Reviews 2004

Woodman Folk Club - Reviews

David Love 7 May 2004

The great thing about living in a vacuum is that it makes judging things on their own merit a lot easier. So when Nothing to Prove sing a great chorus song like Ride On (if that’s it official title) I can join in and lose myself in a vain attempt at harmonies without sub-consciously making comparisons to any original. To me, theirs is the definitive version. The last time I came to the Woodman (about 4 years ago) I can only remember spots from the band members as individuals. Getting together seems to have been a good idea – a sum of the parts thing, I suppose.

Similarly Armstrong’s Army from the BICA Band. At least I learnt that this is a Jez Lowe song. Their version is the only one I have ever heard but it is an effective audience grabber, all the more powerful for the unaccompanied vocal arrangement.

I saw Grant Baynham at The Lock at Wolverley about 16 years ago (he was doing a floor spot!) and promised myself that I would make a point of seeing him again as soon as possible. I kept that promise on Friday and was revisited by the same sensation of jealous awe that is reserved for those individuals who remind you that if you think you may have a germ of talent yourself well, actually, you haven’t. Still, as the grudging subsided from the admiration you can only wonder why there was no disappointed queue outside offering ridiculous sums to touts just to press ears to the door.

Grant is, of course, only the ‘g’ that makes up the Hg of QuickSilver. Did anyone else find themselves wondering if the ‘H’, Hilary Spencer, has a close relative up north who has also done rather well for herself? With feet planted confidently on stage, the hand gestures, the delivery and even the grin, the possibility of a genetic link with Victoria Wood would be an interesting research project. The rapport with Grant Baynham’s instrumentals and vocals has a fluency that can only come from thorough rehearsal and makes light of the complexity of the arrangements. The timing, both musical and comic, in Double Yodel was spot on but to pick any one song as a highlight is impossible. Every one could have been an encore item – not a single padder amongst them. Grant Baynham’s discriminating use of language means that his songs avoid lazy rhymes and scansion and only throw up clichés when he is using them deliberately for effect (and usually to subvert them). His lyrics also demonstrate that it is possible for a song to be both witty and moving.

On that point it was great to hear Hilary’s rendition of Jake Thackray’s "Hair of the Widow of Bridlington" with an arrangement by Grant that preserved the subtlety of Jake’s original chord inversions, which often become oversimplified to straight majors and minors in other performers’ adaptations.

Talk about a value for money night. 

Oh yes, by the way, David Love’s two song spot was as flawless and life enhancing as ever! 

By, errr, David Love