Tag Archives: live

The Unthanks – Diversions 4: The Songs & Poems of Molly Drake, Vicar St, Dublin

I’d desperately wanted to catch The Unthanks’ live show doing the Molly Drake songs that they’d put out as an album. I couldn’t make the date when they played Cambridge, my nearest venue. As luck would have it, though, I was due to be in Dublin the same week they were playing. Tickets were swiftly arranged and stowed in the suitcase.

Dublin’s Vicar Street turned out to be rather a strange venue. It has tiny tables with fixed round stools attached, all laid out formally in rows, and it felt more like we should be settling down to play bingo than watching a gig. Accompanied by a glass of Guinness (mandatory when in Dublin), we sat down to wait for the band.

To find out how it went, read my review, as published in folking.com.

THE UNTHANKS Live at Vicar Street, Dublin (25 May 2017)

Mad Dog McRea – Cambridge Junction

As part of the Cambridge City Roots festival in February, I went along to Cambridge Junction to see Mad Dog McRea. I’d reviewed their Almost Home album when I was writing for Bright Young Folk and loved it, so I was really keen to see them in action. A band with a reputation for being an instant party – what’s not to like?

And all due respect to their support act on the night, Noble Jacks, who got things off to a rollicking good start, warming up the audience like a furnace. (And they were also really lovely lads, too).

How did it go? Read my review, for folking.com, to find out.

MAD DOG McREA – Live at Cambridge Junction (Cambridge City Roots Festival)

Amy Wadge / Luke Jackson – Cambridge Junction

Another day, another gig as part of the Cambridge City Roots festival in February 2017. This time it was off to Cambridge Junction to see Grammy-award winning singer-songwriter Amy Wadge doing a double-headliner with Luke Jackson.

Jackson was the real draw for me, since I’ve got his albums but hadn’t yet managed to see him live. To be honest, I wasn’t really too sure who Amy Wadge was (sorry, and I know now – she co-wrote the bestselling ‘Right Where We Are’ with Ed Sheeran!), but quickly got to like her down-to-earth presence. The dynamic between Jackson & Wadge was lovely, with lots of mutual affection (she seems like the kind of aunt who might have slipped him a sneaky Babycham at Christmas when when he was young).

It’s not the first time these two have done the double-header tour and they plan to do it again in future. To find out whether you should book your tickets (spoiler – yes, you should), read the review I wrote for folking.com.

AMY WADGE AND LUKE JACKSON live at Cambridge Junction

Cambridge City Roots Festival

The Cambridge City Roots Festival took place in February 2017. Over a week (or so) there were lots of different events on at a range of venues around the city. I went to some of them, picking the ones I was most interested in – not necessarily the biggest name events.

A bitterly cold Saturday saw some local bands out busking around town, many of whom also played in the Cambridge Union building during the day, affording them the chance to thaw out with a warming cup of tea. The Cambridge Folk Club who ran this event, proved to be friendly and welcoming.

Now, it might be my memory playing tricks, but I thought I’d remembered seeing some of these gigs (Mad Dog McRea, Luke Jackson/Amy Wadge) scheduled quite some time before I became aware of the City Roots Festival label being stuck onto them. I had pencilled them in as gigs I’d like to attend, even before I was asked to review the festival for folking.com. Also, there were other folk artists playing locally at around that same period, who weren’t included in the festival itinerary, so I’m not sure what the selection criteria might have been.

So, what’s the point of yet another festival? Why go so off-season? Well, there’s a wealth of talent out there and it provides another focal point for collecting some of these artists together under an umbrella (though hat, scarf and gloves might have been better!) of a festival. Aiming to promote folk music in the local community, it’s a welcome wintry counterpoint to the main Cambridge Folk Festival in the summertime.

Was it worth it? Well, some of the signage was a bit inconsistent and scheduling updates were made online only, making the posters around town rather out-of-date when one headliner had to pull out at the last minute. Still these are teething troubles and this was only the first of these festivals. It will be interesting to see whether they manage to iron out these issues if they decide to repeat the festival next year.

Read my overview in folking.com (who kindly asked me to review the festival for them) here. Thanks also to Jay at Prescription PR for sorting out access to the various venues.

CAMBRIDGE CITY ROOTS FESTIVAL – Various artists and venues, 3-11 February 2017

Martin Green – Flit – Cambridge Junction

A review of Martin Green’s (Lau) most recent project Flit, performed live at Cambridge Junction, October 2016. Flit is based on stories of migration, initially inspired by Green’s own grandparents’ experience, and featuring other collected tales.

This review was published on folking.com.

http://folking.com/martin-green-flit-live/

Runrig, Cambridge Corn Exchange

four stars

four stars

Runrig, Cambridge Corn Exchange, 27 February 2016

There can be a particular pleasure in going to a gig without knowing anything about the band. No preconceptions, no expectations. This isn’t an up-and-coming band in a pub back room, however. It’s Gaelic legends Runrig, a band with a 40-year history, celebrating what may (or may not, they don’t always seem entirely decided) be their last hurrah. Their latest album The Story is a summation and a reflection of their career to date. Continue reading

Kate Bush, Apollo Hammersmith, London

Five starsOriginally written immediately after the gig, I didn’t post it because I was never really happy with it. It hadn’t quite captured how I felt. Re-edited and published for the anniversary of the gig – and still waiting for that DVD!

Kate Bush, Apollo Hammersmith, London 16 September 2014

Like every other fan who missed out on the 1979 Tour Of Life, I was reconciled to never seeing Kate Bush perform live. Or so I thought.

When her residency at the Apollo, Hammersmith was announced, I was uncertain. What if – dare to think it – it wasn’t much good? What if it destroyed my decades of admiration for this woman’s work? In truth, there was no way that I would miss out on the chance to get tickets. Stalls, mid-run and on one of the nights being filmed for DVD – and our wedding anniversary, to boot (which helped me feel better about the ticket cost). Continue reading

Mark Lanegan, Cambridge Junction

four stars

four stars

Mark Lanegan, Cambridge Junction, 03 September 2015

It’s a last-minute decision to see Mark Lanegan at the Junction. Much as I love his work, I’d never yet seen him live and wondered what it might be like. In the end, serendipity decided for me: as I hesitated, one of his songs suddenly came on the radio. That voice was irresistible and I find I must see the man who can make such a sound. Continue reading

The Unthanks, The Young’Uns, Roundhouse, London

Five starsThe Unthanks / The Young’Uns, The Roundhouse, London, 07 March 2015

To the Roundhouse, a venue I’ve not visited in about 25 years. Back then it was John Cooper Clarke and Nico in this dingy but atmospheric former rail shed. Camden’s still greedy, grimy and squalid, but the Roundhouse now gleams and sparkles. It’s horribly soulless and corporate with an over-the-top security system that would put most international airports to shame. Still, we’re here for the music which, luckily, is one thing the Roundhouse does still do well. Continue reading