Assembly Festival Garden review: Jon Boden & the Remnant Strings
Jon Boden and the Remnant Strings, Assembly Festival Garden, Coventry, Queen of Flanders Tent, August 30 - one night only.
By John Hudson
The singer of the support act got it right- ‘This is the best tent I’ve ever been in!’
The venue proved to be a surprisingly impressive live music venue, providing appropriate intimacy for Jon Boden’s thoughtful, lyrical songs, without compromising on the quality of the sound of the acoustic band.This comprised three stunning instrumentalists on violin, viola and cello, with Jon himself switching effortlessly between violin, guitar and concertina.
His set was mainly based around three dystopian albums which consider a post-apocalyptic future - Songs from the Floodplain (2009), Afterglow (2017) and Last Mile Home, which is just released. If you think that sounds gloomy, then you’d be wrong. The songs were engaging, melodic and beautifully sung and played, and it helps when a singer as good as Jon Boden ensures every lyric is intelligible, and the between songs chat is witty and informative.
He also included traditional material, in particular the stunning Rose in June, a lengthy but gripping Scottish ballad only discovered by chance being sung on a dockside in Nova Scotia as recently as the 1920s. Another which stood out was Rigs of Time, a song from the Napoleonic Wars which laments the exploitation of the public by tradespeople during a time of national emergency - contemporary relevance anyone?
Throughout, his all-female accompanists provided wonderful texture to the songs. and instrumental interludes when Jon joined them on violin were thrilling.
Support was provided by a young Sheffield quartet called Misra, whose contemporary folk was an interesting blend of jazz, Celtic and Asian influences.
If Jon Boden is touring and you’re nearby, you should try to see him.
For information on the Assembly Festival Garden in Coventry, go to: https://coventry2021.co.uk/explore/assembly-festival-garden/