Ooff, take the finger out of my ear, it is surely the biggest assembled gig of CC this year (in terms of individual artists), and BM was there, paid for it, yeah, so haters (and there are a few in the folky community, see previous Betty run-ins with them), can say what they wish…
This will be short review (not that short – Ed) of a long gig, which started with a solo recorded voice (MacColl?) singing the Burns classic ‘A Man’s A Man etc’ given it is the Bard’s night, a frozen 25th January, and a capacity crowd at the C***cert Hall awaits. So it is the centenary of EW’s birth, a good reason BM supposes to get some people together.
So his sons do just that. They form the basis of the band, along with other assorted and star players, to give their Dad a memorial gig. They were pretty explicit about the remit – no maudlin-isms, just some good tunes…
They did not quite conform to that! A number of songs (‘Alone’ for example) are the sort of balladry Morrissey might have rejected for being “too downbeat”.
Due to this tendency there were several times where BM fell asleep in the first half, although Jarvis Cocker’s contribution was good-humoured and (can’t remember what he sung) well-sung.
The core of it was the English folk mafias, sorry dynasties, of MacColl and McCarthy/Waterson.
There were also some shanties, have never reviewed any shanties, but Yes Sailor…
Eliza Carthy did some good turns on vocals and fiddle, with her dad Martin C providing good contributions, then her mum came out later to sing ‘Move On’ and give the wittiest banter of the night, not bad as she is quite old, you know.
The second half ramped up the excitement a bit – Paul Buchanan came on to sing ‘The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face’ and one of the MacColl juniors prefaced this by listing the number of people who have covered his songs, noting that his parents (mum is Peggy Seeger, not available tonight due to health and distance issues) had a “chamber of horrors” record shelf (yes some people still have them) of all the nightmare cover versions of his songs over the years.
There were a number of songs about the Scottish traveling community and Sheila Stewart (now dead, 2014) was paid tribute to, presumably originally booked for this night. The song ‘Move On’ (Waterson N on vocals for this), also sampled by Martyn Bennett (see BM review of Bennett tribute gig) was very effective tonight, perfect mix of social commentary and good tune.
BM is currently heavily distracted by other music (Cold Cave, Best Girl Athlete), poor form to mention it in a review of something else, but bear with her here, CC gigs can be a bit of a strain, that Concert Hall carpet has not improved, hated it when it opened, still hate it now.
The last couple of tracks were the best-known – ‘Dirty Old Town’ played very low-key (was Shane McGowan unavailable?) and ‘The Manchester Rambler’ played as an ensemble piece by the whole lot of them, a rousing number which mentioned Kinder Scout (well if you don’t know, then you don’t care, it was a preamble to a ramble, we didn’t have the civil rights movement in the UK, we had ramblers associations, draw your own conclusions and ramble on – was hoping the Naked Rambler might made an appearance but he was also unavailable, at her Majesty’s pleasure, missus).
Have not too many other decent reviews of this night but since the brothers MacColl went to the trouble, it seemed appropriate to mark to what was itself a fitting tribute.