Review: Richard Thompson, Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker, The Lowry, Salford
You may well have read our recent interview with David Agnew, director of the Manchester Folk Festival, where he talked about the exciting state of folk and acoustic music these days. What better proof could there be of this assessment, than to see HOME buzzing on the first day of that international festival while across town, The Lowry’s biggest theatre has long been sold out for the return of the mighty Richard Thompson, with support from an act first seen at none other than Folk Expo/Homegrown in Bury, the very event which gave rise to the Manchester Folk Festival?
It is now 50 years since Richard Thompson’s first band, Fairport Convention, appeared. Five decades which have seen the man emerge as quite probably the UK’s finest songwriter and musician. I even once saw Thompson quite literally play his guitar one-handed while fixing something technical with his amp, and still deliver the sort of stunning solo that had other musicians (and we were at Cambridge Folk Festival, so there were quite a few around) reduced to shaking their heads in awe. Over the last few months, his not unreasonably titled, bare bones albums Acoustic Classics Volumes One and Two, plus their companion volume Acoustic Rarities, have served as a salutary reminder of just what an astonishing songwriter he is.
What tunesmith would not be proud of a catalogue that boasts such randomly-chosen gems as Meet on The Ledge, Galway To Graceland, Beeswing, I Misunderstood and 1952 Vincent Black Lightning? All were present and correct, along with a slew of other acoustically-rendered classics and a generously introduced version of Who Knows Where the Time Goes, penned by his late and fondly remembered Fairport bandmate Sandy Denny. What more need be said?
Denny, Fairport Convention and UK folk rock of the 60s loom large, it’s fair to assume, in the consciousness of the splendid guitar and vocal duo Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker, who slipped a version of Reynardine into their quiet storm of a half hour set, along with Nick Drake’s Time Has Told Me. I truly have no intention of damning with faint praise if I say that their own material is nearly as impressive. Josienne’s voice is increasingly robust and her onstage persona is far more confident and even more engaging than before, honed no doubt by the rigours of touring. Even painfully shy, if technically brilliant, guitarist Walker allowed himself a bit of eye contact before they graciously accepted the audience’s accolades, signed a shedload of merchandise and zoomed off back to Manchester Folk Festival after a job well done.
- “Come for the machetes, stay for the political insights.” Author David Nolan talks to Northern Soul about his new book
- Photo Gallery: The Fenwick Christmas Window, Newcastle
- Good News in Focus: Manchester Camerata
- “There remains a perception that people in the North wear cloth caps and go off to the mill.” Campaigner and former chief prosecutor Nazir Afzal
Advertising and Sponsorship Opportunities
For advertising and sponsorship opportunities contact Northern Soul’s Founder and Editor Helen Hugent at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sign up for Northern Soul newsletter
The Northern Soul Poll
Recent Tweets for @Northern_Soul_
Covid Tiers explained: Tier 1 - Pints Tier 2 - Pints with chips Tier 3 - No Pints
From the archives: The current COVID-19 pandemic may see us turning to the big names to secure our reading fix but there are smaller businesses in our region which desperately need our support. This #BlackFriday, why not buy from Northern Indies instead? northernsoul.me.uk/how-are-in… pic.twitter.com/UFbXkmdxmB
“Come for the machetes, stay for the political insights.” Author David Nolan talks to Northern Soul's Andy Murray about his new book, The Mermaid's Pool. northernsoul.me.uk/david-nola…
@CathyCrabb Hey there - did you get my email?