The Wayward Tour – Eliza Carthy & Jim Moray at Buxton Opera House 27th May
Wow, looks like Eliza’s back in town! Mr Carthy’s Wayward daughter is celebrating 21 years of being on the folk stage in style, touring along with Jim Moray and an 11 piece band of fine musicians. I caught up with this
grand event in the apt setting of Buxton Opera House, about half way into the tour.
Jim, who is also enjoying 10 years as a major performer, kicked off the show with a solo song at the keyboards, then quickly brought on the full Wayward Band. A well thought out duet with Lucy Farrell on Jenny of the Moor set the scene for the evening. Moray’s set also included Lord Douglas, a beautifully adapted Child ballad and a well-deserved winner of Best Traditional track in this years Folk Awards. After no more than an hour we were hearing the familiar rousing chorus of All You Pretty Girls signalling the end of Jim’s set. Post interval Eliza took to the stage, heading first to the piano which was probably surprising to most people in the room. The result was a gorgeous version of Diego’s Bold Shore, from Waterson Carthy’s DARK LIGHT album but rarely heard in this form. From there Eliza gave us a tour through her immense and varied back catalogue, starting with Cold Haily Rainy Night which was the first song that she’d recorded with band members Saul Rose on melodeon and bassist Barn Stradling some 16 years ago – and she still made it sound as fresh as ever, with lots of little yells and dances. I was great to hear Eliza in good voice again, hardly a trace of the throat problems she has suffered in recent years.
Having a big band to play with allowed both Jim and Eliza to fill out the arrangements they usually do on stage, creating something as big and in many cases better than the original studio versions. A good example was Worcester City, popular song from the Rat Catchers days, but this time with the distinctive percussion intro from the album. Also from the Rat Catchers era was Gallant Hussar, heavily featuring some great brass playing by Nick Malcolm on trumpet and Adrien ‘Yen Yen’ Toulouse on trombone.
21 years in the business has given Eliza depth and variety, and this showed up on the Grey Gallito, which is actually a version of The Lovers Ghost originally picked up from her father. However, she recorded this with the great dance band Salsa Celtica, with the addition of a Spanish chorus – result, simply gorgeous. More treats to come with a lovely version of Mike Waterson’s Jack Frost, with Dave Delarre on guitar and Lucy Farrell with backing vocals. My only slight disappointment of the show was the limited material from Eliza’s RED RICE album, only 2 songs. These were never the less brilliant, particularly Billy Boy/the Widdows Wedding with Eliza and Sam Sweeney playing together. Last song before the encore was a fine version of Willow Tree. This song used to appear at the same point during the Ratcatchers set and it was great to hear it again in an even fuller arrangement.
To round off the evening everybody joined in the vocals on a rousing Glory Land, then a big band treatment of TheCobblers Hornpipe, the only full instrumental set of the evening, sending all home with smiles on our faces.
It was evident watching how much fun the band seemed to be having up there. Sam Sweeney confirmed this after the show. Sam said “It’s great to play Eliza’s old material, she was one of the big reasons I started playing folk music in the first place” Well, I think you speak for a lot of people there Sam.
The Wayward Tour play Southwell folk festival on Thursday 6 of June, Cheltenham 21st of August, Birmingham 22nd of August. Catch them if you can.