Seamus Fogarty, Meilyr Jones, Field Music

Fri­day’s line­up at The Trades Heb­den Bridge con­sists of three acts who one might not ini­tial­ly think, ‘Well, these three are going to work well togeth­er’. What actu­al­ly tran­spired was an evening of thought­ful and chal­leng­ing music, each act com­ple­ment­ing the oth­er in such a way to cre­ate a sat­is­fy­ing bal­ance of gen­res and artistry. Actu­al­ly both Fri­day and Sat­ur­day night’s gigs were orig­i­nal­ly designed as part of a week­end fes­ti­val curat­ed by Caught By the Riv­er, but it was post­poned after severe floods hit the region. It was decide how­ev­er that the two evening events would go ahead as planned.

A defin­ing char­ac­ter­is­tic shared by all three of Fri­day’s artists was a mas­ter­ful abil­i­ty to head into exper­i­men­tal and chal­leng­ing direc­tions. Not tak­ing the path most trav­elled, this was mate­r­i­al which veered sud­den­ly and unex­pect­ed­ly into more unchar­tered ter­ri­to­ry, chal­leng­ing con­ven­tion­al­i­ty in phras­ing and instrumentation.

Sea­mus Fog­a­r­ty, above, is one such exper­i­men­tal artist. I put him in the cat­e­go­ry labelled ‘folk’ but quick­ly realised he was encom­pass­ing much more, there were ele­ments of coun­try and elec­tron­i­ca. His com­po­si­tions veer from the emo­tion­al and cere­bral to the more con­crete, with humor­ous accounts of his time as a brick­lay­er in Chica­go (one num­ber notably about a par­tic­u­lar­ly unpleas­ant char­ac­ter on the build­ing site). He mum­bles half way through about hav­ing dropped his lap­top ear­li­er and there­fore his set won’t be quite what he had planned. Not that this mat­tered, he turned the inci­dent into an amus­ing tale.

Meilyr Jones is equal­ly dif­fi­cult to place in any one box, his music cov­ers a wide land­scape of sound, and his expres­sive voice and flam­boy­ant­ly orches­tral arrange­ments add up to a very unique sound, such as on Refugees, the first sin­gle as a solo artist.

The career tra­jec­to­ry of Field Music has been a bit of a see­saw, but here they are on the sec­ond gig of their tour. The set opens with the sin­gle The Noisy Days are Over (cur­rent­ly much-heard on Radio 6 music and not­ed fan Marc Riley is in the audi­ence). This num­ber is one of their most imme­di­ate­ly acces­si­ble – oth­ers require a fur­ther lis­ten or two, to appre­ci­ate unex­pect­ed and jumpy phras­ing. There’s a touch of Lev­el 42 and late 80s about their sound. Peter and David Brewis are charm­ing and indulge in much good-humoured ban­ter. They play If Only the Moon Were Up from their 2010 album Field Music, and for final track they return to their album of 2012, Plumb, with the sin­gle I Keep Think­ing about a New Thing, which exudes a cer­tain Talk­ing Heads style nerviness.

Gwenno and LoneLady on Saturday

Sat­ur­day night puts two female artists cen­tre stage. First to fea­ture is Gwen­no, and sec­ond is LoneLa­dy, aka Julie Camp­bell. My friends are amused to note that Gwen­no is the lone lady on stage, and LoneLa­dy is accom­pa­nied by her three-piece band.

And while we’re on the sub­ject of appear­ing on her own, Gwen­no announces that she is feel­ing some­what ner­vous, this being her first solo gig since hav­ing a baby. If she is hav­ing an attack of nerves they don’t ham­per her per­for­mance tonight. Her mate­r­i­al is envelop­ing and hyp­not­ic, and if I was to pin it down I’d call it mys­ti­cal psy­che­del­ic elec­tron­i­ca with a rev­o­lu­tion­ary mes­sage – sung in Welsh and English.


LoneLa­dy (Julie Camp­bell) has been a fair­ly promi­nent pres­ence on the tour­ing cir­cuit since releas­ing her sec­ond album Hin­ter­land. In con­trast to the oth­er artists over the two evenings, LoneLa­dy does­n’t acknowl­edge the audi­ence and engage with us which, giv­en the inti­ma­cy of the evening, seems some­what dis­ap­point­ing. It would also be of inter­est to find out the back­ground to some of the mate­r­i­al. She fin­ish­es with the mes­meris­ing title track Hin­ter­land, with its more folky sound­ing song than the jagged Gang of Four-influ­enced post punk of her usu­al sig­na­ture style.


The fes­ti­val of Caught By the Riv­er may have been post­poned due to the floods in the Calder Val­ley but these two gigs were left for us to enjoy and lift the spir­its. What tran­spired was a week­end of inspir­ing and slight­ly eccen­tric music with a strong sense of place and time.


WHO: Sea­mus Fog­a­r­ty, Meilyr Jones, Field Music; Gwen­no, LoneLady

WHEN: 23rd and 24th Jan­u­ary, 2016

WHERE: The Trades Heb­den Bridge

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