It was hot, muggy old evening at the Big Comfy Bookshop on Friday. Those prepared to push through the tropical conditions were treated to an another amazing evening of music at one of the best acoustic venues in the country…
Opening the evening were Ward & Parker; that’s Cliff Ward (The Willows) and John Parker (Nizlopi, The Willows…and many others!). Ward and Parker had released their debut single ‘Broke My Heart’ that very day and hence were in fine spirits, treating the bookshop audience to a wonderfully driven and percussive set of songs demonstrating that there’s a lot more to acoustic music than laboured folk ballads. My fave track was ‘Feel So Right’. Nice set fellas!
It was the first time I’d seen The Foxglove Trio play, albeit I’ve worked with them on a couple of redwood projects. Not always easy for a Trad folk kinda act to be sandwiched between two more contemporary artists, but FGT pulled it off well. Opening with ‘The Sheffield Apprentice’, they played material from their well received album ‘Distant Havens’. Patrick, Ffion and Kathy are a confident act and performed a varied and entertaining set of traditional Welsh and Yorkshire folk songs (with some great introductory stories!). I liked their performance of January Girl but the definite highlight for me was their acappella rendition of the traditional Welsh lullaby ‘Si Hwei Lwli’; beautiful! Finishing with ‘These are my Mountains’ and a song that I think translated to ‘First Love’ in Welsh (but that I have no idea how to say or write), The Foxglove Trio gave us a thoroughly enjoyable set. Great folk act!
Headliner for the evening was Tracey Browne, who I remembered from the last time she played BCB a few years ago. Normally when I’m watching a gig and likely to write something about it afterwards, I make little notes on my phone. In particular I make sure I get the name of the track that I liked best from the set. In the case of watching Tracey’s set, it went like this; ‘Ok, that’s cool, definitely gonna be my fave track….oh, actually now I’ve heard this one, that’s definitely my favourite…blimey, that one’s great as well.’ Basically, there wasn’t a weak song in the whole set; it was all great.
Tracey has a fantastic voice and her songwriting is top notch. Performing material from her recent release ‘The Doctrine of Song’, Tracey mixed in some piano based tracks ‘Hit The Road Running’ and ‘The Lauded Gun’…the latter featuring some moving social commentary. Tracey gave a lovely little performance of ‘Moon River’ accompanied by Tenor guitar (‘not’ a big ukulele she went to lengths to point out). Apparently Moon River was the song that was playing while Tracy signed her wedding register. I think that performance was probably my highlight of the set (I’m a bit of a sucker for an emotional backstory 🙂
Actually, having said that I really liked ‘Mucho Gusto’ as well. No, thinking about it, Tracey finishing with ‘The Cat and the Moon’ (from 2012 album ‘Everyone Is Ordinary’) was probably my fave moment. See what I mean? Too many good bits of the set! Tracey stayed on for a thoroughly deserved encore of ‘Chapel Lane’ (yep, that was great as well…)
Listening to all the acts…Tracey in particular who has a great commercial sound…I can’t help but wonder why more people don’t get out to watch live music like this. Spotify is great, but if that totals your musical experience then you’re really missing out.
Anyway, rant over. Props to everyone who came and all the performers for giving us such great performances on such a hot evening.