Fleetwood Cave "People Like Us"
Holy Trinity Church
Stratford Upon Avon
The most sought after seats in old town, many tickets gifted to album pledgers during a crowdfunding campaign brings audience riverside at Stratford Upon Avon. Famed as both place of rest and baptism of playwright William Shakespeare Holy Trinity Church lends glorious setting for official launch of debut album and accompanying promotional tour "People Like Us" by Fleetwood Cave. A quick glance around the nave rewards with seeing the almost capacity audience gathered in reputedly England's most visited parish church, is family affair of tots and elder siblings, parents and most likely grand-parents all intent on casting aside popular misconception for a folk audience. Luckily I also spot a couple who were neighbours perhaps more than twenty years ago.
The celebrated musical partnership of Marion Fleetwood and Gregg Cave, each having exhaustive solo and group part music careers forged duo when working together in folk-rock supergroup TradArr, tonight in full flight affirming their status as artists in residence at King Edward VI school (locally affectionately known as KES) with Marion gracefully introducting a group of students from KES.
Atmosphere completed by sympathetic lighting almost reaching into the far depths of the ceiling together with wonderful acoustic perfect accompaniment as the sound gently fills auditorium with Twice Missing. A group of upper sixth students led by Oliver Harvey-Ball (guitar/singer), Hamish Ballantyne (bass) and Oliver Evans (drums) that although having known each other since year 7 only came together a fortnight earlier after Marion had made the invitation to perform alongside her and Gregg. Occassion cause for creative use in band name forming especially out of indie/rock quintet The Mannequins with two of this number absent in the resulting trio.
Charging through a passionate 5 song set, it is especially pleasing to hear young musicians offering promise that folk is still a living tradition in fervoured performance which includes Stephen Fretwell 'Run', Jon Boden's 'All Hang Down' inspired by his 20th January show at The Swan Theatre,'Come All Ye' by Fairport Convention (who also feature later), while pounding drum and bass slap racing (ahead of whoever) to bring all too short a set to close with 'I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight'(Richard and Linda Thompson). Exceptional choice of songs complemented by original'Graveyard', placed between Jon Boden and Fairport Convention, that although written as a rock song contains several folky tones and influence. Energetic band difficult to weary of.
Marion being on local ground continues to curate evening, though later we hear revelation from Gregg about his own pasture across the county line, as Fleetwood Cave stand before us to give airing of "People Like Us". Assured songs will not be in CD order (likewise neither is my recollection), duo launch into title and lead song with country life seemingly it's theme. Silence falls upon the room as city bustle is left behind allowing everyone toe immerse themselves into mood of songs clearly rooted with a christian ethos. Fun, a keyword, and frolics ensue as pace constantly changes, songs shifting from the choking farewell of 'Dancing Girls' to the rousing second set appearence of '18th Day Of May', each cause to raise glass. Adding some depth to 'Lay Me Down Gently' is the double bass of Tali Trow, Marion's soaring vocal surprisingly unanswered by peal of the light ten. Tali also engineered the album recording, which lifts 'Wizard of The Worldly Game' from the catalog of Fairport Convention (the 1971 album "Angel Delight") and tagging to it's end jig 'Lazurus' penned by Marion, her flashing bow apt foil in honouring the late Dave Swarbrick.
Interval opportunity to firstly catch up with Richard and Trina. Thanks to social media I knew they were coming along tonight, having renewed contact when Richard's career bought him back to Rugby. Refreshment and then exploration of our beautiful surroundings, the nave a walk I guess a little over 100 feet having crowning glory in a large three manual pipe organ seemingly touching the heavens. It is about now the penny finally drops about the clever play in title and words of 'People Like Us'. The beauty open to different interpretation, I would be keen to hear your reasoning.
Bade a return to seats by Marion, Gregg raises a chuckle or two with disclosure that according to a 3 year old's ramblings 'Jesus' dwells in a Northamptonshire town. The immediate locality revisted at Clifford Chambers in Marion's tale of custom in remembrance of 'Gypsy Queen' Susanna Lovell. Again performing as a trio, Tali having guested throughout the evening we unfortunately rush toward an end with the rockier 'Passage Of Time'. I had been listening to the album "Around the Sun" while travelling to the show and feel certain the strains of REM can be heard in this song.
Usually finding the temperature inside a church a little cold, the warmth of performance counters with two and sometimes 3 part harmonies quickening pulse. Further comfort is the finest I've heard Marion sing combined with high standard of musicianship on guitar, violin, double bass and harmonica with Gregg occasionally utilising looping technology to flesh sound with additional guitar parts. Sadly evening draws to close with second cover by Fleetwood Cave an acoustic 'Hurry On Sundown' (Hawkwind) finding new home. Those familar in occupation of Lemmy's father will appreciate the song's inclusion.
Obligatary thank you's, the warmest reserved to thank everyone who came along before mention of something sure to be fun in The Knitted Character Folk Festival. Being held at The Blue Boar Inn, Temple Grafton on June 10th, an extensive bill includes The Gerry Colvin Band, Ange Hardy (Barefoot Folk) and naturally Fleetwood Cave.
Moving on the "People Like Us" Spring Tour continues in earnest, tomorrow night homecoming of kind for Gregg at The Lab in Northampton. Then embarking on hectic schedule in February both locally and further afield. Several dates in my prime stomping ground of Warwickshire, 'Please Be Patient' I may be a little self indulgent and push hard to make return visit to Kenilworth's Tree House Bookshop. I'd love to meet you on the sofa.https://treehousebookshop.co.ukhttp://www.knittedcharacterfolkfestival.co.ukhttp://fleetwoodcave.com