Oysterband electrify folk festival
Warwick Folk Festival, until July 30.
Oysterband certainly know how to fill a dance floor.
A sizeable part of the nearly-full main tent at Warwick Folk Festival were up and ready to dance before the five-piece band (above) had played a note - and then it was full tilt with their brand of electric folk-rock.
The band has been going for just over 40 years and as they themselves say – no modesty required – they are pretty good at this now.
They raced through some of their own great songs with barely a pause – When I’m Up I Can’t Get Down; the brilliant Pogues-ish jig Here’s to You; Dancing as Fast as I Can, and Oxford Girl.
The pace rarely slackened, either on the stage or on the floor, but the show was probably stolen by the slow anti-banker anthem I Built This House – a lovely tune, beautifully performed.
On Friday (July 28) The Spooky Men’s Chorale wowed the festival with their combination of Monty Pythonesque silliness and the most sublime harmonies.
The 16 burly guys dressed in black and sporting weird and wonderful hats and dubious facial hair, sing like angels.
From beautiful versions of the Beach Boys’ hit In my Room, and the plaintive Tom Waits song Picture in a Frame, to traditional Georgian (the country) melodies, the a capella singing was breathtaking.
But it was the final chant that brought the house down.
It was introduced as an ancient Sufi prophecy of the latter days, which would be marked by the coming of three brothers singing very high and sporting beautiful hair. It turned out to be a very funny tribute to the Bee Gees and the brothers Rah’abin and Maharis Ghibb, and the greatest of them, Ba’hari.
Earlier, also in the main tent, the excellent Coventry-based singer-songwriter Rob Halligan (right) won over the crowd with an easy charm and combination of his own work and better-known folk songs. His version of Dougie MacLean’s I’m Ready for the Storm was outstanding.
But a big hit of the festival’s first full day were Crows. The four piece line-up dates back to the mid-70s, and their experience shows. They played in the small and packed lecture theatre at the Myton School site, a venue that suited their brand of intimate chat and playing perfectly.
They served up a wonderful mix of traditional folk ballads and their own material, including the haunting and beautiful Sidmouth Days, written by the band’s Mick Ryan.
Watch out for a festival round-up from Pete Willow.