Feast of Fiddles

Feast of Fiddles
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Feast of Fiddles - Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal. 11th April 2008

So, that’s it. The conglomeration that is Feast of Fiddles is no more. It has ceased to be. Bereft of life, it rests……..at least until next Spring. The 2008 tour, the band’s 15th consecutive drift around England concluded in Kendal on April 11th.

Feast of Fiddles took to the stage in a sold out auditorium in the Brewery Arts Centre and set off on a two-and-a-half hour jaunt through some fantastic music, all the while displaying some jaw-droppingly good musicianship.

The range of music covered the Shadows, the theme music from the Magnificent Seven (co-incidentally alluding to the fact that there are normally seven fiddle players on view, more of that later), numbers from the prolific Mr. Trad. Arr, Deep Purple, Abba, a number from the singing of Bill Monroe and some great numbers penned from within the band itself and more…….

The band kicked off with the movie theme already mentioned, tonight re-named The Magnificent Several and followed it up with the Victor’s Return and the Tar Road to Sligo. This induced smiles on the faces of the audience which they were unable to remove until the show was over.

The first half was mainly given over to the now traditional solo spots and was lead off by the affable Folk Rock Belt based Geordie, Tom Leary. Tom ran us through his own superb compositions of Redman’s Waltz and Kosmos Kapers. Chris Leslie moved in to Hot Club de Kendal mode with some fantastic French swing which was beautifully supported by Martin Vincentimes and John sous Arbre. Ian Cutler is always a pleasure to listen to and his playing of the electric violin on the Banks of the Siur and The Swan were simply a treat. Brian McNeill, entertaining as ever, ran us through some great tunes and even got the audience participating in some non-bagpipe bagpipe tunes!!

The second half of the show kicked off without a single fiddle in sight. Martin Vincent, John Underwood, Dave Harding and Dave Mattacks treated us to the Shadows number Dance On. We also had the bonus of seeing them joined by Brian McNeill playing the yardbroom and also doing the Shadows’ walk!!

Peter Knight performed his magnificent composition Sharpe Goes Walkabout as well as a joint piece with the uber-talented Joe Broughton.

Joe himself performed a great set of tunes including some Hungarian folk dances with further audience participation in the form of clapping in time (almost) to the tunes in 7/4 time.

Only Phil Beer was missed as he was on the Show of Hands tour. Co-incidentally, they played the very same theatre the night before.

Then the Feast of Fiddles outfit moved in to heavy rock with the famous Deep Purple number Black Night intro into the more traditional Butterfly and Drops of Brandy slip jigs.

And there were great songs too. There was a terrific rendering of Geronimo’s Cadillac by Chris Leslie. Then another song from Chris, John Gaudie which he recorded over twenty years ago with Whippersnapper and then again on Fairport Convention’s “Who Knows Where the Time Goes?” album. It’s a very up-tempo song with great Shetland–style tunes to finish.

And driving it all along was Hugh Crabtree, at one point featuring Dam Busters-style flying helmet (you just had to be there) and all the while playing magnificent melodeon.

Hugh sang the traditional Pretty Nancy of Yarmouth with the emboldened voice of a slighted lover while the band drove the rythym along with verve and passion. A belter!!

The song which stole the show, for myself and Justine at least, was the very last number of the last encore of the last night of the tour. Hugh himself said, “If ever there was a last-night-of-the-tour-song, this is it”. It was We May or Might Never All Meet Here Again. After which the band received a thoroughly-deserved standing ovation.

Roll on next Spring…..can’t wait.

Jack Westwood – April 2008

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