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 a 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.
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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.
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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 till happier times in the recently-flooded Calder Valley but it’s fortunate for us that these two gigs were left for us to enjoy and lift the spirits a weekend of inspiring and slightly eccentricity music with a strong sense of place and time.
THE SMALL PRINT
WHO: Seamus Fogarty, Meilyr Jones, Field Music; Gwenno, LoneLady
WHEN: 23rd and 24th January, 2016
WHERE: The Trades Hebden Bridge