Elvis Costello. Sheffield City Hall 2017

Great night last night at Sheffield City Hall watching Elvis Costello on the very final night of his solo tour . A 2 1/2 hour 28 song set , a mixture of hits and other songs interspersed with autobiographical stories of his family and musical background. Elvis is very quick to point out that this show is totally different every night and having seen a version of this show two years ago I can tell you that both experiences where equally good but very different. I feel that you could see the show multiple times and get something different out of it every time. Tonight probably with it being the very final night of this adventure Elvis seemed in more of a reflective mood than usual telling stories of the places he has been on this tour , informing the audience how much he has enjoying it all being able to tell stories about his family particularly around his dad. Elvis even reminisced about his past experiences playing at Sheffield City Hall , a venue which he has played it a few times over the years . The highlight from tonight’s set for me and many others happened when Costello picked up an acoustic guitar and said “I don’t know what things have gone on on this stage over the years but I know you don’t need electricity in here” , He then proceeded to play a beautiful version of “Alison” off mic which brought the house down. Other highlights of which there were many,included a musical tribute to Chuck Berry closely followed by “Pump it up”. After 2 1/2 hours you would think a good rest would be in order,oh no, 15 or 20 minutes later he’s outside the stage door meeting his fans signing autographs and chatting to everybody what a legend. If there’s one thing we have learned from tonight it is proof that Elvis Costello is one of Britain’s, if not Britain’s greatest living songwriter , just take a look at this at this set list.

Elvis Costello Sheffield City Hall 2017
Setlist

01. This Year’s Girl
02. Green Shirt
03. Poison Moon
04. Church Underground
05. Stella Hurt
06. Everyday I Write The Book
07. Cinco Minutos Con Vos / Shipbuilding
08. Stripping Paper
09. Deep Dark Truthful Mirror
10. A Face In The Crowd
11. Walkin’ My Baby Back Home
12. Forbidden Nights
13. Ghost Train
14. Watching The Detectives
15. No Particular Place To Go
16. Pump It Up – including Too Much Monkey Business and Subterranean Homesick Blues
17. Alison – off-mic
18. Blood & Hot Sauce
19. No Man’s Woman
20. Oliver’s Army
21. Indoor Fireworks
22. 45
23. Jimmie Standing In The Rain – including Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?
24. Vitajex – on ukulele
25. She
26. Accidents Will Happen
27. I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down
28. Tramp The Dirt Down

Greg Russell and Ciaran Algar Live at Sam’s 28 March 2015

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Photo’s Bob Stone

Greg Russell and Ciaran Algar Live at Sam’s 28 March 2015
On Saturday 28th of March, Greg Russell and Ciaran Algar played it to an absolutely full house as part of “Live at Sam’s” house concert series .
The evening started off with a 15 minute support slot from Leah and Holly Morgan playing some beautiful tunes on melodeon and fiddle.
Greg and Ciaran have a huge talent. Their tunes are rousing, Greg’s singing is wonderful, their banter entertaining, and what says it all is that they were Horizon award winners in BBC Radio 2 folk awards 2014. They did not fail to deliver at our house!

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Elly Lucas joins Greg and Ciaran
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Photo, Bob Stone

 

 

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Leah and Holly Morgan

 

Derby Folk Festival

Day one.

Last night around 18:30 I arrived in Derby for the 8th annual folk festival. A big change to the festival was the usual assembly rooms venue being out of action due to a big fire earlier this year. Instead of cancelling the festival, the organisers immediately had a marquee installed in the city centre marketplace, right outside the assembly rooms. As soon as I walked into the marquee I knew it was going to have a good atmosphere and we were in for a great weekend of music. The marquee also had heating which is great for a festival in October. At around 19:30 the festival patron John Tams came on stage to welcome all, John expressed his thanks to everybody who helped make the festival happen before introducing directors Mick Peat and Bob Rushton to the stage describing them as his heroes. After a few words of thanks, Bob handed over to Chris Sweeney the MC for the first concert of the festival. Opening the festival was Greg Russell and Ciaran Alger, It had been about 18 months since I first saw these two, and every time I do they seem to get better and better. They are now one of my absolute favourites and already on their second album. I think we heard a new song in the set so maybe we will have a third album in the not too distant future. Following this, another band of young folk musicians a local lot called Open Road featuring the lovely melodeon playing of Leah Morgan.
Day two.
It started off with Coope Boys and Simpson with the new show called ‘In Flanders Fields,’ celebrating 100 years since the start of the Great War. The Trio have always written and sang songs about the war and this is a collection of the songs all together with poems written around the time. It was a sad subject, but it really made you think. A short walk over to the Bell Inn (another venue which the festival was using) for one of the events I had been most looking forward to, a discussion between Legendary local singer songwriter and aforementioned John Tams and Sheffield author JP Bean. JP has recently written a book called ‘Singing From The Floor – a history of folk clubs. JP has been going to folk clubs since the 1960’s and John has been performing in them since around that time. During the discussion the pair gave their own views on the topic and JP read extracts from the book. He has spoken to almost every folk artist on the English scene including Billy Connolly who used to perform in the folk clubs during the 60s, I found all of it totally fascinating. You can catch this show at the Showroom Cinema Sheffield, on Wednesday 15th of October as part of the ‘Off-The-Shelf’ Festival.
The afternoon concert was two very similar duos both English who play mainly American music. First The Carrivick Sisters, I’d heard a lot of good things about these two and I wasn’t disappointed. Lovely players with great harmonisation. Next Philip Henry and Hannah Martin, winners of Best Duo at the 2014 folk awards. It’s been great to watch this duo improve so much over the last 4-5 years. I remember seeing them first busking at Sidmouth Festival and I was absolutely knocked out by them. I still feel the same now, especially when Phil demonstrates his beat box harmonica and not forgetting his fabulous dobro playing. Hannah’s fiddle playing and singing is also tremendous.
On Saturday evening we were treated to 3 Great acts, first Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman fortunately were are able to step in at the last minute as Finest Kind from Canada were not able to make the festival due to illness. It’s always nice to see Kathryn and Sean and to hear lots of new songs in their set with the promise of a new album shortly. After this, a second set from Coope Boys and Simpson singing some happier songs this time. It’s good to catch this band at least once a year as they are probably Britain’s best a cappella trio and you don’t see them appearing everywhere – probably due to one of them living in Belgium now. Tonight’s set was a little more special than usual. Although Finest Kind were not able to appear as a band, some of the members still came over to England if only for holiday so it was fabulous when Ian Rob came on stage to join Coope Boys and Simpson. We all joined in a version of ‘The Larks They Sang Melodious,’ it was a stunning set. Finally for the Saturday night Devon’s finest Show Of Hands came on stage and immediately launched into the old favourite ‘Are We Alright,’ during the song Steve says “reassure me that we are alright” well the choice in the opening song soon reassured the audience that we were in for a great set. It was a real mixture of stuff including a reworking of one of their old songs ‘The Preacher,’ I have never heard them play this song live before so it was a lovely addition to the set. Also included, were a couple of songs from the band’s latest project Centenary, which was another project to celebrate the great war anniversary. There were also plenty more old songs that we know and love that we could sing along to when appropriate. You can catch Show Of Hands at Sheffield City Hall ballroom on Saturday the 15th of November. The evening finished with the ever popular Cousin Jack making it a perfect end to a Saturday night.

Day three.

There is no better way to start your birthday than relaxing and listening to the wonderful Martin Simpson and what a nice choice of songs. He began with a version of Tom Waites ‘Hold On’. Other songs included my favourite version of the traditional song ‘The Cruel Mother’. I have always loved Martin’s version of this song and I’m pleased to say that after a break it seems to be coming back into the set. Martins guitar playing is always great but on this song it is simply amazing.
On Sunday afternoon we get to what became my highlight of the entire festival, the Lucy Ward band – Belinda O’Hooley (keys and vox), Heidi Tidow (vox and multi-instruments), Joy Gravestock (fiddle), Sam Pegg (bass) and Steve Maclachlan (percussion). Lucy has been touring with this group of great musicians throughout this year and they really bring her music alive. It’s great that Lucy is able to tour with a band, her latest album Single Flame is very band orientated and it’s nice that she’s able to play the songs with these arrangements in a live situation. My favourite songs from the set were Lucy’s own song ‘Velvet Sky’. I was really pleased to hear this song as I don’t think she plays it live solo, so I’ve never heard her play it before. Highlights included a rocking version of ‘Marching Through The Green Grass’ and a very lovely slowed down version of ‘Come On Eileen’. Lucy is great at choosing songs to cover and this was probably my favourite. I didn’t realise how beautiful the words to this song are! At the end of the set, Lucy got a very well deserved standing ovation – well done Lucy! You can catch the Lucy Ward Band on tour this month.
The final concert of the festival was Miss Kate Rusby and her fantastic band, with the new addition of an electric guitar player. Personally I didn’t think he brought much to the band but, It’s great to see Kate back with the new album Ghost. This is probably my favourite album that she has done for a while, there are lots more jolly songs then usual, and this was very reflective in the set. It also featured some old favourites too including ‘Awkward Annie’ and ‘I Courted a Sailor’. I mustn’t forget the final sing along from some of the leading Derbyshire folk scene, this sent everyone ‘Rolling Home’ with the John Times classic, overall a nice way to finish off the festival.

Martin & Eliza Carthy

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Martin and Eliza Carthy – Beverley Folk Festival, Saturday 21st of June

Saturday was the day of my first summer festival this year. I went across to Beverley especially to see father and daughter Martin and Eliza Carthy perform from their newly released debut album ‘The Moral of the Elephant’. Without fail they were definitely the highlight of the day. The set was comprised of songs from the new album, kicking off with a beautiful song called ‘Happiness’  written by Molly Drake mother of Nick Drake, a lovely gentle start with Martin’s acoustic guitar and Eliza’s seductive vocals. Following this they played a favourite of mine from the new album by the late Michael Marra a song called ‘Monkey Hair’ about a mother who decides not to have any more children because her husband will send them off to war, beautifully sung by Eliza. It’s great to see the two playing together again as they both compliment each other musically and obviously have a very relaxed & warm stage presence, Mr Carthy never takes his eyes off his daughter while she’s playing or singing.  A good example of this would be ‘Bows of London’ with Martin’s absolutely spot-on vocals and fabulous fiddle accompaniments by Eliza.

They finished off their set in the same way they end the album with ‘Died for love ‘  this is a tribute to Eliza’s uncle and Martin’s brother-in-law Mike Waterson, the arrangement of the song is as close as they could get to how Mike originally sang it,  when I hear it I can imagine Mike singing it with them, utterly beautiful.   The audience didn’t want the concert to stop and due to festival restrictions there wasn’t time for an encore but we could have carried on listening to them all night. Martin and Eliza’s album ‘The Moral of the Elephant’ is out now, catch them at the Brudenell Social Club, Leeds on Sunday 29th of June and at Festivals throughout the summer, you will be pleased you did!

Review: Sam Hindley

Edited: Kirsty Bromley

Photo: Chris Hindley

A Night for Lynn-Rockingham Arms Wentworth

Lynn Morawski memorial concert – Rockingham Arms wentworth 6 June 2014
This was a tribute gig for Lynn , who sadly died last year and as Rob Shaw said in his introduction, was his right hand person when running the club here in the almost distant past. And how strange for so many people to be back in the Rockingham Arms barn, complete with Rob’s unique understated intros, for this one off event. Each artist gave their personal tributes to Lynn, including the absent Alan Taylor, who sent a message from Vienna read out by Paul..
Appropriately, Adam and Paul started the night, straight into Lynn’s favourite songs from the Everleys and The Eagles, all done with thoughtful harmonies and much love. An acapella version of Over the Rainbow from Paul & Kelly While really tugged the heart strings. Adam always includes a Dylan song or two – trading verses on My Back Pages showed us how well Paul vocals have developed. A lovely opening set.
Next up was Billy Mitchell, with his son Tom and ex-Lindisfarne mate Ray Laidlaw. We were first treated to a few old Lindisfarne numbers, competently done, interspersed with Billy’s black geordie humour. Tom did a great cover of Michael Marra’s “Frieda Kahlo” and Billy reminded of what a great song writer he is with the “traditional” Pitman and the Black and Coliery Laddie’s Wife. They finished on an old rocker, We can swing together, which had the whole Rock audience swinging their arms high on the chorus – Certainly a first in my experience!
The night’s final act was Chris While and Julie Matthews, joined by Kelly While. From Rob’s introduction, it was apparently Julie who came up with the idea for this tribute gig, and Julie did mention more than once the wave of nostalgia she was feeling about being back in the old folk club venue.
Chris and Julie were straight into familiar territory with On My Way, one of their great optimistic songs done really well. Kelly came in after a couple of songs, the their family combination of the evening, and had the challenge of harmonising with her mum on Baking Bread. She passed successfully! Julie did a lovely tribute to another Rock regular, Roy Machin, with George Jones “She thinks I still care” Other covers include two Gillian Welch songs. Now my Dad is huge fan of Miss Welch and, while he loved to hear the songs he did think they were a little bit too over done compared to the sparse spirituality of the original. His words!!
Springsteen’s “I’m on fire” was something else, much better and in fact really beautifully done. The old motown number “tracks of my tears’ from Chris showed what a fantastic soulful voice she has, and brought another wave of nostalgia for many in the audience. The set finished with that favourite chorus song “Faith”.
Everyone was on stage for the encore, including Rob and Jan perched on the steps, Carole King’s “you got a friend”. A fitting end to a great evening.
All proceeds for the gig were to Rotherham Hospice and MacMillan Nurses

Jim Moray

Photo by Phil Carter
Photo by Phil Carter

Jim Moray cast Theatre doncaster, Sunday 25th May

Sunday, 25 May saw the conclusion of Doncaster Folk Festival with a special finale concert by Jim Moray and his band. This took place at the new Cast Theatre in the centre of town within the venues more intimate studio theatre space. Jim started off the evening with a solo set, a pleasant surprise as I think most of the audience were expecting Jim to be joined by his band all the way through . This gave the audience the chance to experience both aspects of Jim’s live performances, I know that if they’re anything like me i always enjoy seeing a singer both solo & with a band.
During the first set Moray gave  us 2 new songs from 2 very different projects he has been working on. The Elizabethan sessions is a project similar to the Cecil Sharp Project, imagine eight singer songwriters from the folk world together in a house for a week to write music inspired by the Elizabethans including; Martin Simpson, Nancy Kerr, Bella Hardy, Hannah James, Rachel Newton, Emily Askew & John Smith. If you can’t imagine it, the CD will be released in September. The Second project Jim has been involved in is with Sam Carter & fellow band mate Nick Cooke in a trio called False Light playing mainly traditional material  folk rock style. Jim gave us a great example of one of the songs from False light, performing a version of the traditional song ‘Made of Australia’
After a 20 minute break it was time to rock when Jim came out with his full band featuring Nick Cooke on melodeon, Dave Burbage on drums and Barn Stragling. This second set featured many of Jim’s best known material from all 6 of his albums. ‘Leaving Australia’, ‘Sweet England’ ‘Jenny of the Moor’ and ‘William Taylor’ were all performed with the high energy folk rock style we have come to expect from Jim and he is fantastic band. I think Jim’s music is great for introducing people to folk as it is more accessible to the younger generation & those who are yet to be introduced, with a good balance of traditional & self penned material. I dragged a friend along who isn’t quite yet a converted folky & he thoroughly enjoyed it. The only thing i would have requested from Jim was for him to play ‘All You Pretty Girls’ as its my favourite song & one I know he used to finish with on occasion, however he finished the evening with a beautiful version of ‘Valentine’ with Nick from his previous album ‘Low Culture’.
Look out for Jim at the Lantern Theatre in Sheffield on Friday 6th June. You won’t be disappointed!

The Full English 2013

On Tuesday 29th October the Full English tour arrived in Sheffield, to the beautiful and intimate setting of Firth Hall Sheffield University.
‘The Full English is a groundbreaking project sponsored by the English Folk Dance and Song Society that draws together for the first time the early 20th century folksong collections of Harry Albino, Lucy Broadwood, Clive Carey, Percy Grainger, Maud Karpeles, Frank Kidson, Thomas Fairman Ordish, Cecil Sharp, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Alfred Williams. The result is the most comprehensive searchable database of British folk songs, tunes, dances and customs in the world.’ – Fay Hield
An extremely talented bunch of musicians have been put together to perform songs and tunes from and inspired by the Full English archive. Musicians included Fay Hield, Martin Simpson, Seth Lakeman, Sam Sweeney, Nancy Kerr, Ben Nichols and Rob Harbron. Arriving on stage to a great reception the gig was underway with Fay and Seth leading the rest in some fabulous harmony singing, it quickly became clear how much work had been put into this entire show, the band sounded fantastic and very slick. As well as the music there were also pictures and film footage of the collectors displayed along each song. A memorable example of this was when Rob and Sam playedThe Princess Royal while a clip of Maud Karpeles performing a morris dance was being shown on the screens either side of the stage. My favourite piece from the first half came from Mr Lakeman with a beautiful song he found in the archive from Frank Kidson – Portrait of My Wife, with an additional chorus from himself.
It’s worth pointing out at this stage that this is very much a collaborative project and not just each individual getting up to do their own thing separately. The selected musicians have spent time working on each song together and arranging the material as a band. The hard work has paid off, as during the interval, inevitably there was a discussion between folk about the performance they had just seen so far and how amazing and inspiring they thought it was, many people commented saying it was like having a concert in their own front room, I have to agree. The atmosphere was relaxed, friendly and everyone was completely spellbound by the musicians in front of them.
Time for the second half, kicking off with the traditional song Linden Lea which in fact is not part of the archive but a song Fay thought was just too beautiful to miss out of the show, I again have to agree. The only other song in the performance not from the Full English was a contemporary piece written by Nancy Kerr – Fol The Day-O. ‘This was written as a homage to Joseph Taylor (1882-1961), in which Nancy examines the interplay between folk song’s ancient rural imagery and the modern world, and the transporting, transformational capabilities of a great singer.’ Without the introduction to this song, you would have easily mistaken it for a long surviving traditional song.
It was hard not to notice how much fun the band were having on stage, I’ve seen the individual musicians perform their own material on various occasions, however you could really tell the difference, they all sounded as if they had been playing together for years. It was a tight performance and the relationship between the band was glowing. Martin Simpson came off stage evidently buzzing, Seth Lakeman was stamping and tearing his fiddle apart as usual. The second half seemed to fly by, before we knew it the show was coming to an end, the audience however had a different opinion, with such a raucous applause the band came out to do the perfect encore led by Fay Hield, a song she found after a long day trawling through the various notations at the library she told us she was feeling tired and bored or searching through bits of writing she couldn’t read when she came across a beautiful song called Man in the Moon a perfect chorus song joined by the band and the entire audience raising their voices in appreciation to the hard work by Fay for putting together this brilliant project that will hopefully continue for many more years to come, and the outstanding talent of the band for recreating the life of all these songs that should never be forgotten and the people who sang them all those years ago.
Well done and congratulations have to go to everyone involved in this project. The tour itself its merely a percentage of the project, as there are many strings to its bow. Please do go and check out the website and look up more about the Full English online. You are missing out on an absolute treat and we are very lucky to have such hard working and inspiring people in our folk community.
Review: Sam Hindley
Photos and Editing: Kirsty Bromley