Live Reviews

Published on December 17th, 2017 | by Mike Ainscoe



Thanks Noddy. Not long now until he’ll be  slipping down your chimney or whatever he does these days, to fill the space under your tree with all sorts of goodies. Santa that is, not Noddy Holder or the Bandwagon’s fully published author, Nigel Cartner with a a sack full of his book  ‘Lost In Manchester Found In Vegas’. There may even be some Bandwagon end of year Best Of’s to peruse in the not too distant future. Meanwhile, musical seasonal offerings are as usual in the works.

Our man in the field, Mike (‘King Of Gigs’ according to Jack Rutter and Manchester Folk Festival’s ‘man about town’) Ainscoe has been checking out what’s been happening with some of 2017’s seasonal musical treats.

The holy trinity is almost ticked off. Kate Rusby at Christmas is done and dusted with some typically quality gigs in the major theatres round the land, plus a splendid new Christmas album – ‘Angels & Men’ –  in the shops. There was even a rib tickling delve into the dressing up box for a nativity themed encore at the shows, the star of which was surely Nick Cooke’s camel’s head codpiece. If nothing else it may encourage ticket sales for next years tour on hope of a repeat. O’Hooley & Tidow’s Winterfolk visits The Met this coming week and again it’s on the tail of a wonderful if different but typically reflective  O’H&T view of the festive season.

However, it was down to Biddulph (St Lawrence’s Church to be precise) at the weekend to spend an evening with double Folk Award winners of Best Group, The Young’uns for ‘We Three Sings’.

Seduced by the  luxury of a warm church with a nice toilet, fate should have it that as the loo door opened to allow the occupier out and me in, who should appear but Young’un and master songwriter Sean Cooney. I may have hung around a few stage doors for autographs in my time, yet never stalked musicians outside toilets, please.

The Peace Folk Choir did an opening stint and also joined the headliners on an improvised encore of ‘Silent Night’ and  a loose ’Fairytale Of New York’ yet in between the Young’uns trio of Mr Cooney, Mr Eagle and Mr Hughes gave  an indication of why they are folk music’s premier group and why they’re surely in line for more accolades at 2018’s Folk Awards – a brilliant album with ‘Strangers’ a brilliant original song in ‘Dark Water’ (or possibly ‘Be The Man’ – take your choice), it may open the door for someone else to grab Best group although don’t; bet against a hat trick of sorts.

Decked out in Christmas jumpers and for the majority of the set gathered round one condenser mic worked  a treat for the intimacy of the performance in an atmospheric setting. The banter and unaccompanied trademark singing  on carols and Christmas songs from round the country, plus a few seasonal mince pies, boosted the compliments of the season.

They’re truly on the form of their lives and may have been the reason the church was so warm with the  fire burning in their bellies.  Yet down at the core they are an honest and genuine group of guys whose progress from, by their own admittance, their early days of drunken shouting, now sees them as a very polished and honed outfit. With 2017 ticked off, the new year brings them out again as part of The Transports folk opera, festival performances plus a new show based around the character of Johnny Longstaff. Can’t wait.

Martin Freeman once said he was thankful at being alive at the same time as The Unthanks. You could say the same for The Young’uns.

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About the Author

Mike's mellowed in his old age, discovering the delights of traditional folk and acoustic music and the constant stream of new music coming through his passion as a gig-goer, music photographer and writer. With favourite artists and favourite songs which change daily, even hourly, he adds another spoke to the Sonic Bandwagon wheel of fortune.

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