Friday, March 13, 2009

Gig Review : Bellowhead, Katriona Gilmore & Jamie Roberts*****, @ Barnsley Civic 13/03/09

I have never been to this venue before, it's a nice looking place. The bar though is a bit ill thought out, 4 varieties of bottled foreign lager, as I try to explain to the barman that certain things just go well together, old men - folk music - beards - real ale, and no, I do not want a slice of lime in my £3 a small bottle lager.

Actually, the old men and beards thing is bit of a misnomer tonight, the audience is one of the most mixed age groups I have ever seen at a gig, there are a goodly amount of older people, which is the audience I was expecting, but there are lots of teenagers here and even a few families with younger children have stumped up the £18 ticket price (£19 with booking fee, grrrr).

The folk duo of Katriona Gilmore & Jamie Roberts are the support act, Jamie fiercely concentrating on plucking and slapping his guitar, Katriona is very laid back and chatty. They play a selection of songs from their debut album 'Shadows & Half Light' and get a very positive reception from the crowd.

The 11 strong folk orchestra Bellowhead are really what everyone has come to see tonight, Jon Boden and John Spiers lead their musicians to the stage and the group launch into a series of up tempo folk tunes. On stage it's all smiles and tomfoolery, madcap dancing and strange posing, it looks a lot of fun to be a member of Bellowhead. All this daftness is fine because Bellowhead are a really tight and well drilled unit, I know I've seen enough bands who mess about to cover their lack of ability.

I can't list all the songs because the band don't just do a run through of album tracks, although they do play Rigs Of The Time, Kafoozalum, Sloe Gin, Frog's Legs & Dragon's Teeth, Fakenham Fair ("this is one of only two Norfolk love songs to feature members of two different families") and Fire Marengo. Bellowhead also introduce a couple of new songs and play a number of bouncy, danceable jigs.

A good number of the audience are stood up and dancing at the front, a conga line whips past, John Spiers goes bounding through the front of the crowd accordion in hands, it's all tremendous fun.

As an added bonus at a Bellowhead gig, you can try playing the Generation Game closer as you try to remember all the various parts of Pete Flood's drum kit, let's have a go.....drums, cymbals, a large cast iron frying pan, xylophone, a tiny wind up toy xylophone, a cymbal with a cutlery holder welded to it - the cutlery holder is full of spoons (getting close to the Monty Python translation sketch here), a bit of metal tied to a drum with string, two bicycle horns, a plank of wood with dozens of metal scraps hanging from it on bits of string, a miniature megaphone, cuddly toy ?

I'm really glad I made the effort to come down Barnsley for this gig, it was well worth the 90 mile round trip, Bellowhead put on a tremendous show and I grinned and clapped all the way though, who knew that a folk gig could be so much fun.

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