What better way to celebrate our third birthday than in the company of two of the country's finest singer-songwriters, Messrs Steve Tilston and Jez Lowe, who gave a fabulous performance at Mottram at the end of March.
The musicianship and stagecraft of these two veterans of the folk scene is unquestionable, but what set this performance apart was the warmth and empathy that they demonstrated whilst on stage, either when playing and backing each other on their own solo material or whilst playing material from their fabulous album The Janus Game.
The setlist was thoughtfully constructed, blending old and new material that reflected more than 45 years of musical heritage.
The first third of the show mixed solo material from Steve (Oil and Water and Lasting Love) and Jez (Jack Commons Anthem and The Brockey Lads) before we were treated to six numbers from the Janus Game, including the heartbreaking Lucky Sami, the reflective and mournful Wagga Moon and the angry and passionate Crosses, Crescents and Stars, truly a song for our time!
The final section of the set returned to their solo careers and included Long Iron, The Ballad of Tasker Jack, You Won't Make Old Bones, The Road When I Was Young and Slip Jigs and Reels, oft-covered but never bettered than when performed by its composer Steve Tilston.
They finished with On Beacon Hill, a suitable way to end for these two outstanding musicians, still radiating light and warmth and burning brightly and railing against the injustices of the world. Long may they continue so to do!
THE SAM KELLY TRIO
+ Ella-Joy Hunton
2nd MARCH 2019
It was the night when the young played at Mottram, and boy did they deliver!
Opening act Ella-Joy Hunton set the tone with a beautifully delivered five song set that blended traditional songs (Botany Bay and Green Grow the Laurels), a cover version (a fabulous rendition of Richard Thompson's Vincent Black Lightning) and two self-penned songs, the lovely You'll be Mine and the warm and life-affirming My Great Grandad War Hero. It was a fantastic start to the night with the audience responding enthusiastically to a terrific young talent who we will, no doubt, be hearing more from in the future.
It was then onto the main act of the night, and what a performance they gave. The musicianship of Sam (guitar and vocals), Jamie Francis (banjo) and Archie Churchill Moss (accordion) was stunning. Blasting off with Gallows Pole they then blended material from their first album The Lost Boys with its follow up Pretty Peggy, with both albums being well represented. Interspersing the songs with tales of their origin or stories about life on the road or his Irish ancestry, Sam led the trio through some memorable performances including Jolly Waggoners, If I were a Blackbird, Angeline the Baker and a lung-busting Crossroads, which brought the first half to a close.
The second half took off where the first had finished, with more stunning musicianship during a rousing Lowlands Low and the Jamie Francis instrumentals Burning Threads/Slips Through Your Fingers, before Sam became the first person at Mottram to ever sing in Cornish with the song Gwrello Glaw. This was followed by a beautiful My Largan Love, from Sam's forthcoming album with Ruth Notman, Changeable Heart, before a rousing version of Greenland Whale and a haunting I'll Give You My Heart brought the evening to a close.
What a wonderful night by four fantastically talented young musicians. To borrow a phrase from Martyn Joseph "Here come the Young." If they are all as good as this then bring them on!
Our 2019 season opened with the welcome return of Pilgrims Way. Having expanded to a five-piece and with new album 'Stand and Deliver' well established as a live concept the evening was lively and fun and involved more musical instruments than most of us can name, never mind play.
The short first half included folk classics Unquiet Grave, The Radstock Jig, Our Captain Aried all Hands and a fabulous version of Oak and Ash and Thorn, before it was all change and settle down for Stand and Deliver.
Delivered in its entirety Stand and Deliver is loosely a concept album of songs based on the themes of highway robbery, famous robbers and highwaymen and, in some cases, the fate that has befallen those that have been captured carrying out such pursuits. It benefited both from being played uninterrupted and having now been played many times by the band, for the delivery was both tight and powerful and the performances from all members of the band assured and confident. Caveat for Cutpurses kicked off the second half in style, whilst The Elms of Tyburn had the audience enraptured with its tremendous vocal power.
Last two songs of the night saw the '80s folked up with a fabulous version of Adam and the Ants 'Stand and Deliver' and then a radical reworking of They Might be Giants 'Birdhouse in Your Soul', bringing to an end a cracking night and setting us up for more excellent music throughout the year.