Sunday, December 02, 2012

Review:'Rory Gallagher. His Life and Times' by Marcus Connaughton

My niece Katherine sent me this wonderful book a few weeks ago . 'Rory Gallagher,His Life And Times' by Marcus Connaughton.Katherine had attended the book launch in Cork because she is married to the writer Laurence Fenton who did a fine job of editing the book for Marcus.
                                                        When Gary Moore died a couple of years ago i remember Bob Geldof in his tribute saying that Gary was one of a trinity of great Irish blues men which were Van Morrison,Gary Moore and Rory Gallagher and i couldn't agree more but Van has dipped into all sorts of music genres such as jazz, country, folk,soul etc and Gary could never seem to decide if he was a rock star or a blues guitarist but i think Rory was uncompromising in dedicating his life to the blues which was the music he loved.He didn't care about fashion and carried on regardless through the changing fads of music wearing the same check shirts and playing the same beloved Fender Stratocaster guitar throughout his whole career.He bought it secondhand in Cork in 1963 for £100 which was a lot for a young kid back then and he paid it off in instalments.
                                       I first heard of Rory in 1971 when i lived in North Wales.My pal Robin had the first two albums by Rory's band Taste.The eponymous Taste and On The Boards.I really liked those albums.It was about the time i discovered Gary Moore as well and his band Skid Row.Another favourite album a few years later was 'Rory Gallagher Live In Europe'.Nearly everyone i knew seemed to have a copy of that album.I only saw Rory perform live once though.That was at the first Festival i ever went to which was the Great Western Festival near Lincoln in 1972.Rory was on stage when we arrived and it was absolutely pouring with rain.Rory said,"I'm sorry about the rain but we'll pretend it doesn't exist at all".Then he proceeded to playing such a blisteringly brilliant set that nobody cared that they were soaked to the skin.He did actually play two sets at Lincoln because Helen Reddy didn't turn up.He was great and not only superb musically but he came over as a really nice person.No hint of ego whatsoever which you get with most famous musicians.
Anyway, this review is supposed to be about Marcus's book and not my music memories.When i opened the book i was really pleased to see that Marcus had signed it.Marcus (See picture) is a veteran of the Irish record industry and for over twenty years he has produced a whole range of music programmes for RTE and is a well known presenter as well.He delivered the first Rory Gallagher memorial lecture in Cork in 1995 and has spoken at many tributes to Rory all over Europe.This book is obviously a labour of love and a fine job he has done.My copy was also signed by Louis De Paor (See photo at base of story) who is one of the foremost Irish poets and there is a poem by Louis simply called 'Rory' at the beginning of the book.Louis has often worked with another great Irish singer i really admire called John Spillane who recorded a song called 'A Song For Rory Gallagher' which incorporated Louis's words into the song lyrics and you can enjoy that song below this page as well.You can also find out more about Louis and John here-
http://shadowplays.com/blog/?p=1469

Reading the opening chapters i was struck by the similarities between Rory's early influences and those of Van Morrison.The same names come up over and over,Leadbelly, Big Bill Broonzy,Muddy Waters,Lonnie Doneghan.I think Rory was about three years younger than Van but they both discovered the blues through the AFN radio and Radio Luxembourg.Like Van Rory also got to play with Lonnie Doneghan later in his career.He also played with Muddy Waters which must have been a thrill for him.The book follows Rory's journey from playing in showbands, to forming Taste then his solo career right up to Rory's tragic death in 1995 at the age of only 47.
                                                                 I must say Marcus has unearthed some great photos for this book.They are quite stunning and many previously unseen.In conclusion i think this is a great book that fans of Rory gallagher will love.You can find out more about this book by watching this very interesting video.









Postscript.
I have had some great feedback to this review.One music fan who lives in Canada called Dave Cooper has given me permission to show these photos of Rory that he took backstage and at a Rory concert in 1974.Thanks Dave.




Blair Whyte from Northern Ireland sent me this comment and some photos he took of Rory in the early days of his career.Thanks Blair.

Many thanks for the review Pat. I am actually currently reading this book. I am a long time admirer of Rory both as a musician and a person. I saw Rory the first time he played in Belfast and developed a good friendship with him during his early days in Belfast. Many memorable times. One in particular is when he was playing support for John Mayall. I had to drive JM to Portstewart in my Mini ( you can imagine how comfortable how he was stretched out in the back seat!). That gig became infamous due to JM being told he had to play 'The Queen' at the end, 'cause that's the way it was here in N Irland in those days. It features on one of his (JMs) bootlegs if you Google JM and Portstewart there is a clip.



Saturday, August 25, 2012

Light My Fire,Van Morrison And The Doors in 66

Smash cut to the Whiskey-A-Go-Go.The headlines of our initial engagement week? THEM!,Yes my friends,Van Morrison and Them!.Our favourite singer and perhaps our favourite band.'Gloria' and 'Mystic Eyes' and John Lee Hooker's 'Boom Boom'.What great songs, what a great band.And what a wild-man lead singer.Van was a possessed Celt.He was all over the stage.Manic.Arms continually raised in a hallelujah salute to the energy.A ball of black Irish plasma reconstituted as the lead singer of a wandering band of minstrals that had set down beside us on the Sunset Strip of Los Angeles, California.Jim was transfixed by Van.He studied his every move.He put the eye on him and he absorbed.Van Morrison was-and-is the best of the white blues men.No one has that soul,that torment, that anguish.And he displayed it all at the Whiskey....and we watched,mezmerized.All of us.I especially loved the way Van would grab the mic stand,thrust it in the air,turn it on its head with the base pointing up to heaven and continue wailing into the Shure 47, "She got one, two,brown eyes...Hypnotise!".Goddamn, he was good.
And could he drink.I wish Jim hadn't seen that part of it.What with Felix imparting the drunken secrets of the race and Van the Celtic Christian blues man idol of Jim's downing copious drafts... well,Jim didn't stand a chance.He became enamoured of alcohol.



We all became friends,and the last night of our too-brief weeks engagement with the Irish crazies saw us all in a monster jam session.The Doors and Them on stage at the same time! and singing 'Gloria' !, what a fucking night.The Morrisons were amazing.There was more power coming off the stage than had ever been generated at the corner of Sunset and San Vincente.We were rocking and i was at stage left,at the Vox.I'll never forget the picture i saw to my right of Van at the mic and Jim with a hand held mic sitting atop a large amplifier,his head above and slightly behind Van's, both of them bathed in a golden light.And they were gone !.They were both in another time and another place.They were in the music and they were wailing.We were all wailing!.It was 1966 and we were young and alive and rocking.The future was ours.

 
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Taken from 'Light My Fire,My Life With The Doors'by Ray Manzarek.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Review:Richard Thompson & Anais Mitchell,The Forum, Bath 25/7/ 2012

I had a great time seeing Richard Thompson in Bath last night.Here is what happened.Smithy called for me at 6.15.I jumped in the car,slammed some music into the CD player,the engine roared and we shot off down the highway towards Bath.It was a beautiful summers evening without a cloud in the sky.It only took about 40 minutes to arrive in the fine Georgian city of Bath.We parked just round the corner from the Forum.There was a huge queue of old folkies outside and we were a bit early so we went in a bar called 'The Giraffe'.
I sat outside and watched the world go by and the girls in their summer fashions.Smithy came out with two small bottles of Swedish cider."Guess how much they cost",he said."£9.20,they are having a giraffe".I don't think we will be going in there again.Anyway,time was getting on so we walked round the corner and we met Fred outside and took our seats just in time for the support act.
It was Anais Mitchell from Vermont in the USA.She was accompanied on guitar by her writing partner Michael Chorney.They performed songs from her folk opera Hadestown which is the story of Orpheus and Eurydice set in a post-apocalyptic America.The rest of her short but enjoyable set were songs from her new album called Young Man In America.Considering i had never heard of her before i thought she was great.She is also quite beautiful (See pictures).During the break we had a quick bottle of Bud from the bar and Fred and i went outside for a quick ciggie and a chat.When we went back inside Anais was sitting at the merchandise stall so i went over and had a quick little chat with her.She was really nice."Did your parents name you after Anais Nin?",i asked."Yes",she replied politely although she must have been asked that question a thousand times and corrected me on my pronunciation of Anais.I think i had my A and my I the wrong way round.I bought her new album and she signed it for me.I think we will hear a lot more from Anais Mitchell.
Then it was time for the main man.Its been 43 years since i first became aware of the work of Richard Thompson and tonight was the first time i had seen him as a solo performer live.When he sauntered on stage dressed in his trademark black beret and scarf what surprised me was the lack of guitars.I expected to see about 8 or 9 guitars,electric and acoustic on stands all across the stage but no,Richard played the same acoustic guitar all evening but boy did he play it.
The first song he did was When The Spell is Broken which is from the 80's i believe and then Walking On A Wire.His guitar playing is quite mesmerising,i don't know how he does it.I have never played a guitar in my life but Fred and Smithy both play the guitar and they were in awe of him.When he plays you would think it was two or three guitars all playing.Fred said afterwards that he is the best acoustic guitar player he has ever heard and i must say i agree with him.I have never heard anyone better.Anyway,to get back to the songs,the humorous Valerie was next followed by a song that i'm not sure what it is now.I thought it was called Haul Me Up but i have been told its not.Can anyone tell me what it was?
             As well as being possibly the best guitar player in the world Richard is also one of the best songwriters of the past 50 years.Richard followed that dark song by injecting some humour by singing a song about a ceilidh band from Liverpool called The Drones going on a cruise."Its an excuse to sing a song about sex",said Richard."Do you still have sex in Bath?,get as much as you can before they ban it".I think the song is called Johnny's Far Away On The Rolling Sea.He got the audience singing along with that one.Then someone in the audience shouted out a request for Cold Kisses."Ok,its been a long time but i'll do it.It's not as good as the one i was going to sing though.That song was brilliant".(I bet the song he left out for that was Beeswing, grrh,i hate requesters).
Then he did one of my favourites Vincent Black Lightning 1952.I bet its one of Freds favourites as well because Fred is a biker.After that he paid a very warm tribute to Sandy Denny with whom he played in Fairport Convention.Sandy in my opinion is the best female singer songwriter Britain has ever produced and Richard sang her greatest song Who Knows Where The Time Goes.
This was followed by a song i hadn't heard before called Good Things Happen To Bad People ,I think its called that anyway.(Please let me know if i have got any song titles wrong or the songs in the wrong order because i was scribbling in the dark and i'm not an expert like some).Then a song i really enjoyed called Saving The Good Stuff For You which was followed by Crawl Back Under My Stone.and then one of my favourites Pursuasion.He followed this by a song written by Frank Loesser in 1949 and sung in the film Red,Hot And Blue by Betty Hutton called Dog Eat Dog In Denmark which is full of Elizabethan street jive and reduces Hamlet to 4 verses.Again this song displayed Richards mesmerising skills on the guitar.Then an old song called The Sun Never Shines On The Poor which is very relevent for todays world as well.This was followed by Wall Of Death
 the brilliant I Misunderstood and another song with dark lyrics She Twists The Knife Again.For a cheerful chap he certainly comes up with some dark songs.Richard left the stage and when he returned another requester asked for Keep Your Distance which i didn't mind because its a great song and then it was Down Where The Drunkards Roll.Richard finished of the show with two of my favourites Time To Ring Some Changes and the exquisite Dimming Of The Day.
Back on the pavement we all agreed it had been an amazing concert and showed that Richard Thompson even at the age of 63 is still very much at the height of his powers.He is reunited with his old friends in Fairport Convention at the 45th reunion at Cropredy in a couple of weeks and on this form the fans are in for a treat.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Review:Keith Christmas: Live At The Village Pump Trowbridge.

 On Tuesday a nice little package hit my doormat.It was the new album by Keith Christmas 'Live At The Pump'. It is the first album by Keith that I have ever bought in my life even though he has been releasing albums since 1969. I only discovered his music this year. It all came about like this.About a year ago I bought an album by Shelagh McDonald which blew me away and I wrote a review of it. During my research I discovered that Keith  was on the album.When I mentioned to Kim that he was on at the Village Pump she told me that she had met him once. I decided that we should go and see him so we set off with our friend Pete in a taxi for Trowbridge.
                        When I first moved to Wiltshire in the late 70's I used to go to the Village Pump Folk Club nearly every week. It is an amazing place.It must be the most unique folk club in Great Britain. It is in a converted stone barn at the back of the Lamb pub in Trowbridge. Tiny but with its gallery upstairs it has an almost Shakespearean intimacy. Its whitewashed walls are decorated with musical instuments and pictures of past guests. It first opened in 1974 with the very first guest  Keith Christmas and it is a miracle that it is still there 38 years later. The dedicated people who have kept it going deserve awards for their hard work. I have forgotten most of the people I saw there but one person I remember was Dave Cousins of the Strawbs because I was quite a big Strawbs fan back in the day.I also remember the early days of the Village Pump Folk Festival when it was held in a marquee at the back of The Lamb.
 We paid our admission of £8.00 which is a pittance compared to the cost of some concerts we have been to and we sat at a table at the back. The evening started with an open mike session and then Keith came on and he did two 45 minute sets. I thought he was superb. The guitar playing is par excellence. Pete plays the guitar himself and he was in awe of the skill displayed. Keith has a unique singing voice as well. The years have certainly not diminished his vocal power. I particularly enjoyed the love songs which were very moving. If I had to choose one song I think Travelling Down which was on his very first album was especially great.
    Keith was recording the gig so I hoped a CD might become available as I really wanted to hear it again and get more acquainted with the songs so I was really pleased when the CD plopped through my letterbox. The CD is beautifully designed and the cover has a great photo taken at the Milverton Acoustic Club. As soon as I put it in the player the memory of that great evening came flooding back.After listening a few times I love nearly every track, from the bottle neck guitar blues to the gentle ballads you realise what a fine body of work Keith has to be proud of. Particular favourites are Good For Me, Evensong, Duty Days, The Fawn and Forest And The Shore but it isn't really fair to pick out some songs as better than others because the whole album is great. There are also three bonus studio tracks which are equally great. One thing that the album shows is that Keith isn't relying just on his back catalogue he is also still expressing himself by writing new interesting songs. Keith is appearing at the Village Pump Festival next week at a beautiful site which is right here in Westbury below the famous White Horse and within walking distance so I am looking forward to seeing him again soon.

If you want to know more about Keith Christmas this is his website.
http://www.kcblues.co.uk/

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Van Morrison At The Fillmore East 1970


I found a book a few days ago in a charity shop.It is called Hippie Hippie Shake by Richard Neville.Its all about the dreams,the trips, the love ins,the screw ups of the sixties.Published by Bloomsbury in 1996.Whenever i get a book like this i always have a look in the index to see if there is any mention of Van Morrison and there is.
Earlier in the book Richard Neville tells about being given an early Sony cassette tape recorder and on page 197 Neville relates how he was at the Fillmore East one night in 1970.Nick Lowe's first band Brinsley Schwartz were on the bill..Neville says,'To my delight that Saturday night it was Van Morrison who topped the bill.'Tupelo Honey' poured through the auditorium and i flicked on my new Sony stereo.And it stoned me......stooooooned me to my soul....stoooooooned me....incedible!.Vans never sung the same since,they say.It was a Tiny Tim at the Albert Hall night except that it was Van Morrison and he thought he was James Brown Its too late to stop now...too late to stop noooooooow........He soared away into some inspired ad-libbing,with everything from Astral Weeks and Moondance and more, blowing the roof off the Fillmore,the cobwebs from my soul and the muzzle from my superlatives.Plus it was all on tape.
On page 206 he says 'Both of us felt on the brink of a new era,more honest and caring, more open.My Fillmore bootleg of Van Morrison rattled the speakers each side of our pillows.the rain let up and the sun came up and we were getting dry....Louise laughed and passed the grass and the moon rose higher over the glistening sea......and it stooooned me to my soul........stoooned me'.On page 228 he relates..'David was a brilliant journalist who filed a weekly column from Paris for the New Statesman.I played him my personal bootleg of Van Morrison and the hardened journo puffing from a joint as big as a baseball bat was transported to eye rolling bliss'.

I looked up that Fillmore gig.It was 3 &4 April 1970.So if you are fortunate to own a copy of that concert then maybe you now know the source of it.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Review,Patti Smith,The Forum, Bath 28/6/2012

It was in the hot summer of 1976 that i first heard the music of Patti Smith.I had moved back to Peterborough briefly and got a job in a fish factory called Christian Salvesens.It was horrible.Dave and Fred had a flat in Broadway and i used to go round there quite a lot.On Saturdays we used to go to Andy's Records in Bridge Street or another record shop in the Hereward Arcade that i can't remember the name of now.One day Fred bought a real classic.It was Horses by Patti Smith and i immediately thought it was one of the best albums i had ever heard.I remember at the time Fred saying that along with Keith Richards and one or two others Patti Smith was one of the few people who understood what Rock And Roll was all about.I must say i agreed with him.I liked it so much that i got my own copy.
The opening track is Patti's version of Van Morrison's Gloria with the famous line added by Patti, 'Jesus died for somebodies sins but not mine'.I think that some of my friends who know me as a Van Morrison fan might think it strange that i like the high priestess of punk Patti Smith but i can see connections between the two apart from both being known for Gloria.If Patti is the high priestess of punk then you could argue that Van is the grandfather of punk.Early Van songs like Gloria and Mystic Eyes were punk or garage classics 12 years ahead of their time.There is a lot more to them than that though. Firstly they were both influenced by the great French poet Arthur Rimbaud.In her song Piss Factory which was on Patti's first single she relates how while working on the production line in a factory she found her salvation when she read Rimbaud's 'Illuminations' a book which she had shoplifted.It was that very same book that Van was reading at the time of writing 'Tore Down A La Rimbaud ' one of his greatest songs.Also Van & Patti were both influenced by William Blake.Also they both experienced visions during their childhoods which i have written about previously and i can't be bothered going into now.
The next three years or so produced Radio Ethiopia,Easter and Wave which had some great songs such as Pissing In A River,Because The Night, and Frederick but not reaching the heights of Horses. I saw Patti at the Reading Festival in 1979.I can't remember a lot about it though. Reading 79 was awful and i never went to that festival again.I seem to remember Patti talking too much in between the songs which made it quite a disjointed performance.A few weeks later Dave and i went grape-picking in France and arrived in the town of Orange to find that we had just missed Patti playing in the ruins of the Roman Amphitheatre there which was disappointing.Gradually Patti disappeared off my radar.I don't think she made another album for ten years.
In recent years though Patti has begun to reappear from her self imposed exile.Her book Just Kids has had lots of praise and she has been honoured in France where they love her and now she has a brand new album 'Banga' which some critics have described as her best since Horses and last week i learned that she was playing in Bath only 12 miles from here.I knew i had to go so i phoned Fred because it was only right that Fred should go for it was he who first introduced me to the Godmother Of Punk all those years ago.Then i found out much to my chagrin that the concert was a sell out.That only made me more determined to go and i scored two tickets on ebay.
The big day arrived.I got up at 5.00 and worked really hard in the piss factory so i could escape by 2.00.When i got home i had to wait for two men to come and install our new cooker so i didn't get underway until 6.50.I got to the station and found the train was running half an hour late.This really stressed me out.Anyway,i finally got on the train and Fred got on at Trowbridge and i started to relax.It was a beautiful summers evening as the little train chugged along the Avon valley to the beautiful city of Bath.The Forum doesn't look much from the outside but it is an amazing building when you get inside.It was opened in 1934 by the Marquis Of Bath as one of the last great Art-Deco cinemas in Britain which has been lovingly restored to its former glory.It is quite magnificent.I wish Van would play here,it would be great to see him in his old stamping ground of Bath.
As we raced in there was a huge cheer as Patti got on stage.We had made it with seconds to spare.The first song was Dancing Barefoot .You will have to excuse any mistakes because i have had a 30 year hiatus from Patti and i don't know all the song titles.The second song was Redondo Beach.Patti was in great voice and she looked great dressed in jeans and t shirt,jacket and a wooly hat which she threw away after a few songs.I think she is 66 now but her energy is incredible.Patti spits in the face of old age.She is one of the great movers in music and has the energy of a teenager.
She has a great 4 piece band with Lenny Kaye on guitar who was on the Horses album decades ago.The third song which is from Banga featured Tony Shanahan on keyboards.He has co-written a lot of her recent songs i believe.After that Patti told a funny story about how they had been in the Lion & Lamb pub earlier and she had been given the wrong food.She had ordered steak and ale pie but was given lasagne and she ate it.The waitress got really angry and Patti said,"But you gave it to me" and now she was worried that she had got the waitress in trouble.I know that pub,it is just down the road opposite the Oxfam bookshop.I think its great when somebody like her who could eat in the finest restaurant in Bath chose to go in a pub like the Lion & Lamb.Patti also said that wandering around Bath she had met so many fans that tonight she felt that it wasn't so much a concert,more like hanging out with friends.She is a really nice person with a great wicked sense of humour.
The next song i recognised, it was Free Money from Horses,a great song.The next song i think is called Fuji San from Banga and is about the Japanese earthquake/tsunami and is really good.This was followed by her tribute to Ami Winehouse called This Is The Girl.It is really moving and i urge you to listen to it.Another great song followed which i think is called Ghost Dance with its refrain 'We shall live again'.Then Patti said she had been watching 'Location,Location'.on the telly and the people wanted en-suite bedrooms."What do they call it en-suite ?,"said Patti,"Its a fucking toilet".Anyway,the next song was about her hero Arthur Rimbaud and how he had applied for a job building the Panama Canal.I think it is called Beneath The Southern Cross.Patti played guitar on this and it was magnificent.It ended with frenzied guitar and drumming which brought a standing ovation from large sections of the audience.
Then Lenny Kaye sang a song while Patti left the stage for 5 minutes.When she returned she had changed her t shirt.It was a really humid night.Then she sang a song called We Three which was about CBGB's club in New York and her friend Tom Verlaine of the band Television.I remember decades ago hearing Televisions Marquee Moon album round at Fred's flat.The next song was greeted with a huge cheer,it was her biggest hit Because The Night.Strangely though it was my least favourite song of the night.Maybe she has sung it too often and is a bit fed up with it.Pissing In A River followed and Lenny Kaye excelled himself on this one.All this talk about piss made me want to go to the toilet and i dashed down there.Even the toilets are nice in this venue with Art-Deco doors etc.I saw the bar was empty so i said to the girl,"A glass of white wine please",and downed it in one and dashed back to me seat.Patti was talking about the pub again and its name the Lion & Lamb and how the lion shall lie down with the lamb."But the lamb shall not get much sleep",i muttered to Fred.Her next song Peaceable Kingdom mentions lions and lambs.It was really good as was the next which i think is called People Have The Power.
Her greatest song Gloria followed and it was superb.Its a Van Morrison classic but i don't think i have seen Van ever perform it with this energy.Maybe in his early days.The crowd loved it at the end Patti said "That lasagne was awesome!" and left the stage to tumultuous applause.We knew it wasn't the end though and when Patti returned she announced that Italy had beaten Germany in the football."It must be the lasagne",she said.For an encore she sang the title song Banga and there might have been a bit of Rock And Roll Nigger in there.Patti started making up lyrics off the top of her head and then she said,"I don't know what I'm talking about, but I'm so fucking happy".It was obvious she had enjoyed the concert as much as the audience.It was the end and Patti departed after a brilliant concert of 105 minutes.Do you know the original cost of the tickets? £25.00.Thats what i call value in these days of greed.
At the merchandise stall i bought a Patti t-shirt.On the front it said JESUS DIED FOR SOME BODY'S SINS,and on the back it says, BUT NOT MINE.I don't think I'll wear it around Westbury though.They just wouldn't get it.We had a pint in the pub opposite the railway station and had a chat."Do you know where Banga comes from?",i asked Fred."No",he replied."It comes from the book The Master And Margarita' by the great Russian novelist Mikhail Bulgakov,Banga is the name of Pontius Pilate's dog,have you not read that book?"."No",Fred replied.I havent read it either but i will,so many books,so much music,so little time.Fred got off the train at Trowbridge,it had been great seeing him again..I finally got home at 11.40,tired but happy, thank you very much Patti Smith for a wonderful inspiring evening.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Review: The Imagined Village At The Cheese & Grain In Frome May19th 2012




I was in the Portway Fish Bar in Westbury High Street one evening a few weeks ago and while i was waiting for my cod and chips and curry sauce i read the adverts and posters on the wall and my eyes alighted on a flyer for a gig at the Cheese And Grain in Frome for The Imagined Village.What interested me was that Martin Carthy and his daughter Eliza were in the band.I had never seen Martin but i had admired his work for years.He is a legendary guitar player.I have seen Eliza at Glastonbury and she is brilliant.
"Hmm",i thought to myself,"That would be a good night out".
My friends Smithy and Sash said that they fancied going so i bought 4 tickets and last night at 7.00 we met up in the Ludlow Arms,had a quick pint and got in a taxi for Frome.When we arrived i was most disappointed to find the doors weren't open yet and there was a long queue outside waiting to go in.This put me in a bad mood.Why do they have to be so strict about opening the doors?,what if it had been raining?.Finally at just after 8.00 some jobsworth opened the door and we shuffled in.I managed to grab a table at the back while Smithy went to the bar.When he came back with the drinks he said it cost £16.90 for three pints and a wine for Kim.That added to my bad mood.It was a good job we had a table because the place filled up rapidly.I have seen quite a few bands at the Cheese & Grain such as Kate Rusby,Roy Harper,The Blockheads,Otway And Barrett,Melanie Safka,etc but this was easily the biggest crowd i have seen.There were several hundred people there.
                                                                      There was a short first set featuring the various members of the band.The opening song featured the cellist and upright bass player.It was really good and reminded me slightly of the Fleet Foxes.Very atmospheric and even featured the sound of seagulls.Then Jackie Oates joined them.Like Eliza, Jackie is a virtuoso violin player and a great singer.Jackie sang Birthday which is a Sugercubes song originally sung by Bjork of course.It was great and then a song called Fire Escapes with her Violin and cello featuring heavily.Then Martin Carthy came on and sang a song called The Wife Of Usherwell (You will have to forgive any mistakes in this review because i didn't have a copy of the set list so i had to guess some of the song titles). Anyway, Martin was accompanied by Eliza and Sheema Mukherjee on sitar who was quite wonderful.This is groundbreaking music and folk music for the future bringing together all aspects of British society in the twenty-first century.I think Martin Carthy must be about 70 now and it is great that at his age he is trying to play music that is alive and relates to the modern age.Martin and Eliza closed the first half with Eliza playing some dazzling Quebec style fiddle music.Quite superb.
                                                                                                                                        
 We went outside for a ciggie while Smithy guarded the table and we returned for the longer second set.The whole band were on stage now and i think there were ten or eleven of them.What an ensemble!.The first song was called New York Trader with Jackie on vocals as well as Eliza.The two of them work really well together.Martin introduced the next song which was called My Son John and it was amazing.This featured a huge Indian drum played by Johnny Kalsi and really reminded me of The Afro Celt Sound System whose first album i bought years ago and Simon Emmerson from that band is in The Imagined Village and i think the whole project was his brainchild so he deserves a lot of credit for that.Then there was a song that i think was called Fisherman followed by The Sick Old Man.I had a walk up to the front during these songs and it was great to stand just a few feet away and admire the band in full flight.Eliza in particular really gets into it.Eliza and Jackie were superb in the Raggle Taggle Gypsies'O.Then a song called Nest (I think) penned by Jackie and Eliza and containing an extract from All The Pretty Little Horses.This band of multi-intrumentalists even featured a theramin which i first heard on the Beach Boys Good Vibrations.Then it was Winter Singing followed by a song i think written by the bass player called The Governer.This was followed by a twelve minute composition by Sheema Mukherjee.Very complex in seven and a half time and it shows the genius of Martin Carthy to attempt to play Indian music on his acoustic guitar.The drumming again was incredible.Hard Times Of Old England followed and then Martin sang Cum On Feel The Noize (Not a spelling mistake) which is an old hit by Slade but i prefer Martins version.Eliza then said they were doing a medley of their hit Cold,Rainy Haily Night.Finally after one encore the band took a well deserved bow to rapturous applause from the audience.

We got back to the Ludlow for a last pint and then called it a day after a great evening.That was the second date on the tour.If you click the tour poster below you can see where else Imagined Village are playing and i urge you to see them because they are brilliant.

THE END.