Downend Folk Club July Review
Published on: 01 Jul 2016
KIRSTY Bromley and Lucy Wise started the UK leg of their ‘Two Hemispheres’ tour at Downend Folk Club, Australian Lucy’s most recent gig having been in Arizona, and Kirsty (hailing from the slightly closer land of Yorkshire) fresh from touring in New Zealand. Their performance was of a truly international standard and it is a credit to Downend Folk Club that it attracts artists of this calibre.
Lucy opened the double-headliner main act with a solo song to which she delicately played a ukulele made by her father (as are all her instruments). Her musical upbringing has clearly honed her natural talent for songwriting and her own songs are full of beautiful, subtle melodies and relatable, honest lyrics sung in a clear voice, with an effortlessly impressive range.
Kirsty joined Lucy for the last song of her set, and in turn Lucy sang with Kirsty for a handful of songs in Kirsty’s. Their voices complemented each other and it was clear why it is natural for them to be on tour together. Both women’s enthusiasm is infectious and their stage banter unaffected and endearing. Kirsty sang a range of traditional songs and the audience were keen to join in with ‘Eat Drink and Be Jolly’ from her native Rotherham. Her own songs, especially when sung unaccompanied – such as the moving ‘Absent Mother’ – were strong in melody and showcased her unaffectedly easy, natural voice and confident delivery.
Kirsty and Lucy were accompanied at times by the smiley Simon Dumpleton on accordion and piano, and there was plenty of variation and good humour throughout the night. Like the performers, the atmosphere was relaxed and warm, the mic stands adorned with flowers and fairy lights and the excellent lighting making Frenchay Village Hall feel like a cosy café-bar. Despite it being the sound engineer’s first time at the venue, Simon Clark’s sound balance was perfect; not over-amplified as so often happens at folk concerts, but subtle enough to sound like a pure acoustic gig. In the spaces between the notes, the song of a blackbird on Frenchay common drifted in through the windows, complementing the ambience of the night as a whole.
As usual at Downend Folk Club the opening act was also of an excellent standard, and the audience appreciated Steve Pledger more than the average support act. Steve’s confident, self-deprecating mannerisms were winning. While his voice and guitar playing are good, Steve’s real skill is in lyric writing, from the opening song about a war veteran father, to a complete change of tone with the toungue-in-cheek ‘This Land is Poundland’. The most moving part of the evening was his song ‘Matches in the Wind’, introduced as being “for idealists everywhere, and we’re one idealist down today”; the song – about the importance of doing what you can to make a difference, even though it may sometimes seem small or futile – was fittingly, poignantly dedicated to the memory of Jo Cox.
But it was, rightly, to Kirsty and Lucy that the evening belonged. Next month brings a visit from Sunjay and a bluesier feel…and if it’s even nearly as good as this gig then I, for one, can’t wait!
Kirsty Bromley and
Lucy Wise –
‘Two Hemispheres Tour’ with Simon Dumpleton (support from Steve Pledger)
Downend Folk Club, Friday June 17