|Beyond Saint George's Day
||[Apr. 29th, 2010|10:41 pm]
We celebrated Saint George's Day a day late, at the Sage for a Folk Against Fascism concert. The only familiar name among the performers was that of the Newcastle Kingsmen rapper side, but it looked like an opportunity to sample some unfamiliar music and do something vaguely appropriate with our evening.
Once again we had seats in the second row of Hall 2; how, after the Einheit experience, had we allowed that to happen? (Probably, since they don't seem to have opened the upper tiers of the hall, it was all that was available). This time round it wasn't disastrous: I still had to look up more than was really comfortable, but the foot-level perspective on the dancers made an interesting change. Not that I needed 'an interesting change' - I enjoy watching the dancing, and the Kingsmen have a magnificent combination of precision and energy. They have also clearly worked at putting together a sequence of dances which are varied and interesting to watch. (The Sage offers a great opprtunity to young folk musicians to learn performance in front of an audience. You get to hear some very promising musicians that way, but you also become very appreciative of people who have already learned that performance is a craft).
The rest of the show was mixed. For one thing, it seemed to have been put together back to front: I enjoyed the first half much more than the second, which is not the usual arrangement.
First up were Three Sharp Knives: fiddler Stewart Hardy and and guitarist Matt Price. My new-found affection for the fiddle continues: there was something enormously enjoyable about the simplicity of these wonderful tunes. They were joined for one last tune by Dogan Mehmet, and the additional fiddle was also good, and I began to look forward to Dogan Mehmet's appearance later with his own band.
Northumbrian piper Paul Knox (there's something very wrong with the design of his MySpace page, beyond the link, but it's worth it to play his version of The Keel Row) decided to share his spot with some friends, whose names I didn't catch, but with whom he had won some 'best of' award at Rothbury. They played a lovely delicate piece called - I think - Patchwork Polka on three fiddles, and also provided the music for two young women to demonstrate a clog dance.
After the break we had Dogan Mehmet and the Deerhunters. Maybe I'm just not into "Anglo-Turkish, Gypsy-Punk style". I didn't enjoy Dogan's singing style (this doesn't mean he's no good; I don't enjoy June Tabor's singing either), and I found the band shambolic, the sound muddy and confused. All the more disappointing because scroll down to the bottom of the page for the smartly dressed gentleman holding what is apparently a ghanoon. It seems he is one of Iran's finest players of this instrument, and I would have liked to hear what it sounded like.
This high-spirited, high-powered performance was followed by the Young'uns, an a cappella trio from Hartlepool. They were fine, I suppose. They'd been singing outside in the concourse before the show started, and I'd enjoyed hearing them; so I don't know if it was a fluke of my liking some of their material better than other, or whether I'd already overloaded, or what - I don't feel I'm being fair to them. I certainly liked them better when they sang than when they larked about between songs: they are, as they claim, young'uns, and they were just having fun, but - well, they could have cut it a bit shorter.
It was also a very blokish kind of humour, at the end of an evening which had already contained quite enough blokishness. The whole morris / rapper style of dancing is very masculine, full of stamping and jumping and bashing sticks together - and that's fine, that's what it is. But I was struck by how few women there were on stage throughout the evening: some of the Kingsmen's musicians were women, and there were the two cloggers (and there was some overlap between these two groups). But Paul Knox's unnamed group was the only time we had a woman playing with the men. Odd, for an evening that's all about the integration...
This sounds grouchy, and I didn't feel grouchy. I felt that I'd taken a chance on the unknown, and come up with some musicians I'd gladly hear again.