Reviews 2017

Woodman Folk Club - Reviews

Anthony John Clarke

Les Jones 29 September 2017

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Apparently, this is the fourteenth time AJ has been to the club but sadly not since November 2015. How did that happen?

As an old and dear friend of the club and “One of the most engaging and popular entertainers in the country” according to The Independent; you would be forgiven for thinking that he would simply give us the same old patter and the usual songs. Which is indeed what we all hoped for – because we like it. However, this time AJ gave us something quite different.

From the 14 songs he performed 6 were written by others and given the AJ treatment. From his own collection we had That’s Life, Irishman in Paris, The Broken Years and Pitlochry. All firm favourites and often part of his normal set. In addition, we had The Good Old Days – a list of all the things nostalgic and sentimental and much missed by most of us. We lapped it up. Short Weekend is about spending time with “Another Man’s Wife” – which we somehow approved of. This song which goes all the way back to 1992 is one of his first albums and one I have never heard him perform live. Danni and Mr Adams 1967 another earlier song was preceded by a lovely story of his unrequited love for a girl (Danni is not her real name) in school about whom he wrote a poem in class and the kindness of Mr Adams his teacher who on discovering the work did not embarrass him as many would have done but quietly gave it him back. Leslie/Lesley – I didn’t work out which – was a beautiful song he got from last week’s guest Stanley Accrington – about The Sellafield Reprocessing Plant. Somewhere long forgotten now. Post-World War Two Blues was an Al Stewart song which summarised world events between 1945 and 1973 when he wrote it. A different kind of nostalgia. He had high praise indeed for the late Vin Garbutt who gave us all some many memorable songs – The Troubles of Erin – he said managed to tell the truth about a delicate situation without offending the sensitivities of either side.

I have saved until last two items from the evening which show AJ’s ability to give praise where it is well deserved and to leave individuals with experiences they will never forget. He has sung the Bryn Phillips' songs Tomorrow the Sorrow Begins and Silver and Gold as part of his set many times but never both together. Tonight, he gave them both a different feel by performing them one after the other to the accompaniment of a loop drum sequence. Terrific – something Bryn never could have expected when he wrote them. Perhaps the highlight of the evening however was a lasting memory for club regular and firm favourite John Hoare. To say that John is a Ralph McTell aficionado would be undoubtedly putting it extremely mildly. Imagine then how John felt duetting with AJ on The Streets of London. I don’t know if they got chance to rehearse but it certainly worked.

To finish the somewhat overrun evening, we could not let AJ go without Tuesday Night etc. I think we sang more of it that he did.

I have been unable to explain in this review how we laughed non-stop all evening. I have a page of notes full of heckles and audience interaction one of which “Self-respect” can be seen on the appropriate page. There are also photographs somewhere of club members wearing the “one night only” Karaoke tee-shirts. (And they were free). It would take too long to explain this have a look on Facebook.

As ever club stalwarts also provided us with some wonderful support. Nothing to Prove (or so they say) sang Dreams and Alibis; Stealer’s Wheel’s Stuck in the Middle and the old Christy Moore favourite Ordinary Man. Velvet Green gave us their version of Bill Caddick’s Unicorns and Paul Matthews’ Jack and Jill Hill. After the interval Bryn Phillips entertained with two of his songs The London Necropolis Railway and The Throckmorton Coat – which can still be seen at Coughton Court if you so wish.

There is nothing more I can add apart from:

Once again – a wonderful night was had by all. Here’s to the next time.