enough, which were all a bit of a parody as far as I was concerned and we were in Billy Idol territory as more and more boxes were ticked. Not sure what Lemmy and Mick would have thought of renditions of ‘Killed By Death’ and ‘Jumping Jack Flash’ I was not overly enamoured but what the hey, they kept us entertained at least.

I had expected and been warned that the venue might have been full of kids but thankfully it was not. It should certainly be mentioned that the night was all in aid of the Sophie Lancaster Charity (yes we had paid for our tickets) so it would have actually been nice to see it rammed to the rafters, but it was also nice to have a bit of space to see the headliners in such an intimate place too. Anne Marie Hurst is the former lead singer of The Skeletal Family and Ghost Dance. Reactivated after being away from the public eye for some time, the singer is back with brand new album ‘Day Of All Days,’ with the help of a couple of new band members as well as Stan Greenwood and Roger ‘Trotwood’ Nowell who were also previously in The Skeletal Family.

With dry ice and Spear Of Destiny blowing out the speakers we were eager for the group to make an appearance. I have personally seen Ghost Dance a fair few times in their glory days including a memorable last ever night of The Clarendon Ballroom in Hammersmith (RIP) as well as the reactivated band at The Scala more recently and was looking forward to this. I have not heard the new album yet but have an insight into it having been present for a couple of hours at the recording sessions and was looking forward to hearing songs from this and some old classics, which was exactly what we got.

With a burst of tribal drumming and some spindly guitar work which can only be described as skeletal the group were off with one of those classics ‘So Sure’ an early Family single taking us to the golden days of Goth way back in 1984. The sound was great, Trotwood’s bass was nice and thick and the guitars bolstered by new member Owen Richards contributions really cut through the mix. Anne Marie’s voice was as spot on as ever and shone through in all the right places even if I was slightly taken aback at the singer dressed in demure black and without the rather fetching boots and costuming she had worn at The Scala. For every song by one of her former bands they had to really keep the fans of the other happy, cue Ghost Dance classic ‘The Grip Of Love’ a firm favourite of mine. Then it was time for first of the new songs ‘Lost In Munich’ I guess a bit of an autobiographical ode and one that rocked away with plenty of adrenaline about it and illustrated that there are many great songs left to come from this band apart from the old ones.

The rest of the set naturally centred on the new ones and I remembered the couple I had caught them working on in Paul Weller’s Black Barn Studio. These included the poignant, touching and heartfelt ‘Your Eyes’ a song written in tribute to Anne Marie’s dead brother and ‘I Have Changed’ a self fulfilling number about enduring her own personal hardships. One thing that has been mentioned about the last couple of London shows is just how violent they were with the audience interaction. This always used to be the case back in the past but from what I heard it caught a few people out. There may not have been enough in here for full scale pit action but towards the end with songs like Ghosties ‘Last Train’ and Skellies ‘Promised Land’ it was impossible not to join in and it was fun and mayhem at the front.

Seemingly everyone enjoyed themselves, band and crowd alike, Anne Marie spent most of the time beaming with a big grin across her face and matey was ‘still alive’ at the end. As we went for our own last train it had been a good if not odd first show of the year, here’s to many more. Catch Anne Marie Hurst at the beginning of March on tour with The Eden House.