Gig review from Nathan, Glastonbury Assembly Rooms 22.4.08

martha-tilston-gig

I’m not sure I’ve recovered from this one yet! It was definitely the busiest night we’ve ever had; standing room only in the hall and a head count of around 140 people at one stage in the evening. ‘The boys’ did us proud, thrilling the audience with two twenty minute sets of unaccompanied traditional folk songs in glorious three-part harmony, with gestures and theatricality and a terrific stage presence. The harmonies and diction were, as ever, immaculate; surely this trio rank with the finest folk acts in the country, or will very soon once they’re properly ‘discovered’. The lads insisted we clear the mics away, and entertained a packed hall with just their voices, proving that the old ways are the best! We hope they enjoyed what must surely have been their most exciting gig yet, as they are new to being in a headlining slot.


Other floor spots: Richard, who had arrived with the Old Down people on April 1st, sang a great anti-war song called 1973 (a somewhat better song than James Blunt’s recent song of the same name).
Shah played two numbers with a guitarist called Chris from Portsmouth; it was great to hear his blues harp played with proper guitar backing, quite a treat.
Emma and I did a song each, harmonising for each other. It being almost St George’s Day, and we with a gig to promote (we did a St George’s Day gig at the Hawthorns pub, Glastonbury the following evening, 23rd April), we decided to sing in honour of the dragon, and covered the Spacegoats’ ‘Dragon Song’, which has a lovely sing-along chorus, which just about worked. Emma sang ‘The Lampton Worm’, which is very jolly indeed and also had people singing along. It’s a kind of dragon (or rather wyrme) slaying song, but a very silly one.
Wayne who organises Glastonbury’s G.A.S. club did three numbers which were well received. I particularly enjoyed his original songs. He covered the classic Indigo Girls song ‘Closer to Fine’ (or whatever it’s called) too, though perhaps I’d like to have heard him sing it higher, perhaps with capo? I hope we hear from Wayne again as he’s great on stage.
Forcenra! played, ie Dora, Gem and Sophie, and did 4 numbers which were brilliant. This band get better and better, and Dora is performing her extraordinarily magical ballads with increasing confidence. I just wish I could remember to pronounce their name right – the ‘en’ is accented, apparently!
Richard Chisnall did two numbers following Forcenra at a prime time of the evening, and rose to the occasion splendidly, singing a song about a garden (‘Seeds of Love’?) collected from Cecil Sharp which is definitely one of the loveliest English folk songs I’ve heard. It suits Richard’s voice, and he carried it very well indeed. His new original ‘Song for You’ is recently complete, and was brilliant too. A very catchy song. This was the best non-comic perfromance I’ve heard from Richard; he’d really been working on his performance it seemed, and the work definitely payed off!
Then it was 20 minutes from Ed, Will and Ginge, who I’ve described earlier. They held the audience spellbound and delighted. I haven’t mentioned their table of paraphernalia, which included a statue of a cockerel, a 1000 year old oak wiggly stick which looked like a dragon, and a sign saying ‘Singing for our Supper’. Fortunately, due to a large paying audience, we were able to sort them out even more generously than that!
After the interval, Jamuna the Bard kicked off proceedings with a short poem which worked very well for that time of the evening, followed by Maya, lead singer of Dragonsfly, who sang three numbers that I’d never heard her sing before. The first one I can’t remember, except that it was beautiful; the second was a powerful, almost tantric sounding devotional song which was very effective, and the third was a well chosen song written by Robert Wyatt, which Maya sang with a lovely southern inflection that was just right. It was a rare treat to hear her sing solo, and I think the audience were very glad to hear her.
Ash the Poet did some shorter poems at my request, the evening being so full of performers, and – as usual – blew us away! His diction is spectacular, and as a friend commented to me, he has an amazing ability to put the meaning of each word across, even at high speed. He vibed us up well and truly.
‘The boys’ followed him (almost reluctantly as he was rather good!) and did more amazing folk songs, culminating in an encore that, like Ash’s poems, was a total tongue-twister, which they executed perfectly and with great gusto. ‘Here’s to the landlord, the landlady, the barmaid, good luck to the barley mow’ – it was one of those cumulative songs that adds more and more words on the chorus each time. Great fun!
And finally, last but not least, Stevie P surprised us all by getting a spontaneous band together for the final floor spot, featuring Gem on acoustic bass, Willow on percussion, Tre on amazing virtuosic jazz/funk sax, and Maya on backing vocals. They did three of Stevie’s songs, including a funked-up Heathens All song that had people dancing (unusually for a FFF night!). No-one could quite believe how good this little set was; it was a true piece of Avalonian tribal magic for Stevie to scratch such a good ‘band’ together with very little notice. It took great skill, bordering on genius (from him and all the performers) to pull this one off so well.
Surely the most successful gig we’ve done since Martha Tilston at Christmas. We heralded Beltane somehow with this one, methinks, and the evening had quite a full-on vibe. Well done everyone!

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