12 Nov 2011
Not my cup of tea at all. They were Celtic folk jazz fusion. There were moments of perfectly nice songs. It's hard to do Lord Franklin's Lament badly, after all. But I don't get jazz. Pippa Marland does a perfectly good rendering of the song: bit too much shutting of eyes and having Emotions for my taste, but that's her style, fair enough. (Proper folk singers are dead-pan and let the song do all the work.) But then somewhere in between verse four and verse five, the violinist (she seemed to be doing long classical violin bow strokes not short stibbly fiddle player ones) starts making some long up and downy noises which don't seem to relate to the song and go on for several hours, after which the audience claps. In the middle of the song. The man next to me particularly claps the pianist, who seems to tinkle tinkle tinkle from one end of the keyboard to the other at the least provocation. (Chico: I can't-a think of the end of this-a song." Groucho: That's funny, I can't think of anything else.) The opening number was about birds of paradise. It seemed over lush, over sweet, over done. Dan was selling BOGOF tickets as if he was fearing an empty hall, but in fact, it seemed full of fans who had seen many permutations of the group and seemed to like them very much. I enjoyed the support act. His name was Mike Scott. He sang oldest-swinger-in-town observational lyrics with strong narratives and clever rhymes. (She sings bad falsetto on the number 14 bus / 'Rock of ages cleft for me', though she sings 'Cleft for us'.) I do not generally review acts I haven't especially enjoyed: not playing or singing myself, I could not begin to explain coherently what someone was doing wrong. It is demonstrably clear that people who like this sort of thing found that this was the sort of thing that they liked, since they clapped and demanded an encore. The forgoing is as much as to say "Andrew doesn't get jazz." Or possibly "Avoid anything that involves the word Celtic" (as opposed to say, "Breton" or "Cornish".) And possibly also "Avoid like the plague anything that involves the word Fusion."
Canteen, Stokes Croft
13 Nov 2011
Hodmadoddery, once described by Bristol's leading folk blogger (i.e me) as "two men with guitars who sing folksongs" presented a set guaranteed to please all the traddy folkies in the bar (i.e me). When First I Came To Caledonia; John Barleycorn; that one which starts out as King George Commands and We Obey and end up as Spanish Ladies; a really powerful Shoals of Herring. (But then you can hardly get Shoals of Herring wrong, can you?) The loud hairy one strums while the quieter balder one plucks, but there is clever, even witty stuff not drawing attention to itself. Tony goes all Spanish Guitar in Spanish Ladies. Steve introduces Fair Annie (surely the most beautiful song ever written about father-daughter incest) as "copied from Martin Simpson copying from Peter Bellamy" and sure enough Tony's fretwork (
[C] Folkbuddy) really is lovingly copied from Martin Simpson. Particularly notable was a very decent Black Waterside, with creditable tinkly guitar that genuinely evoked the ghost of Pentangle.
As well as any ghost can be evoked on a Sunday afternoon in a bar on Stokes Croft where no-one is actually listening.