Reviews 2018

Woodman Folk Club - Reviews


Les Jones 13 April 2018

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Last review I started by saying that it was a pleasure to discover someone new. This time I felt as if I should have been wearing a cloth cap and muffler and talking in a cockney accent as we were treated to a piece of history by way of a tour of 19th century England by Cosmotheka and their rendition of music hall songs and stories.

Cosmotheka is of course a piece of modern folk history itself having been formed in 1972 by brothers Al and Dave Sealey. They continued to entertain audiences all over until Al’s death in 1999. Dave has now reformed the band with his son Dan on guitar and his friend Adam on keyboards and accordion. Dave guided us on our tour with Dan and Adam providing harmonies and Dan lead vocals on the occasional song.

In the first half we had songs by; Harry Champion – Never Let Your Braces Dangle; Gus Elen – Half a Pint of Ale (sorry ‘Arf a pint of ale); (She’s Too Good To Live Is) Mrs Carter; Australian singer Billy Williams – Kangaroo Hop; Little Billy’s Wild Woodbines; Let’s All Go Mad; Ernie Mayne – You Can’t Get Many Pimples on a Pound of Pickled Pork; My Meatless day. Dave also gave us a Stanley Holloway monologue about one “Albert” as a means of giving to youngsters a rest I think. Each song was interwoven with wonderful stories about the music hall and its performers. For instance, did you know that as a side-line Harry Champion had a fleet of horse-drawn carriages in which fellow performers used to get from one music hall to another? No neither did I; Cosmotheka was originally a music hall in a less-than-salubrious area of Marylebone? An obvious name for Al and Dave to pick when searching to set out their stall. Dan and Adam finished off the first half with a song in the music hall style about a certain Donald J Trump.

Dan and Adam opened the second half with a song usually performed by their band Merry Maker called This Is England about a frequenter of their local named Roy who doesn’t like anything it seems. After another Merry Maker song we were back to the music hall. Harry Champion again – Robin Red Breast and Don’t Do It Again Matilda, which has been in my head ever since they sang it. Gus Elen – Isn’t It A Pity. Ernie Mayne supplied the last two songs of the set – Can’t Do My Bally Bottom Button Up which was swelled by audience participation in the chorus – which is not easy believe me; and Love, Love, Love; a romantic song which is a rarity in music hall. The sweetened edge was taken of it a little when the band sang it in Ernie’s own inimitable style – that is, he sang all his songs flat. It gave the song a certain je ne c’est quoi. No I don’t know what either but I’m told it's French. We couldn’t of course let them go without an encore. Again, that’s French. A Charles Coborn song - Two Lovely Black Eyes raised the roof and finished off a truly nostalgic evening. What amazes me is that given these songs are all so old we seem to know them so well. That either gives to the popularity of the songs in the first place or the age of the audience. (I leave that to you).

John Hoare sang two lovely songs in the first half – A Ralph McTell song “Tonight in Some Way I Loved You”, requested by Debbie and the self-penned “The Tin Man”. Velvet Green were as good as ever, despite Sue being concerned about how her voice was working – the Waterfall song, “Thanks” and a Matthews/Haycox song about the seaside, “Before the Sun Goes Down”. In the second half Bryn led “Happy Birthday” for Keith Mansell’s and Gill Kemp’s birthdays on Sunday and Monday respectively. He then sang his own songs – “Treacle Town” and the very bluesy “Dead Man Ride”.

This was one of those nights which difficult to explain and is best understood if you were there to see it. Cosmotheka are booked to perform at several of this year’s festivals and hopefully for more in years to come.

Thank you, lads, for helping me to say:

A Wonderful Night Was Had by All.
Here’s to The Next One.