Reviews 2003

Woodman Folk Club - Reviews

Steve Tilston
Bryn Phillips 17 October 2003

I was surprised at the turnout. The car park was full to overflowing and no free seats in the room. It’s probably because Steve Tilston, like many artists nowadays, manages a mailing list – so a hint to some of you old stalwarts out there who rely on your reputation only – it’s not enough. Get a mailing list going.

That being said, the crowd was there, but no Steve Tilston. Ian announced that he had last been heard of on the M42 motorway. The local singers got stuck in though. I started the evening off and was delighted to hear that the audience were in good voice. Thanks everyone. Then Nothing to Prove came on and it was nice to see Paul in good form as he told some of his risqué jokes. "Oops there’s a child in the room. I’d take that one back if I could. But I can’t. Never mind". A nice set from NTP and then Mick "Where’s the Banjo?" Harrington did a rare but very welcome turn, and, regardless of the jokes, it was a delight to see his banjo emerge. Whilst all this was going on Steve Tilston arrived, quietly saying hello to everyone. That’s the nice thing about folk clubs. The superstars are just part of the audience until they go on stage.

Steve started off the evening with "I Need a Cup of Coffee", probably inspired by his hold-up on the M42. This is an up-tempo bluesy sort of number; not typical Tilston, but it set the tone for the evening. Tonight we weren’t going to get all of the well-known numbers, but a majority proportion of the newer ones. What is typical Tilston? "Slip Jigs and Reels", "Coronardo and the Turk", or perhaps "The Naked Highwayman"? Well, although his voice and guitar playing are very distinctive his work is so varied that it’s not really possible to define "Typical Tilston". There’s always one song that everyone talks about and tonight it was "The Sniper’s Tale" a moving song, with a masterful build up of tension and a neat juxtaposition of ideas.

We only had a short interval and then back into the music with a nice set from The Crag Band. Steve Tilston then continued to give us some more wonderful songs and music. There is no doubt that although only a few of his songs are blues based he has the knack of making a riff run and run. Not a simple riff either. His hands span a goodly portion of the neck and he makes full use of his reach but never makes it look difficult. Anyway, the riffs go on and build up. One of the songs which really defined the evening for me was "Rare Thing". Everyone sang along, the guitar playing was relaxed, laid back and all over the frets and the words were, to say the least, clever. "Is a crow’s heart as black as its wing?" Great stuff. I don’t know what it is about his music, but it has echoes of Paul Metsers. It’s probably a combination of the music and the use of language and poetry in the lyrics. Very well crafted material. He finished the evening with Slip Jigs and Reels, before a very well deserved encore.