Son Para Todos at The Punchbowl

Son Para Todos 2Some months ago I decided, along with a group of like-minded friends, that I had made my last visit to The Punchbowl in Crookes. It wasn’t a great pub, and we didn’t go there all that often, but it made a good place to start the Crookes to Broomhill pub amble. Sadly, the then manager’s attempt to appeal to a younger demographic had succeeded rather too well and we found ourselves feeling like ancient relics, surrounded by blatantly underage drinkers drunks, many of whom seemed to be spoiling for a fight. Oh, what fun.

Anyhoo, times change and so do licensees. These days The Punchbowl has bands playing on Thursday evenings, which seemed like a good excuse for another visit, so last week we toddled along to see what we thought of the place.

The difference was amazing; there were no obviously underage drinkers to be seen, however there were a lot of familiar faces. Thursday night used to mean one thing for us: music quiz at The Ball. It seems we are not alone in giving up on the new, unimproved, mind-bogglingly dull quiz that is on offer there; many of our former quiz rivals from The Ball seem to have decamped to the other end of Crookes.

The result of this change of clientele in The Punchbowl was simple: instead of feeling ancient, I felt rather young! The hostile atmosphere had been replaced with a friendly one, it felt like a proper pub again. The only minus points are a lack of hand-pulled beer (and that’s a big minus IMHO) and a large number of unfriendly notices – starting with the entrance which states not “Welcome” but “TOILETS ARE FOR THE USE OF CUSTOMERS ONLY.” Once inside more notices announce zero tolerance on drugs and warn of police sniffer dogs visiting to check out the clientele. Yikes. (Although to be fair, we later discovered that the sniffer dog notice has appeared in many local pubs this week at the request of the police themselves.) All a bit of a stark contrast to the warm and friendly welcome we received from the staff.

Last week’s band were OK (lots of Gary Moore covers and lots of gurning), but a chance remark raised our hopes for this week. “My band’s playing here next week. It’s Latin American.” said Kevin.

Son Para Todos 4So last night, back we went. The band were Son Para Todos* and they were great – definitely a cut above the average pub band. The majority of the people in the pub were actually watching the band – this is definitely not the norm at a pub gig, where most people generally ignore the band. The people who weren’t watching were dancing. Wildly. (I wish the video function on my camera was working, because then you could see for yourselves!).

This is a band that I won’t just be going to see if they happen to play in one of my local pubs, I’ll be making an effort to get to see them again. A visit to Cubana might be in order. And it appears that the vacant post of Thursday night local might just have been filled. Watch this space…

*I don’t speak Spanish, I didn’t get the chance to ask what Son Para Todos means and online translators have not provided a meaningful answer. Babel fish suggests it means They are For All , anyone have a better answer/explanation?

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