|Fireworks in Washington
||[Nov. 7th, 2016|05:48 pm]
It's five years since we saw Martin Simpson at the Davy Lamp Folk Club, and on Saturday he was there again - and so were we. They don't sell tickets in advance, just encourage you to turn up early, so we drove to Washington between the fireworks, and settled down with the prize crossword, which was an alphabetical jigsaw.
It was entirely worth the wait: a magical evening, from the opening perfect pairing of St James Infirmary Blues with Dylan's Blind Willie McTell (bonus link: Dylan's version) to the encore, a new song about his mother to sit alongside Never Any Good With Money -
- OK, let's get this over with. I feel mean about this, but for the record. For a start, I'm sufficiently contrarian that if anyone, anyone at all, says "Now I'll sing you my greatest hit," my heart sinks. Your greatest hit is unlikely to be my favourite of your work, and that certainly applies to Never Any Good With Money. You couldn't grudge the man the pleasure it obviously gave him to sing about his father, and find that people responded to what he was telling them, but I think he's written better songs (Dark Swift, Bright Swallow, for example, which last night came with sound effects of exploding shells to accompany the story of what happened at Slapton Sands), and even so, in truth I think he's a good songwriter but a brilliant interpreter of other people's songs -
And having got that out of the way, last night's selection of songs made me very happy. I love that Martin Simpson's repertoire is constantly renewed, a perpetual work in progress, so that each time you see him there are new discoveries alongside the old favourites. Different flavours predominate at different times, pver the years, as you'd expect: there've been times when it was all about the blues, and times when the big ballads squeezed out everything except one or two tunes - come to think of it, that's what's missing at the moment, not enough tunes...
But there was as much great music as you could cram into one evening. I was particularly happy to hear Charles Causley's Katherine of Aragon, as set by Alex Atterson (I admit I still prefer the version I learned long ago from Alan Francis - which is of course not the version Alan Francis sings, but my misremembering of it, but still...). He ended the first set with a blistering version of Leon Rosselson's Palaces of Gold. And, for a big finale before that encore, entirely unexpected, Emily Portman's Rags and Bones.