|Live Reviews 2010:|
Live Reviews Spring 2010
Quick-links to sub-sections:
John Renbourn and Robin Williamson - Hitchin Folk Club at the Sun Inn Hitchin - 18th April 2010
Breabach - The Stables, Milton Keynes - 14th April 2010
Po' Girl / Hullaballoo Community Choir - Shoreham-by-Sea/Hove - 9th/16th May 2010
|Live reviews so far this "season" for John Renbourn / Robin Williamson, Breabach and Po' Girl with the Hullaballoo Community Choir. Please do keep them coming in!|
|John Renbourn and Robin Williamson - Hitchin Folk Club at the Sun Inn Hitchin - 18th April 2010|
Review by Jonathan Aird
That untrustworthy confident, rumour, which stated so confidently that 2009's tour would be John Renbourn's last has thankfully been proven wrong. So once again there is a stage cluttered with the myriad of Robin Williamson's instruments - harp, drum, mandolin and various whistles and flutes - and a space for John Renbourn to sit. This is a pairing with a long history of occasional touring, when I saw them a year ago at the same venue I felt they hadn't quite bedded down, no such concerns this time.
Rumour had got one thing right - Robin wouldn't be doing any Incredible String Band music, but since much of John's Pentangle songs predate that band by centuries he didn't feel a similar need to limit himself. This a haunting version of The Snows, with Robin adding an eerie accompaniment on a whistle, and added something similar to Lord Franklin's lament as ever beautifully played by John. Robin also led off on some songs - Absolutely Sweet Marie on the harp is a tremendous thing and it's a tragedy that this isn't available on Robin's many albums, preferably a live one so that the anecdote of Dylan's ringing endorsement of one of his first songs ("quite good") could be recorded for posterity. Dylanís Buckets of Rain also gets a look in. The Death Of Robin Hood was another harp driven highlight, but the exquisite Letter To My Wife Bina gave a moment of the free wheeling stream of consciousness poetry that Williamson so excels at.
Along the way there were tunes like Blarney Pilgrim, a sing-along of Blarney Roses, tales of cheated cowboys, and a new song about being on the road that Robin is still working on. Robin is his strident self throughout, Renbournís playing is a joy to hear and watch. It's really a pleasure and, yes a privilege, to be able to see such giants of the sixties/seventies "psych-folk" scene at such close quarters. Perhaps they leave the boundary pushing to others these days, but there is no doubting their musicianship and continuing relevance. Or their generosity as they "helped out a struggling band who need the PRS credit" with an encore of Ace Of Spades - slowed right down the rock 'n' roll bluster and arrogance became a timeless folk-blues. My night was complete.
|Breabach - The Stables, Milton Keynes - 14th April 2010|
Review by Jonathan Aird
It would seem that the good people of Milton Keynes and around don't give a damn about no bagpipe playing band, as they'd stayed away in their droves. A fifth full room must be something of a disappointment, but you wouldn't have known it from Breabach's sterling performance. They are a young four piece, (augmented by a rather good double bass player) consisting of rhythm guitar, violin, two bagpipe players who also double up on various flutes and whistles. One also does step dancing. The ability to be able to lay down a twin bagpipes assualt certainly give a different sound from many other Scottish folk bands.
Breabach have two albums to their name, the latest was drawn on for the majority of the two sets. Their music is predominantly traditional in style (whether the tunes are genuinely old or newer ones by the band) although there are a number of songs scattered through the performance. Vocals, to be honest, are not Breabach's strongest suite, but "The morning lies heavy" has a suitably plaintive tone and "The Rolling Hills" lovingly evokes the borders region. But, it's on instrumental tune sets that they really excel.
It's grand, toe-tapping stuff, lively and free of stuffiness - the band's irreverent attitude is only matched by their musical talent. One to watch for in the future.
|Po' Girl / Hullaballoo Community Choir - Shoreham-by-Sea/Hove - 9th/16th May 2010|
Review by Mike Morrison
Both of these excellent Brighton Fringe Festival gigs deserve a mention because of the contrasts in what the, pretty much, full houses witnessed.
On the performance side the wonderful Po' Girl were their usual spellbinding selves at each of the gigs, but huge credit should also go to the hard work and perfect blend of voices by all concerned in the Hullaballoo choir at Shoreham. The event kicked off with the Brighton based choir of approximately eighty local people singing songs, written in the main, by members of the Natural Voice Practioners Network. Their entirely accapela singing was as good as anything that I've heard and it was easy to get lost in the emotional impact they generated.
Po' Girl arrived on stage after a short break and as with Hullaballoo played a half dozen or so songs. The two womens voices are entirely different, with Allison Russells beautifully exuberant vocals dominating the hall. Awna Teixeira's vocals, on her self penned songs, have less power but just as much impact with the feeling she is able to generate. Add this to their multi instrumental talents, beautiful harmonies, Benny Sidelingers brilliant playing of his own manufactured dobro & guitars plus Mikey August on drums and you have a band that anyone with a love of American Roots music would happily pay to see several times in a week; which was exactly what I did! Following Po' Girls short set the Choir & they got together to perform four more songs, two of which were written by members of the aforementioned NVPN. All in all, an evening of beautiful uplifting music.
The Hove gig didn't have a full choir but it played with the emotions just as much. Opening was Alexia Chellun with her beautiful pure vocals on self penned songs and with her own acoustic guitar backing. She really has talent but is in a field where so have many others also have and it really needs something different to grab public attention. This duly happened when Rhi Johns arrived on stage to play three songs with her. Of the songs they played they had each written one and there was also the Moustaki/Monnot penned (for Edith Piaf) Milord. The whole gig was transported to a different level with their beautiful harmonies and sheer pleasure in singing. Their performance of Milord almost made you forget anyone else had ever sung it. Maybe they should give serious thought to continuing their dueting?
Finally, Po' Girl arrived to give an emotion filled performance of songs taken mainly from their gorgeous new album, FOLLOW YOUR BLISS. As with the previous week they gave another fine performance of their roots music. It is difficult to fit them into a particular genre covering as they do blues, old-time country, jazz & folk themes, all in their own inimitable style. Highlights were the beautiful love song Kathy, the gorgeous harmonies of Montana with Alli's clarinet taking a solo and the soaring Western skies underpinned by Benny Sidelingers mastery of the dobro. Anyone that is a fan of any of the aforementioned roots genres should see Po' Girl, they won't be disapointed.
A final word of praise for Rhi Johns, not only for her singing (she is also a Hullaballoo member) but also for the enterprise shown in putting on the last two Brighton area Po' Girl gigs. Last year she was disapointed to see that her favourite band weren't playing in Brighton so she contacted them and said she would put them up if they would play Brighton. They responded by saying if she put the gig on they would accept! The rest as they say is (local) history!