Britfolk Footprint – February 2012

8/10

Chichester Festival Theatre

Date: Tuesday 7th February 2012

This was a really good concert of British folk music, with some new acts and one major reunion to enjoy.

First up was Sean Taylor, a solo performer with a strong blues influence. His guitar playing was fantastic and he produced some amazing sounds – bright and clear. His singing was good too, but as I’m not really into blues music I can’t really comment on that side of things. Check out his website – www.seantaylorsongs.com

The second act in the first part was Pilgrim’s Way, a group that are up for one of the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. With three members – Edwin Beasant, Tom Kitching and Lucy Wright – they looked a little lost on the big Festival Theatre stage to begin with, but after they’d warmed up and relaxed they came across a lot better. They focus on traditional British folk music, and it was good to hear some different versions of songs we’ve become so familiar with in Steeleye’s repertoire, such as The Weaver and the Factory Maid.

Edwin plays just about every instrument under the sun – tonight he stuck to accordion, guitar and mouth organ, although he did actually play both the accordion and mouth organ at the same time for the final instrumental. Tom is described on our handout as fiddle, mandolin, reluctant vocals – didn’t notice any reluctance on his part for any of those tonight, while Lucy provided most of the vocals and also played the Jew’s harp, an instrument I’d heard of but not heard before; sounds a bit like a didgeridoo on speed. Their website is at www.pilgrims-way.net

It was good to see some new acts, and hopefully we gave them a warm welcome as they stepped up to a larger venue than their usual gigs. No problems there for the headliners, who gave us over an hour of songs to entertain us. We’d seen the Oysterband back in 2007, but this time they were reunited with June Tabor. They’d worked with her about twenty years ago, releasing the album Freedom And Rain and touring together, including to the USA. Now they had reunited to record another album, Ragged Kingdom, and we were lucky enough to hear most of it during tonight’s performance.

The only downside for me was that I found I couldn’t make out many of the words when June Tabor was singing, apart from a few of the numbers where we either knew the words already or the band was much quieter (or even silent for one a cappella song). Even so, it was a great concert, and again it was interesting to hear some different versions of much loved numbers.

The lineup for tonight was John Jones, Alan Prosser, Ray ‘Chopper’ Cooper, Dil Davies, Ian Telfer and Al Scott, with June Tabor as well of course. The playlist was as follows (Ragged Kingdom tracks marked *):

Bonny Bunch of Roses* – good start. They had a DVD playing some images on the screen at the back which worked quite well with this one.

Fountains Flowing* – John Jones arrived on stage for this one, a variation on Fighting For Strangers.

All Tomorrow’s Parties

Love Will Tear Us Apart* – yes, this was the Joy Division song. One of the things I love about folk music is that it’s not cliquey; folk musicians will perform anything that they feel is a good song, and quite right too. I liked this version very much.

If My Love Loves Me* – June introduced this song very well, but as I couldn’t make out the words I had no idea what happened. From the printed lyrics, it all ends happily.

Molly Bond – an old song from the early days about a man who accidentally kills his own girlfriend. How careless! Another good one.

That Was My Veil*

(When I Was No But) Sweet Sixteen* – the dangers of believing a young man when he says he loves you. There are a lot of songs in the folk tradition giving the same warning – not very effective, are they?

Bonny Susie

Mississippi Summer – lovely blending of June and John’s voices in this one.

Son David* – or Edward, as we know the Steeleye version by. This was a Scottish version, and very good too.

The Bells Of Rhymney – another one from the early days about the closing of the coal mines, though now it has a wider reach, sadly.

The Hills Of Shiloh* – a reminder of the reality of war, sung on their earlier tour of the States when the original Gulf War was all over the news. A lovely song, beautifully done, just June with Alan on guitar.

Meet You There – the singalong number. Great fun.

Dark Eyed Sailor – another one we knew, but this was a different version.

Seven Curses* – a less well known Bob Dylan number; thankfully they have much better voices than he does.

And for the encore:

The Dark End Of The Street* – nicely done.

White Rabbit – one of Steve’s favourites.

We stayed behind to buy some CDs and I was given a copy of the playlist as well, which is how I know the above list is accurate. I also took the opportunity to ask the Oysterband members for their autographs on said playlist – now there’s a memento to treasure. And their website is www.oysterband.co.uk (and they won at the Radio 2 Folk Awards as well!)

© 2012 Sheila Evans at ilovetheatre.me

Oysterband – November 2007

8/10

Minerva Theatre

Date: Thursday 29th November 2007

This was the first time we’ve seen the Oysterband, though we’ve been aware of them for a number of years. The support act was Dan Donnelly, who also played with them during their set. He’s an Irishman who now lives in New York, and whose songs covered some of the basics of human experience – love, loneliness, etc. Songs such as Love Will Save The Day, Cigarette, Lonely Still, Shine and a number of others, warmed us up nicely, although from Dan’s perspective we were still incredibly reserved. No swearing, no throwing bottles, what was the matter with us? He had a good voice, and I liked the songs well enough to buy a CD, but the most interesting thing was the amazing box of tricks at his feet. He was able to set up rhythms, riffs, etc, and get the machine to loop them as a backing track – the most amenable band in the world. It sounded great, so I’ll be interested to hear what the CD is like.

The Oysterband needed no introduction to their fans, and gave us a blend of new songs and old favourites. Bury Me Standing, Meet You There, Here Comes The Flood, Dancing As Fast As I Can, and Over The Water are from the new album, while oldies included If You Can’t Be Good and My Mouth amongst many. I liked the sound, an unusual combination of folk instruments and modern style, and enjoyed the songs, tapping away to most of them, as were a lot of the audience.

The band had been told they wouldn’t get anyone dancing in Chichester, but that was proved wrong. A brave lady got up to bop in the far aisle about half-way through, and towards the end, lots of folk stormed onto the stage to take advantage of the open space. If I hadn’t been caught up in the middle of a row, I would’ve joined in (possibly). Anyway, the band did the usual encore, and then treated us to a display of their skill that I haven’t seen before, and may not see again for a long time. The regular band members (Dan had disappeared offstage by this time) came in front of the mikes and did a proper acoustic number with no amplification at all. OK, it was quieter than the other stuff, but still audible – the Minerva isn’t that big – and we all got to join in. It was a great way to end their set, and much appreciated. I hope we’ll see them again, and in the meantime I bought a couple of CDs to keep the memory fresh.

© 2007 Sheila Evans at ilovetheatre.me