It is always a pleasure to come to the wonderful The Forge Arts and Music Venue, even when it is just over a month since reviewing Burton Bradstock's launch gig for his album All Upon A Lovely Summer's Day at the Pizza. The Forge is a great venue, and Bradstock is a fantastic act, so how could one possibly not go! Besides, I was dead keen to find out how this wonderful music had evolved over the past month, and what Burton Bradstock - Live At The Forge would be like as opposed to the stress and tension (though amazingly well dealt with) of the launch at the Pizza.
I dare say, anybody who had heard the album, and/or perhaps attended the launch gig, was in for a huge surprise. But more of that shortly.
Last night, the bass position was held by Riaan Vosloo, the original bassist from the recording, and guest violinist Julian Ferraretto also guested. Otherwise, the line-up was the same as at the Pizza.
The Forge, in cafe-formation, had good as filled up by the time Bradstock & Co. got started. A wonderful, appreciative and enthusiastic crowd they were, too. You really had to be there to soak up the wonderful atmosphere and the fantastic music. In attendance also was Ed Gray, the outstanding artist who had produced the original painting that became the art work for All Upon A Lovely Summer's Day, of which a large print was on display at the back of the stage.
Unlike at the launch gig, Bradstock was taking the songs in a completely different order from the album, and, sensibly, split up into two sets. After a slightly cold start where Bradstock did not quite sound on form and, indeed, slipped slightly off key a couple of times, he quickly recovered top form after the first couple of songs and from then on his performance could not have been better.
Indeed, Bradstock excelled and if anything, surpassed his launch performance. Jimmy Cannon's alter ego - for that is who Bradstock is - simply took one's breath away. There was also a lot of space this time for solos by the
band mates, which were taken with greatest panache all round, as well as with imagination and innovation. Dorian Ford on piano, Rob Updegraff on guitar, Julian Ferraretto on violin, Riaan Vosloo on bass, and Tim Giles on drums all excelled.
Overall, and this is where the huge surprise mentioned earlier comes in, this performance was hugely more jazz-oriented than that of the launch. For me, either was as valid as the other, just enormously different, and that is a wonderful achievement for Bradstock and the band, indeed, the music is evolving in leaps and bounds. What more could one ask for?
Also, Bradstock's interpretations often took a very different turn from the album or the launch, here emphasising the more amusing side and the innuendo much more, rather than just the more tragic aspects. The Foggy Foggy Dew for instance took on more of the more bawdy mantle it usually bears. Bradstock thus succeeded in exploring and indeed pointing out the huge versatility of his chosen material.
This material of - mainly, bar two songs - traditional English folk songs and the way he breathes entirely new, original life into them, has huge appeal across the generations, from the oldest to the youngest. There is something for everybody here, from folkie to jazzer and beyond.
Burton Bradstock - Live At The Forge was just exquisite, an evening that will be unforgettable, as the raucous audience ovation testified. One can only wonder where Bradstock will yet take this - he certainly has a repertoire of 'The English Song Book' of thousands upon thousands of traditional folk songs at his disposal, and thousands more from the Celtic canon. Long may Burton Bradstock go on with his own brand of folk jazz!
I can hardly wait for the next London performance!
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