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The Proclaimers

The Yorkshire Coast Gigs team were thrilled to have the opportunity to review Beverley Festival in its 30th anniversary year, and first time at new home, Beverley Racecourse.

FRIDAY

The Proclaimers: with support from Chris Helme and Edwina Hayes

Main Stage, 7.30pm

Friday evening was spent in the Main Stage tent.  At first, we thought it was a shame that the acts were undercover rather than in the open air, or at least under open-sided marquees; over the course of a wet and windy weekend, this opinion changed.  

There was certainly a good vibe in the tent as people gathered, some seated on chairs, many at the front on the grass.  Chris Helme is first up, and accompanied by his band for a 25 minute set.  They play several songs from album 'The Rookery' and some from an upcoming album, due out in November.

Chris jokes that he's less of a warm-up, more of a 'calm-down' act.  The songs are mellow, and beautiful to boot.  Summer Girl, which he dedicates to his wife (joking that he has to, otherwise there'll be trouble) is yearning, heartfelt, perfectly suited to his gritty, emotional vocal style.  New tracks include Shining a Light, and give a welcome taste of the goodies to come with the new album.

Covering Ooh La La by the Faces, Chris manages to get the crowd singing along, and certainly warmed up.  He ends with Pleased, an old favourite about the evils of drink, and the full force of grittiness is unleashed amidst an echoey, bassy, bluesy mix.  It all ends too soon, but thankfully there are more opportunities to see him play over the course of the festival weekend, in different venues.

Chris Helme

Chris Helme

Chris Helme

Edwina Hayes follows, a festival favourite in her fourteenth visit here.  She goes straight into the very beautiful Leave a Light on for You.  She has a few strange crushes - songwriter Richard Thomas in his beret, actor Steve Buscemi - which leads into her Boardwalk Empire (tv show) inspired new song, Ain't it Sweet.  Certainly the opening sounds worthy of a film soundtrack.  This is followed with Want You To Stay, a melancholic ode to risk-taking.  

In a tribute to being support for the Proclaimers, Edwina dedicates a song to herself and Chris Helme, the jaunty Open The Show For You, her own and a lovely, lilting melody.  She ends with Randy Newman's Feels Like Home, which seems more than appropriate as she has waxed lyrical throughout her set about the family feeling, the warmth and friendliness of the festival, which is certainly witnessed in the mix of ages and number of families present, even as the evening gets late and the headline act are preparing to  take to the stage.

By now the tent is packed, and the seated audience at the front are standing, amidst a heady buzz of expectation.  The Proclaimers dive straight in with Whatever You've Got, and it proves popular, people dancing and clapping, kids and senior citizens alike.  There band consists of a keyboard player, drummer, bass player and a guitar player, as well as the twin brothers.  They crash straight through another three tracks, mixing rock and roll sounds with clap-along tunes, before there's any pause for banter with the crowd.  They follow this with the much-loved Letter to America.  

There is some instrument changeover as the band guitarist converts to a mandolin; at times the pianist switches to an accordion, and singer Craig accompanies Cap In Hand, one of their earlier, and more political, songs with flageolet.  Let's Get Married has the effect of making some of the crowd romantic and cuddly, while others are amusingly awkward; Charlie takes over the singing on more recent track, Scotland's Story, which has a traditional feel and is catchy at the same time.  Eighteen songs in, the energy levels have not dropped and expectation has only increased, and during this song, Then I Met You, some wild dancing seems to have broken out.  The spirit continues with the 2001 comeback track, There's a Touch.  Finally it is time for 500 Miles, but it's been a worthwhile and entertaining wait, and there is uproar from the crowd when it's over, a riot of applause and delight, appreciation of this talented, no nonsense act.  It's been a storming opener to the festival.

The Proclaimers

The Proclaimers

The Proclaimers

The Proclaimers

The Proclaimers

The Proclaimers

The Proclaimers

The Proclaimers

The Proclaimers

The Proclaimers

 

SATURDAY

The Young 'Uns and Coco & The Butterfields - Concert & Dance Marquee, 2.30pm

The Whiskey Dogs and Eric Brace & Peter Cooper - Main Stage, 2.30pm

Frumptarn Guggenband, outdoor procession, afternoon

Lau, Concert & Dance Marquee, 10pm

 

The Young 'Uns

The Young 'Uns are a three-piece from Teesside, with a line in worker ballads from the area.  Starting out acapella with one such example by Ron Angel, The Chemical Worker's Song is less than cheerful, with it's refrain of "And it's go, boys, go, They'll time your every breath; And every day you're in this place, You're two days nearer death" but in their tight and focused style, it makes a gripping start.

The lads themselves are affable, with easy, bouncy banter, picking up accordion and guitar for their next song, Fare Thee Well, Stockton Town.  It starts with a lone voice, building in the instruments and creating a lovely harmony.  By the time it has finished, the wind is creaking through the tent, but they bandmates joke that it's their guitarist, Sean Cooney's playing that is 'creaking'.  We're treated to more songs featuring the strong yet gentle vocals of Michael Hughes, joined as the song progresses to feature the other two and deepening down in tone until it seems to segue effortlessly into a bawdy, more up-tempo reel which has the crowd almost involuntarily swaying and tapping along in sync.  

There are shanties, and there are many comedy moments, particularly provided by David Eagle, who between accordion sessions rips the mickey out of his bandmates, delighting the crowd with his acid wit.  Michael bears the brunt of this because, it appears, he forgot to bring the CD's for sale.  There is poignancy too, when they perform When Our Grandfathers Said No, their song about Oswald Mosley and his blackshirts marching into Stockton in 1933, and being stopped in their tracks by a 2,000-strong gang of locals in opposition.  Even in this, there's a small chuckle from the audience at the lyrical realism - "it was Sunday morning in Stockton town, and last night's vomit was warm on the ground..."  This highly enjoyable set was topped off with a cover of James' Sit Down, which was enhanced in unexpected ways by the accordion element.

-The Young 'Uns

 

Coco & The Butterfields

This five piece are vibrant, musically and visually.  Even though singer Tom Twyman is losing his voice, they pack a punch with their self-branded 'Fip Fok' style.  Featuring  Dulcima Showan (violin & vocals), Jamie Smith (beatbox), Micah Hyson (double bass), and on banjo 'handsome' Rob Wicks (their nickname, but it's not inappropriate), they fuse together a range of styles and make folk achingly hip.

Astronaut is a chilled-out gem starting out with male and female vocal intertwining, building in the double bass and guitar, occasional banjo & violin and finally the beatboxing kicks in - it's awesome, a fun track that'll have you singing about pirate girls for some time to come.  They later manage to blend one of their own tracks, Walls, with a bit of Whitney Houston's I Will Always Love You - it sounds like it shouldn't work, but it does.  There's some fun shuffle-step dancing from Tom and Jamie while Dulcima sings this, and amidst the smoky-sweet sound of her voice, an array of photographers have clocked on to the band's session and the snapperazzi are suddenly out in force.  

Mother features a good stompy start and builds speed, and there are some wild dance moves going on down the centre aisle of the marquee.  Next up is new single Warriors (available now on ITunes) - it gave me little shivers, an anthemic track with bass-slapping power and funky punctuation.  Finishing up with The Hip Hop Song, Jamie's beatbox skills, usually subtle and sewn perfectly into the fabric of the musical whole, is given a showcase, and it is excellent; he entertains the crowd with comical talent and rhythmic skill.  Unsurprisingly, there's quite the queue for CD's at the end of their fun, inspiring set.

-Dulcima and Tom, Coco & The Butterfields

-Crowd enjoying Coco & The Butterfields

 

The Whiskey Dogs

Walking in, I'm immediately aware of the unobtrusive nature of the many players and patrons in presence.  This was a knowing crowd, an expectant crowd.  I wait quietly, while a gentle cooing temptress sings pleasantly in the background.  This only adds to the anticipation of what could be a breakthrough moment in this bands career.  The Whiskey Dogs appear, and their first song begins with a pleasant steady stomp epitomising traditional Americana Jugband style, an aurora of Memphis in the 1920s.

The instrumentation only reassures this premise.  The band plays Tear It Down and use a kazoo, the vibe is laid back and easy, the fiddle decisively bowed, whilst the vocal melody is beautifully contrapuntal to the confidently played mandolin.

Swiftly moving through the tracks, the band plays a square dance number in which the fiddle and mandolin combine in a heavenly way and the room is filled with a decadence of multi-tones.  

The crowd coo wildly as every song is devoured with pleasure.  Whiskey Dogs release their album, 'Hand Me Down' during the festival, and if this session is anything to go by, it will be in hot demand.

 

Eric Brace & Peter Cooper

Hailing from Nashville, Eric Brace and Pete Cooper are a slick, professional folk country duo.  Their set is packed with solid harmonies and thoughtful, metaphor-laden, comic yet honest lyrics.  The sound encapsulates the wry yet great sense of the ‘ill-fated American Dream' persona. 

Cool, sincere, funny and always polite, they successfully craft a perfect mix of whimsical rhetoric and meaningful story out of every 3 minute masterpiece .  The clarity of their words makes them accessible to all, helping anyone to relate to their many scrapes and escapades.  This is Americana of high quality, eloquently put and confidently performed.

 

Frumptarn Guggenband

This Barnsley-based band caused a stir during Saturday afternoon in their dalmation-print suits, leading a trail through the festival village to the centre outdoor platform, where they delighted the assembled crowd.  Playing brass with percussion accompaniment, they served up a guggen-style take on pop and rock tracks such as Wipeout and Seven Nation Army.  The quirky nature of their overall style was delightful, and they made one little girl's day with a brass-tastic rendition of Happy Birthday.  A seemingly impromptu and unexpected highlight ahead of their later performance on the Main Stage.

 

-Frumptarn Guggenband

 

 

Lau

The four-times winners of the BBC Radio 4 Folk Award did not disappoint.  The three piece made their songs remarkably textured; slowing down for cadence and building to amazing crescendos, layering harmonic phrases.  Singing on their second track, the guitarist has what one might describe as a traditional folk voice; smooth, crisp yet highly emotive.  Some of their songs feature an anarchic disharmony that complements the themes of the songs, and they use dynamics such as the almost breathy sound of static on an accordion to create an emotive soundscape.  It is clear to see why Lau are at the forefront of folk music. With Show of Hands competing for audience in the main tent, it is testament to Lau that the concert marquee is packed.

 

SUNDAY

Sunday was largely spent in the excellent and incredibly welcoming Moonbeams Wold Top tent, where we caught up with some of the acts including Yorkshire Coast locals who had travelled to perform at the festival.

First up is Bridlington's Ben Parcell.  He's just finished his session in the Moonbeams Tent, and it's his first time at the festival, where he's been camping for the weekend and he has enjoyed it very much.  He's particularly enjoyed Show of Hands, Chris Helme and the Whiskey Dogs.  It's been a great opportunity for him, performing just ahead of his single release.  I Don't Need You launched on Monday 24th June, via the label 'In at the Eye' records.  There is a video on YouTube which folk fans can check out, and his EP is due for release later in the year.  Ben's also appearing at Staxtonbury and Oxjam in Dewsbury, as well as a number of gigs which you can find on his facebook page.

Next, we meet with Anna Shannon, on her 3rd visit to Beverley Festival.  With a number of albums already under her belt, Anna explains her latest, 'Horses, Beasts & Fairytales' is currently being finished ready for release in the autumn.  Appearing at a number of festivals across the UK this year, including the Moonbeams Wold Top Festival on 13th July, Galtres Festival on 25th August and Hull Shanty Fest, 30th August among many more, she is also excited about the Enkhuisen Shanty Fest in Holland, where she will be next February.  In the meantime, she's got a side project - an illustrated myth & magic adventure story, 'The Calling of the Dolgesis', for ages 5 to 95; and plans for her subsequent album, a celebration of Old England.  This will have a medieval theme, featuring an array of unusual instruments including a mando-cello and a bowed psaltry.  It's safe to say it's all go for Anna, her energy and enthusiasm for this myriad of projects coming across clearly.  If you're interested in hearing more about these upcoming projects, follow Anna's Facebook page.

Finally, we chat to Dogfinger, who returns to the Moonbeams tent having been a guest previously about 3 years hence.  He was first on this morning, and though he knows that can sometimes be hard, he's happy to say the vibe was very chilled.  He also makes and sells guitars, and is thrilled to have made a sale off the back of the gig! Chatting about the new home at Beverley Racecourse, he's been enjoying it very much and felt it's been slick, everyone very helpful and chilled out.  He's looking forward to appearing at Beverley Blues Festival in October, Hull Trinity Music Festival and possibly Hull Freedom Festival in September.  He can't emphasise enough (and we have to agree) that the Moonbeams tent is an amazing space to play and listen to music - Leila (Cooper, organiser of the Moonbeams Festival) makes it homely and welcoming.  He's also loved seeing the Whiskey Dogs, and the Duncan MacFarlane band.  He's working on a new mini-album, with a working title of 'Jesus and the Sea of Bananas'.  Check him out on Facebook.

SUMMARY

This is a great festival, with a very welcoming atmosphere.  Even with the move to a larger home, it didn't feel like it was 'outstretching' itself; there were, as a visitor, what you might call 'teething issues' with the new site but nothing I feel worth mentioning here, and is not to take away from the friendliness of everyone working there.  It's also great on the family friendly front, with a dedicated children's tent, fairground attractions and plenty of open spaces too.  There was special festival beer available from the Wold Top Brewery, and on the whole food and drink prices were not bad for a festival.  Other added-value festival features included the Craft tent, with an array of vintage clothes, luxury food and beautiful jewellery and craft items.  There are other stalls scattered around the festival village including musical instrument stalls and giftwares.  Clearly though, where the 30th anniversary really excelled itself was on the music front, and here's to the next 30 years of Beverley Festival. 

Reviews by the Yorkshire Coast Gigs Contributors team, edited by Katherine Dunn-Mines.

Photos by Rusty Imaging & Kadium Photography.

-Relaxing in the Moonbeams Wold Top Tent

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