Booth (Vidal)-Hall

Steve IgnorantIt’s fair to say that Hereford has been crying out for an alternative, do-it-yourself music venue for years. Just over a year ago sister-and-brother team, Willow and Arran Vidal-Hall, moved up from Bristol and took over the Booth Hall.

In 12 months, with the help of other committed people, they have given the live music scene in Hereford a massive shot in the arm.

We sent our intrepid reporter Helen Heckler down to the Booth to catch up with Willow.

HH: How did you end up in Hereford?

WVH: Well to be honest the reason we came to Hereford was the Booth Hall. We had been thinking of starting an alternative venue for many years. We were just checking out possible options, I don’t know how serious we really were but then we drove up to Hereford to see the Booth and kind of just fell in love with the building. And in a moment of madness we just went for it.

How has the first year gone?

Hereford has been so welcoming to us, we feel so lucky. So many people have supported what we have tried to do, even from day one it always felt more like a community project. We had people offering to help with sound and light, come and help build the stage, put on events, decorate, promote and together with all these amazing people I feel like we really have done some amazing things.

We worked out that the Booth must have facilitated over 100 events last year. We just can’t believe it, there’s been an amazing breadth of entertainment and music from blues nights, to heavy punk, rock, metal, reggae, ska and everything else you can think of including circus, dance, theatre and comedy!

What are you plans for the year ahead?

We have amazing plans. We are committed to being open five days a week and we already have a nearly-full calendar of weekend events. To make Thursdays exciting we are offering slots to any charity that wants to run an event; the venue will be free, we will even offer £50 towards making the event happen, and they can take the money on the door.  We are also looking to support local bands and musicians to take events into their own hands. So anyone who wants to run a Thursday event should get in contact. We’re really excited about this as it offers live music more days a week while also supporting the community around us.

What have the highlights been so far?

We have so many amazing highlights from 2016, from small moments like Bekki Cameron playing the guitar and Kieran Graham playing the bagpipes at one of our first open mic nights, to massive moments like Hereford Pride, where we had hundreds of people coming through the gates in support of this amazing event. But overall I cannot express enough how lucky we feel to be here, to be part of this kooky and kind community in Hereford, and what an amazing year we have had.

GIG REVIEW: XSLF at The Victory, 3rd April

Wandering around the back of the pub while I stood and waited for the warm-up act was a man with no shoes on, manky white socks, shorts and a tshirt, who instantly reminded me of the cartoon character Beavis, only a middle-aged version.

© Steve Niblett

© Steve Niblett

I quickly realised he was the singer of the support band, Borrowed Time. The band went for it: the singer was constantly climbing the stairs next to the stage, hanging off the rope hand-rails and pulling his mic cable all over the place, nearly garrotting the guitarist. I could have done without seeing the singer’s dirty socks being thrown into the crowd however.

They played a self-titled song shouting “I’m on borrowed time, living on borrowed time; gonna make it mine.” I thought this was pretty ironic for a group of ageing punks. But I got it, and having only formed a couple of years ago they are embracing that borrowed time wholeheartedly, giving it their all with gigs throughout the summer and an appearance at a couple of festivals thrown too. Aren’t we all on borrowed time?

The set raced from one heavy punk song to the next. But the stand out song for me was ‘Primary Instincts’, maybe because I could understand more of the lyrics, maybe because it was more melodic. It showed a different depth to the band either way.

XSLF (ex-Stiff Little Fingers) meanwhile were missing for most of the night. At one point they were having a curry, later on they’d popped to Sainsbury’s. When they finally turned up the crowd of mainly middle-aged punks were well-oiled and very much up for it … except for one woman, who seemed to be enjoying repeatedly coming up behind random men, putting her hands up their tshirts and having a good feel. I think she was up for something of a different nature.

There was also a definite contingent of younger punks – dressed in Fred Perry polos and sharp haircuts – who got involved. And girls smashing into sweaty, pissed-up blokes three times their size and loving it!

This was XSLF’s first gig of 2015 and the opening night of their tour. They were in great spirits and from start to finish were completely involved with the crowd. At one point they invited everyone on stage to sing along to ‘Barbed Wire Love’, which most the crowd accepted and bloody loved!

They played a long, sweaty, ballsy set. Less shouty punk, more defiant in their lyrics, with a few guitar and drum solos thrown in. Everyone was loving it! It was a high energy and entertaining set. All coming from a band who clearly love what they do, love the crowds and the music.


Recipe: Butternut squash, tomato and spinach lasagne

Squash tomato spinach lasagneServes 6



2 onions chopped

2 tbsp of olive oil

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

200g of butternut squash

1 tin of plum tomatoes

60g of roughly chopped sun dried tomatoes

2 tbsp of tomato purée

1 tbsp of bouillon

3 large handfuls of spinach

8 sheets of lasagne pasta

1/2 pint of water


Creamy white sauce topping

2 large nobs of vegan margarine

1 tbsp of corn flour

2 tbsp of plain flour

2 tbsp of nutritional yeast

1 tbsp of English mustard

1 1/2 pints of dairy-free milk

Salt and pepper to taste

60g of vegan cheese



Pop your hob on a mid–high heat and add the oil and onions. Cook until the onions are starting to brown and releasing that lovely sweet, caramelised taste. Then add the butternut squash and garlic. Toss together for a further 5 minutes before you add the tinned tomatoes and water.

Leave to simmer for a good 10 minutes and then pop in your bouillon, sun dried tomatoes, tomato purée and spinach. Stir ingredients till spinach is wilted. Add salt and pepper to taste.

For the creamy white sauce, begin by melting the vegan margarine over a low heat. Pop in the flours and bind together into a golden paste. Slowly introduce the milk in stages. You should end up with thick smooth custard consistency. Now stir in the nutritional yeast, mustard, salt and pepper. If you like, add some bouillon for extra flavour.

Set your oven on 200ºc.

Dish half the squash mix into a large oven dish, layer with four pasta sheets. Tip the rest of the squash mixture in and layer the rest of the pasta sheets on top. Now smother the top with the white sauce, sprinkle the vegan cheese and some nutritional yeast over top. I like to put slices of fresh tomatoes on the top.

Slide it into the top of your preheated oven and leave for 40–50 minutes. Leave to stand for 5–10 minutes before serving with a yummy salad, or simply tuck in as it is. Enjoy.


TV comedian to perform at Hereford pub

Gary DelaneyA TV comedy star, notorious for his ‘razor-sharp’ one-liners, is set to perform at a Hereford pub this month.

Gary Delaney will take to the stage at The Imperial on Saturday 11th April to showcase wit that has seen him become a regular guest on Mock The Week, Dave’s One Night Stand and Channel 4’s Robert’s Web.

Gary has written for many TV programmes, including 8 Out of 10 Cats, 10 O’Clock Live and Stand Up for the Week.

Gary received two Sonys for his work with Kerrang! Radio, his Twitter feed was also nominated for a Chortle award, and he has received glowing reviews from The Guardian and Daily Telegraph.

Support comes from the spectacular Paul Savage, followed by Josh Pugh, Dotty Winters and Darren Mortiboy. Hereford’s James Ryan, founder of Farcical Comedy, will compere the evening.

Doors open at 7:30pm and tickets are available to buy online at or by visiting the The Imperial on Widemarsh Street.

Tickets are limited and expected to sell out, so buying in advance is recommended.

GIG REVIEW: Wyyonna Ryyder, 18th February at the Barrels, Hereford

WR Barrels gigI was lucky enough to catch the album launch of Wyyonna Ryyder’s ‘Bella Loon’ at the Barrels in February.

It was a cosy night in the brewery bar and I was pleasantly surprised by the turnout. I couldn’t find a seat and I was brushing shoulders with lots of fringed people with thick rimmed glasses. A great turnout is something missing from the Hereford music scene and it really was a welcome site.

The performance was entirely on a par with the band’s recording. You could say they were impressively true to record, but I’d rather say the recording process was refreshingly true to their live sound.

It is very easy to over record things, to add more than you could ever do live. Not only is it very easy but it’s pretty much commonplace. It was good to witness the same songs live – and they really were the same songs, nothing missing, nothing poorly executed. The only difference was the live show naturally showcased a bit more energy than you find on the 10-track album.

The flawless harmonies were definitely a highlight and showcased the bands dedication to getting it right. The explanation of some of the songs came across as sweet and personal but frontman JP Baron was knowingly endearing – this is a man who feels comfortable with a crowd’s eye on him, however much he played on the awkwardness of the classic English indie kid.

As far as the rest of the band is concerned, they got through the set effortlessly. The seamless performance was the result of what I can only imagine was hours in the practice room.

I normally find that album launches become pretty tiresome if the band play the whole thing from start to finish, but their energy levels were high all the way through. The grungy indie tunes really kept me listening even more so because they were so well executed.

I think you can go a few ways with live performances: You can be raw and energetic and blow everyone’s socks off with your passion; you can be perfect and leave them in awe of your musicality; or you can attempt to marry the two. The latter approach is only really achievable if you keep the extent of your ability in mind when writing songs. Wyyonna Ryyder’s performance was full of energy and full of quality. I didn’t feel at any point that anyone was trying to do something they couldn’t, which resulted in a well-established sound and a well-executed live show.

Pelican Morals

Photo © B at Gippa