Reviews 2016

Woodman Folk Club - Reviews


Les Jones 28 October 2016

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“How many of you are Quicksilver Virgins?” we were asked before the set began. At my age, I didn’t want to admit to anything so embarrassing, so I kept my hand down. As it turned out I may have been the only one. Quicksilver is Hilary Spencer (Mrs Ackroyd and Artisan) and Grant (as in Ant this side of Rugby – as in Aunt the other side) Baynham. As it happens “Quicksilver Virgin” I may have been but I had seen both before in their previous lives. I just hadn’t  put the two together.

I try to begin reviews by describing the night’s act but tonight I felt unable to do so. What better then to “borrow” their own descriptions of each other from their website:

“Hilary has one of the most staggering voices in British acoustic music.” True, together with a wonderful stage presence and a quirky sense of humour.

“(Grant) … is a formidable songwriter and has an energy and enthusiasm which create a high-powered performance of material from virtually every genre you can imagine. He’s also one of the funniest people I have ever met." Also, true. I must add amazing guitar player.
Just so you know the name “Quicksilver” derives from the initials of their first names (H)ilary – (G)rant = Hg the chemical symbol for Mercury or Quicksilver. Clever Huh?

Their repertoire consists of half other peoples’ songs and half that are made up – sometimes I noticed at the same time. In simply listing the songs in each set it is impossible to imbue the sense of humour; funny stories and interesting trivia that lay behind them, but it will have to do.

Singing the Day is reputed to be the only happy folk song about waking in the morning. There followed three “wet bobs” songs which are sea songs that are not about the sea. (Don’t ask me) The Kiss – played and sung in two keys; A song about the Chunnel which admittedly has a lovely version of Charles Trenet’s La Mer on the end and a song about a tragedy which occurred to the water powered ferry which once ran across the River Severn in 1964. Steady as She Goes – when you write a song about water that has no tides don’t say it does in the song or you’ll have to rename the stretch of water. Distraction was a super piece of ragtime and I admit my favourite of the night. The set ended with a wonderful two handed version of Victoria Wood’s Barry and Freda.

Flanders and Swann’s Madeira M’Dear kicked off the second set. The Lover’s Ghost is a 14 verse (I counted them) version of the traditional folk song which does not appear in the Child Ballads. You had to there to appreciate it fully. Not That Old Thing with audience participation preceded No One Writes a Blues Song Anymore – except presumably this one. We had one of Grant’s interesting theories on the pronunciation of the name Edith as a precursor to Hilary’s amazing version of Piaf’s La Vie En Rose which was intended to finish the night. Of course, we could not let them go without and encore. So, they gave us two. Tom Lehrer’s Element Song and a seasonal song about Spring which I failed to get the title of.
If Derry and Debbie keep booking such superb acts I am going to run out of superlatives.

Club regulars Velvet Green started the night with 4 songs and Bryn Phillips provided the second half support with 3 songs as well as skilfully guiding us through the raffle and the rest of the evening.Thanks to all concerned, because of you:

“A wonderful time was had by all.”