Bellowhead - Celtic Connections 2013

Added on Sunday 10 Feb 2013

Photo: bellowhead. Review Bellowhead by Pauline Keightley

Bellowhead, the ten-piece English contemporary folk band, gave an exhilirating performance at Glasgow's ABC 02. Between them the band play a number of instruments and include a four-piece brass section. They were great fun, talented and entertaining and presented an ideal opportunity for photographs.

I met another photographer there, who was shooting for the English Folk Dance and Song ( EFDS), an organization which was set up to promote English folk music. He was very familiar with the band and explained that Bellowhead started with the duo of Jon Boden and John Spiers. Speirs plays melodeon and concertina and Boden plays fiddle and guitar and also stamps the rhythm on a stomp box. The pair brought in the other musicians to form a full band ? filling a gap in the market for a top quality English folk band. Their line up includes - Benji Kirkpatrick, Rachael McShane, Paul Sartin, Pete Flood, Brendan Kelly, Justin Thurgur, Andy Mellon and Giles Lewin.

At the gig they sang vocal harmonies on traditional folk songs and also played an assortment of jigs and reels of traditional country dance tunes plus sea shanties. Their sound draws on a diversity of musical styles and influences from the old English tunes, such as Greensleeves and Can You Dance the Polka, to a sound similar to the popular 70s band, Steeleye Span.

The band are highly entertaining and Jon Boden is a naturally theatrical front man. On stage the band are both polished and energetic. The packed crowd of all ages were clearly up for a good night and they were in no way disappointed. I highly recommend the band to anyone looking for a fun night out and it was good to see a band making folk accessible for a younger audience.

Bellowhead richly deserve the accolades that have been heaped upon them ? five-times winners of 'Best Live Group' BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2005, 2007, 2008 & 2010 and BBC Radio Folk Award 2012 for their album Broadside, which made number sixteen in the UK official album charts and number one in the UK independent album charts. Their previous album Hedonism went silver (selling over 60,000 copies) and is the highest selling independently released folk album ever. The band developed a new ale to go along with their album release!

I did wonder why they weren't playing at the more atmospheric Old Fruitmarket with its olde worlde charm. It would have fitted their sound perfectly. Maybe next time.

Review by Pauline Keightley

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