Monday, 21 April 2008
Bellowhead @ Lewes
Town Hall, Lewes
Sat 19 Apr
Big band, big sound. Very intricate and very together, and musically stunning. English traditional music has never sounded like this. There's 11 of them, playing most instruments you can think of, and despite the prominence of the brass section in the line-up (trumpet, trombone, reeds and sousaphone) they produce a wide range of colour and texture and some subtle rhythmic effects, and rarely drown out the fiddles. And no-one could subdue Jon Boden's singing, so don't even think of trying.
We missed John Spiers and Giles Lewin, whose places were taken by Saul Rose and the "annoyingly youthful" Sam (?), who even seemed to be playing Giles' pipes; you couldn't see the joins, which is as it should be. There's a Bellowhead @ Lewes picture-set from row B on Flickr.
If you don't know them, try their web-site and their MySpace, which has a few tracks to listen to; there's also a whole slew of videos on YouTube that should entice you to go out and buy their record - quick, before the next one comes out in the Autumn; there'll also be a live DVD, "coming soon".
The acoustics at Lewes Town Hall are not all that good - it was fine down the front, but the high domed roof seems to suck out a lot of the sound the further back you get. We noticed the same thing happening at the Blowzabella gig in the smaller hall in November. I don't know what the boppers at the back were able to make of it, I'm just glad we got down the front, even if it did mean sitting down . . .
They're touring for a few weeks, then they're doing a load of festivals this summer, so you could treat yourself to an open-air blast as well.
Meanwhile 50 yards away at the Lewes Arms club, Martin Carthy was doing an all-day workshop followed by an evening gig. As Jon Boden put it, "Lewes must be the town with the highest concentration of folk clubs per square capita . . . "