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Fleetwood Cave

Holy Trinity Church, Stratford Upon Avon
Saturday 28 January 2017

Drawn to banks of the River Avon in old town Stratford Upon Avon clutching the hottest tickets in town, many tickets previously gifted to album pledgers during a crowdfunding campaign for official launch of debut album and accompanying promotional tour PEOPLE LIKE US by Fleetwood Cave. Holy Trinity Church, famed as place of rest and baptism of playwright William Shakespeare (his wife Anne Hathaway also lays within the scene), provides magnificent setting. Reputedly England's most visited parish church an assembly which is strictly family affair, childen, parents and most likely grand-parents casting aside popular misconception for a folk audience.  

The celebrated musical partnership of Marion Fleetwood and Gregg Cave, each having exhaustive solo and group part music careers forged duo when working together in folk-rock supergroup TRADarrr, tonight affirming their status as artists in residence at King Edward VI school (locally affectionately known as KES) with Marion gracefully introducting a group of students from KES.

Atmosphere completed by sympathetic lighting almost reaching into the far depths of the ceiling together with wonderful acoustic perfect accompaniment as the sound gently fills auditorium with Twice Missing. A group of upper sixth students led by Oliver Harvey-Ball (guitar/singer), Hamish Ballantyne (bass) and Oliver Evans (drums) that although having known each other since year 7 only came together a fortnight earlier after Marion had made the invitation to perform alongside her and Gregg. Occassion cause for creative use in band name forming especially out of indie/rock quintet The Mannequins with two of this number absent in the resulting trio.

Charging through a passionate 5 song set, it is especially pleasing to hear young musicians offering promise that folk is still a living tradition, their fervoured performance which includes Stephen Fretwell Run, Jon Boden's All Hang Down inspired by his 20th January show at The Swan Theatre, Come All Ye by Fairport Convention (who also feature later), while pounding drum and bass slap racing (whoever at their heels) to bring all too short a set to close with I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight (Richard and Linda Thompson). Exceptional choice of songs complemented by original Graveyard, placed between Jon Boden and Fairport Convention, that although written as a rock song contains several folky tones and influence. Energetic band who will exhaust listening no time soon.  

Marion being on local ground continues to curate evening, though later we hear revelation from Gregg about his own pasture across the county line, as Fleetwood Cave stand before us to give airing of debut album PEOPLE LIKE US, duo launch into title and lead song with country life seemingly it's theme. Daily life left behind, a kind of hush falls upon the room allowing everyone to savour the mood of songs clearly rooted with a christian ethos. Clever play in title and words of People Like Us, it's beauty open to different interpretation, I would be keen to hear your reasoning.

Fun, a keyword, and frolics ensue as pace constantly changes, songs shifting from the choking farewell of Dancing Girls to the rousing 18th Day Of May each give occasion to lift parting glass. Joined by Tali Trow, his double bass adds greater depth to Lay Me Down Gently in which, Marion's soaring vocal surprisingly unanswered by peal of the light ten. Tali also engineered the album recording, which lifts Wizard of The Worldly Game from the catalog of Fairport Convention (the 1971 album ANGEL DELIGHT) tagging to it's end jig Lazurus penned by Marion, her flashing bow apt foil honouring the late Dave Swarbrick. 

Gregg raises a chuckle or two with disclosure that according to a 3 year old's ramblings 'Jesus' dwells in a Northamptonshire town. The immediate locality revisted at Clifford Chambers in Marion's tale of custom in remembrance of Gypsy Queen Susanna Lovell.  Again performing as a trio, Tali having guested throughout the evening we unfortunately rush toward an end with the rockier Passage Of Time. Gladly not a nip in the air throughout the evening, I usually find inside a church a little cold. Perhaps warmth of performance counters with two and sometimes 3 part harmonies raisng the bar. Further comfort is the finest I've heard Marion sing combined with their high standard of musicianship on guitar, violin, double bass and harmonica with Gregg occasionally utilising looping technology to flesh sound with additional guitar parts. 

Obligatary thank you's, the warmest reserved for audience before sadly eventually night draws to close with second cover by Fleetwood Cave an acoustic Hurry On Sundown (Hawkwind) finding new home. Those familar in occupation of Lemmy's father will appreciate the song's inclusion. 

Moving on the PEOPLE LIKE US Spring Tour continues in earnest, tomorrow night homecoming of sort for Gregg when the duo appear at The Lab in Northampton. Then embarking on hectic schedule in February both locally and further afield. Several dates in my prime stomping ground of Warwickshire, 'Please Be Patient' I may be a little self indulgent and push hard to make return visit to Kenilworth's Tree House Bookshop. Meet you on the sofa?

Tony Wilding
Northern Sky