Live music, reviews and opinion / Est. 2018

Live music, reviews and opinion / Est. 2018

No strangers to our pages, The Magpie Arc – in recorded form (the Glamour In The Grey album still getting repeat business) and on the live front (last spotted in Newhampton last August) – return to cast their spell, reminding a packed house at The Met that they’re a hell of a thing.

We’re in luck with a local date at The (wonderful) Met for the penultimate date of a run that’s seen them front their own Festival Of Folk at Folk HQ, Cecil Sharp House, stop off at other Folky happenings at Love Folk and Celtic Connections and add their own headlining jaunt around the nation.

Surreptitious communications in an Anglo-Scottish love story by a magical bird and songs of betrayal added to the wonderful mixed bag of themes delivered through a magical evening of music

With an album and three EPs worth of music from which to choose (and hopefully more to come asap please) , the band amble on amidst mellow tones to melt into the opening number and the first track from EP1, Canon penned by Nancy Kerr before things get ramped up with the first song from Glamour In The Grey that’s set to get performed in full. The traditional wassail period may be over but their Wassail (sounds traditional but actually Nancy and Alex combining Folk and Doom Metal) buoyed up the audience for a hefty helping of traditional folk presented in glorious heavier style Folk Rock, complete with the Sabbath doom opening moments – not the first time the dark side will be paid a visit.

Martin Simpson’s father-in-law, Roy Bailey might have considered there be “too many notes” on Martin’s take on Si Kahn’s What You Do With What You’ve Got, but to be contrary, it’s that very tumble of ‘too many notes’ that delivers its appeal. His version showed clearly how the acoustic guitar maestro is relishing his sojourn into the electric side of folk (just the one comical call of “Judas” tonight). He acknowledged later that he didn’t need to think twice about the offer to join The Magpie Arc. New lease of life maybe? Or possibly not being content to make do with what you’ve got…

And who would blame him when the opportunity of playing alongside (not for the first time…) the likes of sublime vocalist and the multi-instrumental prowess of Nancy Kerr and singer and guitarist Findlay Napier, who join him in the frontline. It’s Findlay who encouraged the audience to join in on the country-style Roll Your Stone Away making a plea for quantity not quality – “we’re simply looking for volume.” Yet from The Magpie Arc it was quality in abundance during the whole evening. Mr Simpson’s slide guitar making the first of several telling contributions. When he dons that piece of metal on his left little finger you’re ready for a song to be ramped up.

Before they really got stuck into brilliant songs from Glamour In The Grey, Findlay, Nancy and Martin had the opportunity to showcase some of their solo material. After a short songwriting workshop tale, Fin’s song dedicated to his daughter Call Me If You Need – he may have called it a ‘yeuch!!’ moment as writing about feelings may not be the done thing – was a ‘can’t hear a pin drop moment ‘ as the spellbound audience followed every word and note. Nancy recalled her visit to The Met with the Sweet Visitor Band accompanying herself on fiddle for Sickle And Harvest, paying homage to traditional folk roots music.

And it’s traditional music that blends with amp-fizzing toughness as Gay Goshawks and Cutty Wrens sit as comfortable bedfellows with easy Country rockers and solid-bodied belters

iliar with his acoustic material runs through his soul, was revealed in a song he claimed he wished he didn’t have to sing but underlines the fact that oppression of the poor while the rich and privileged remain a protected species, has not changed. Performance of the night with his take on Palaces Of Gold? You wouldn’t bet against it; maybe until the song he first heard sung by Mike Waterson – Jack Frost (“a hell of a thing“) where Tom Wright’s beaters added an ominous thump. Ending the first set on a slightly lighter note, his cover of Eddi West’s Pans Of Biscuits had the appreciative audience joining in with the chorus.

Take All I Planted – who could imagine Nancy Kerr would emerge from the hefty rock intro to add her vocal that’s deeply rooted in the traditional?

In between songs, fascinating anecdotes were shared from the wealth of knowledge and songwriting and song gathering on stage. We datingside forbinder deg med vakre filipino kvinner learned of inspirational moments listening to the Watersons, and movie soundtrack letdowns from Martin. Links between a veteran boxer and police shenanigans during the miners’ strike, day whilst night wild musical jamming session tales were told by Findlay ahead of the weary ‘going home’ lament, After The Last Bell Rings encore.

Chipping in with some vocals and cheeky rapport was drummer Tom A Wright – at last, a drummer we can see without straining to peek over rafts of cymbals) whose subtle percussion and variety of bass styles from Alex Hunter (even seeking in a Black Sabbath riff and Devil horns in one jokey moment!) drove the band along adding tightness and colour to the performance. The rapport between the whole band highlighted the respect they have for each other as people as well as accomplished musicians.