Into Music Review: The Men They Couldn’t Hang

Concert: The Men They Couldn’t Hang 
Venue: Glasgow Oran Mor
Date:  13 November 2021

Just under a year ago, I had the privilege of interviewing Phil “Swill” Odgers for Into Creative (see interview link here). At the time we chatted about a host of topics including the impact of lockdown, playing gigs from his kitchen and plans for new music both on a solo front and with The Men They Couldn’t Hang.

Within a matter of weeks however, all that changed with the sudden and unexpected death of Phil’s friend, co-vocalist and guitar player in The Men They Couldn’t Hang, Stefan Cush. As news came through of his untimely passing, it provided such a shock to fans of the group and I shudder to think how that then impacted on Cush’s close friends, band mates and family. 

At this point with live dates booked, the band took the tough decision to play those shows and honour Cush by playing live and delivering what they do best, a blistering but poignant live show. 

Kicking off with Raising Hell, the band soon clicked into gear with this buzzbomb gem. Going Back To Coventry accentuated the band’s punk roots and the violin twiddles from Bobby Valentino certainly added to the buzz. 

Early on, Swill told the crowd that Green Fields Of France was Cush’s dad’s favourite track before bravely singing it, at times in a whisper. As I looked around, tears were wiped from cheeks of many in the crowd, the gig fast becoming a rollercoaster of raw emotion. 

Smugglers and Parted From You were delivered with pathos before Red Kite Rising, a new song written by Paul Simmonds after Cush’s funeral, was played. It had a country element to it and one that has the making of a The Men They Couldn’t Hang classic.  

More stories are shared, the crowd keen to listen to every word, every tale, in what was a cathartic event for them, and I suspect, the band too. Salutations sees Tom Spencer take on vocal duty before the band launch into their call to arms, The Ghost Of Cable Street. A real highlight. The Colours and Ironmasters sees the band at full pelt, Ricky chopping on his bass while Bobby is a frenzy on violin. 

A two song encore of A Night To Remember and Walkin’ Talkin’ bring matters to an emphatic close to what has been a wrought, emotional night. I don’t know what the future holds for The Men They Couldn’t Hang but I hope they reflect on the love in the room for the band, for Cush, and the communal spirit and power music brings. It really is special. 

John Welsh




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