Tonight is the final night of a pre-album release tour for Eliza Carthy and The Wayward Band. Now, as much as I hate to use the word 'supergroup' a quick check on the musical bios of the twelve (yes 12) piece band tells you there's some pretty hefty musical talent on stage. Squeezing such a large band on the Glee Club's stage was always going to be a tight fit and means that support duo Marry Waterson and David A Jaycock have to tiptoe between the various instruments and cables to arrive at their designated positions on stage .
Marry is part of the Waterson-Carthy folk clan (a cousin of Eliza) and is accompanied by David A Jaycock on acoustic guitar. Their set tonight is a mix of the traditional such as 'Some Old Salty' and songs they wrote over the internet ,having previously not met, for their album 'Two Wolves'. The title track calls for an audience “howl along” during the chorus. Marry has a strong, Northern folk voice which is beautifully and sensitively accompanied by David's' acoustic guitar playing, the use of a megaphone and a variety of guitar effect pedals adds flavour and separates them from other folk duos.
A quick head count of The Wayward Band reveals 4 string players, 2 brass (special mention must go to the trombone player who appears to be playing with a broken right hand), 2 percussionists, melodeon , accordion + keyboards, guitar and bass, five of the band also contribute vocals so it shouldn't be a surprise that it's loud but the wall of noise that hits when the full band start the opening track 'Devil in the Woman' still makes you jump.
There are many tracks from Eliza's back catalogue such as 'Great Grey Back', 'Gallant Hussar', 'Stingo' from 1998 'Red Rice' album and ' Good Morning, Mr Walker' from her days with The Kings of Calicutt, all of which are given a tremendous reinvention by infectious, joyful energy of the big band she has assembled here.
'You Know Me' has been written to highlight the positive points about immigration in response to the stance taken by the majority of the mainstream media and features a rap section by MC Dizraeli , who clearly didn't get the dress code memo on white tops as he's wearing a rather fetching blue Hawaiian number. The single 'Fade &Fall (Love Not)' is an epic James Bond theme thing with big, brassy blasts punching holes in it.
Encore 'Willow Tree' is given a New Orleans jazz style makeover and the final track 'Cobbler's Hornpipe' turns into a huge wall of sound with various band members leaping up and down on stage and audience members dancing wherever they can find a space on the floor.
There's something joyous about watching a large band having a blast playing live on stage, and it's the big full band instrumentals which gets the whole place bouncing, musicians on stage jumping and the audience dancing. The joy from the stage is being reflected back from the audience who are all having a great time.
The album 'Big Machine' is due for release at Celtic Connections in February 2017 (there are various options and packages available on Pledge Music now), and a tour post album release was hinted by Eliza at the end of tonight's show.
If you want a fun evening out with a tremendous band I would urge you to add one of these promised shows to your gigs to see in 2017 list.
Alisdair Whyte (from his hospital bed!)