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Woodman Folk Club - Reviews

Anthony John Clarke Bromsgrove Folk Festival
Trevor Durden 12 July 2008

It's Saturday, the weather is fine and old friends surround you. 

You pull up a comfortable chair and there is a satisfying “plop” as the cork is removed from a 2002 bottle of Merlot and an even more satisfying “glug” as the wine hits the bottom of the glass. What more could you ask for? Just when you thought it impossible, the day gets even better as three of your friends take the stage.

It is always a great pleasure to listen to Anthony John and everyone was absolutely delighted with the return of Elizabeth Van De Waal on piano. Not only does her piano playing and harmonies take the music to another dimension but also it gives Anthony John the opportunity to use her as the butt of his on stage humour! Another addition to the “family” was Rachel Hall on sensitive violin, playing just her fourth gig with Anthony John. 

Today was a bonus. We were getting not one but two performances and not surprisingly they were both of the highest quality. The afternoon set kicked off with “Jazz Love” to be quickly followed by the delightful “Spray A Little Perfume” before the whole audience joined in with the chorus for the wistful “Gloria”. Some songs drift by you and others grab you by the scruff of the neck and demand to be heard, “Gloria” just insists upon being heard and the song has, quite rightly, become a classic.

“Walking On Sunday” almost an old fashioned courting song, was followed by “Dave Dee etc” and you get the impression that Anthony John would almost be disappointed if the audience could finally manage to sing the chorus correctly! “Tomorrow The Sorrow Begins“, written by our very own Bryn Phillips, “Darling” and the beautiful “Acquaintance Of Mine” concluded the first set. 

Now! What was that line about dust on a wine bottle?

And so to the evening session. “One Night Stand” started the concert to be followed by “The Broken Years”. If Anthony John has an anthem then surely this is it. This song must have been performed in every club, festival and sing around throughout the country and quite rightly so! If a better song has been written over the past ten years then I've still to hear it.

“Between Midnight and Blue”, “My Own Grandpa” and his tribute to the genius that was George Best (Yes, I did see him play) led into “Whatever Night you want it to be Is Always Karaoke”. Without a doubt I think there might be a riot if this ever disappeared from the repertoire. 

All too quickly the evening came to an end with the invitation to “Sing A Chorus With Me” an invitation that everyone was only too happy to accept. 

Over the two sessions we had been richly entertained. Anthony John doesn't just write songs, he writes commentaries upon life that cut to the chase like a surgeon’s scalpel whilst, at the same time, having the ability to get you laughing with him and sharing his quirky sense of fun. And fun is precisely what an Anthony John Clarke concert is about. 

Let’s make a date to catch up with Anthony John, Elizabeth and Rachael again on 17th October at The Woodman.