Reviews Away

Woodman Folk Club - Reviews

Waterson Carthy Swindon Arts Centre
Trevor Durden 28 March 2008
As I was unable to attend the final night at The Woodman I settled for seeing Waterson Carthy at Swindon Arts Centre, a small intimate venue holding about 200.

So! What does one expect from Britain’s premier folk dynasty? As we settled into our seats we were expecting a host of traditional songs, close harmonies and musical pyrotechnics; would the evening live up to expectations?

Appearing on stage without preamble and with a quick 1 2 3 4 they swung into a brisk hornpipe (Wild Forrester) leading into “Bald End of The Broom” showing that Norma was in fine voice. Eliza then gave us a fine version of “Raggle Taggle Gypsies” before she and Saul Rose took centre stage with a collection of tunes played with great precision and verve. The pace then slowed as Norma gave us a magnificent version of Mary O’Connor’s beautiful song “Bay of Biscay”. Martin was next to take a turn, regaling us with “Farewell Lovely Nancy” with a sympathetic fiddle accompaniment by Eliza. Another set of tunes paved the way for the finale to the first half, and what a finale it was. “My Flower, My Companion & Me” was collected from Helen Schneyer and was, without doubt, the highlight of a very good first half. 

A brief interval to collect thoughts, have a beer and buy Norma’s solo album before being summoned back to the auditorium for the second half.

What better way could there be to start the second half than with a rousing song about venereal disease? ”Bright Shiny Morning” is the title track from Norma’s CD and is a female take on the “Young Man Cut Down In His Prime / St Jame’s Infirmary” theme. Martin then gave us a stirring version of “New Mown Hay” before he joined Eliza and Saul in a set of tunes.

The gems continued with Norma singing her favourite song “Black Muddy River” from the repertoire of The Grateful Dead no less. We then had a swift return to the tradition with the Child ballad “Bows of London” a version of “The Two Sisters” a song that Martin has performed for many years. Eliza and Saul then combined on “The Americans Have Stolen My Love From Me” taken from the Cecil Sharp collection as was “Locks And Bolts” beautifully sung by Saul.

The evening was now galloping towards its conclusion with a boisterous shanty “Homeward Bound” with the refrain Goodbye Fare Thee Well. Prolonged applause ensured a return to the stage to finally finish the evening with “Midnight On The Water” with its chorus that seems to perfectly illustrate an evening with Waterson Carthy.

So play me a fiddle tune sing me a song,
Banish misfortune my time is not long.
Midnight on the water so steady and slow,
Stay up till the morning. One more for the road.
Midnight on the water so steady and slow.
Let’s have another drink so set ‘em up Joe.

So! Did the evening live up to expectations? A resounding yes! 

Would I rather have been at The Woodman? Don’t push me too hard for an answer!