Thursday, December 01, 2011

Heave away, haul away

We seem to be booked into a sudden flurry of concerts and events lately. Last night it was the turn of Fishermen's Friends at Birmingham Town Hall. They're a group of Cornish fishermen and artisans who have become famous for singing sea shanties and other old folk songs, often in the open air in their home village of Port Isaac.

The sea shanties were particularly appropriate last night as we could have done with a boat to row ourselves into the city centre and back - it was absolutely sloshing down!

I'm not sure shanties are my favourite type of music - they all sound the same after a while - but the evening was great fun. The men do wonderful harmonies and because there are ten of them they can give it some 'oomph', and they sang a good selection of songs including a methodist hymn, a calypso number and what sounded like a negro spiritual, which helped keep the sound more varied. And in between the numbers, the group's blogger/raconteur did a great line in 'patter' with jokes and snippets of information about Cornish history and the background to the songs. He turned the evening from a recital to an event, and was a lot funnier than two of the comedians we saw the other night.

The support band Flats & Sharps were a revelation, too. When they came on stage they looked incredibly young and we thought 'oh, no, yet another group of festival-band-wannabes'. Then we saw their instruments - double bass, banjo, mandolin... and thought 'no'. Turns out they're a teenage bluegrass band from Cornwall (now there's a combination) and they were incredibly good. I think I preferred them to the main act, actually...

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