Jon Boden

Windmill Hill Farm. Bristol

Bristol does not so much have hidden corners as Narnia-like pocket dimensions.

I was aware of the existence of Windmill Hill City Farm, but had kind of imagined a field with some carrots and a few chickens. In fact it feels like a small campus, with signposts pointing to cafes, kids areas, a sports field and some actual cows.

I am here to hears a “campfire club” concert but Jon Boden, who regular readers will remember is one of the ten albums who most influenced my musical taste.

There is a fire pit, a small stage, a bar selling beer which claims to have been recycled from stale toast, and about a hundred folkies on camp chairs. 

The rain stays away, although something adds a buzz to the sound system in the second half. 

Boden advertises himself as singing songs from the future and the past. The past is his traditional repertoire, of course, largely familiar as Bellowhead and Spiers and Boden material. (The duo is doing some shows in the autumn, and Jon pointedly does not rule out a Bellowhead reunion.) So we get Role the Woodpile Down and Rigs of the Time and his version of Roll the Old Chariot Along. Rigs of the Town is a protest song, he says, but Jordan is a not protesting about anything in particular, just exhibiting a general sense of dissatisfaction. The stand out is the evangelical shipwreck ballad Rose in June, with the audience supply the “send us the glory part”. It takes a lot of confidence to carry off a fifteen verse ballad with no band or drums to embellish it. It takes some skill to carry off “sinners give your soul to Jesus” after admitting you are non-religious yourself. Jon pulls both off perfectly. He winds up the evening with the Bellowhead Standard New York Dolls, substituting “fair pretty maid” for “whore” in deference to a family friendly matinee. 

 I am less enamoured of his “songs from the future” — a series of self written songs from the last volume of his Songs From the Flood Plane trilogy. We Do What We Can is certainly a good song, but a slight sense of sameness hovers over the others. But we are happy to be back in a field listening to whatever Jon Boden feels like singing

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