REVIEW The Full English – The Lantern at Colston Hall, 5/5, by Keith Clark
IN a groundbreaking project made possible by Heritage Lottery funding, London-based The English Folk Dance And Song Society has made freely available online the contents of some of the most important collections of English folk songs and tunes.
To launch this massive project, some of English folk music's top artists have recorded an album of newly-arranged songs from the digital archive and are now on tour performing these tracks.
That gave us the chance of seeing acclaimed singer Fay Hield, fiddlers Seth Lakeman, Nancy Kerr and Sam Sweeney, virtuoso guitarist Martin Simpson, concertina maestro Rob Harbron and double bassist Ben Nicholls on stage together.
It started in spectacular fashion with Fay leading this supergroup made up of musicians from very diverse fields of folk music in a version of Awake Awake. The sound of seven unaccompanied voices singing in perfect harmony was incredible.
The quality did not dip all night, with each member of The Full English taking turns to lead the singing or the playing, accompanied by fellow members of the ensemble. The show showed some of the rich diversity of the folk tradition, for the subject matter included horse racing (Creeping Jane), a sea battle (Stand By Your Guns), a grotesque wedding (Arthur O'Bradley) and an epic voyage (Rounding The Horn).
As a celebration of all that is so good about our folk tradition it was fascinating and enlightening. As a concert it was a thoroughly entertaining night.