Eliza Carthy

St George's Bristol

Yet another day. Yet another gig. Yet another church. This time we are in the venerable St George's off Park Street ("round the corner from Nandos" as the Taxi Driver explained). A higher class of Bristol venue: they also have classical music and something called Jazz. 

I set up this secondary arts blog with a view to writing at least a short review of every live show I see, with permission to say "that was a nice gig, I like it" if that was all that occurred to me to say. I must admit that halfway through the first half of Eliza Carthy's set, my heart started filling with a kind of literary stage flight. I am not going to have anything to say about this one.

Eliza Carthy is the most royal of folk royalty, daughter of Martin Carthy and Norma Watterson able to talk about Uncle Mike and my Auntie Lal but a Member of the Order of the British Empire very much on her own merit. She's one of the great folk-fiddlers and has exudes self-mocking ebullience on the stage. Tonight she was wearing an over-the-top garland in her air, and kept sardonically apologising for the subject matter of her songs. ("This one is about puberty. Because...party!" The phrase "folkie Jo Brand just came into my head.) Saul Rose and his squeezebox did a few solo numbers before the main band came on, and mentioned that 'Liza would be playing a song-writer set rather than a trad-set (and this meant he'd be playing jazz for the rest of the evening.) Everyone on the stage was clearly have a great time. But it kept not doing anything for me. Even a cover of Leon Rosselson's Man With the Big Cigar  ("I think this was on the record my Dad produced") entirely failed to connect. Am I acquiring an Eliza Carthy blind spot in the way that I have a Seth Lakeman blind spot? Or was I just over-folked (this was my third concert of the week?)

I mentioned this to one of my folk-friends at the following night's gig. I suggested that the problem was that I wasn't all that familiar with Eliza's self-written canon. 

"Well, it would have helped if you could hear the words" they replied.

So: not just me. The fabled St George acoustic must have glitched. The interesting words (Lal Waterson considered as a black chess queen, anyone) got lost in the mix. The band was great, of course, but instrumental music never quite does it for me. So I really don't have anything to say about this one. Sorry.

1 comment:

Gavin Burrows said...

I've always loved Eliza Carthy when I've seen her with anybody else, which I have often, but perhaps interestingly the one time I saw her with there own band I had a bit of a similar reaction. (Albeit a decade ago, link below for documentary evidence.) This probably just means we're both wrong.