Reviews 2017

Woodman Folk Club - Reviews

Union Jill

Union Jill

John & Carol Hoare 5 May 2017

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None of that worrying about what to say in a review with Union Jill ... Sharon Winfield and Helen Turner give you enough material for a whole season’s reviews!

Bryn quoted a previous review in introducing them as, “Favourite post-feminist harmony-singing folkies”. On stage, this was quickly corrected by Sharon and Helen in favour of, “Radical second wave women”. At this point we’re beginning to think this might be a bit different (perhaps with a hint of a feminist theme?). By the end of the evening the floor is covered with paper aeroplanes, bubbles have filled the air, and a clothes line is strung with paper figures containing notes about each audience member’s favourite body part! According to Union Jill, there are two types of audience – those that sit and listen, and those who will, “Do stuff”. They had correctly identified the Woodman audience as the latter! Oh, and they cut our resident heckler off at the knees with the comment, “You’re going to find this really difficult”, when inviting the audience to write the name of their favourite body part on one of the little paper figures. Well, he asked for it! He ALWAYS asks for it!

Union Jill don’t do covers. To quote them, “We can’t agree on them, so we do all our own material”. That statement gives an early insight into Union Jill’s performance. Their material is original, and in between songs, they disagree a lot! What it doesn’t tell you, is that their songs are beautifully crafted and precisely performed. We always think the sound check tells you a lot about how precise a performance is going to be. We enjoyed the sound check! Technically, they blend and harmonise perfectly.

The banter started with the introduction to their opening song, ‘Witch Hunt’. Cue banter about Helen resembling a witch. The banter is very Yorkshire – blunt and to the point. If you are the kind of folk club goer who thinks that the bonny black hare is a little bunny rabbit, then you could possibly be a little shocked at times. But then, what folkie doesn’t know the truth about the bonny black hare? Or, indeed, the issue of hair loss?

Sharon on guitar and mandola, and Helen on guitar and mandolin, have a variety and depth that makes the ‘live music’ experience very special indeed. Combined with a wide range of subject matter and inter-song banter, this makes an evening fly by. In no time they were finishing their set with (feminist anthem?) ‘Sisterhood’. Their well-deserved encore was the appropriately titled ‘Home Again’.

The evening had opened with Nothing to Prove, again proving they have, er, nothing to prove (I mean they are an accomplished act, and we should consider booking them some time!). They were followed by Velvet Green (Sue demonstrating an impressive mastery of Gaelic – mind you, we wouldn’t know if it wasn’t right!).

Bryn Phillips was MC for the evening, and opened the second half with a couple of songs – all done with his usual aplomb.