Sunday 15th September 2013
The Poppy and Pint, Pierrepont Road,
Lady Bay, West Bridgford, Nottingham.
I first saw Nancy and James in Harby Village Hall as part of a double bill with Spiers and Boden way back in 2004, soon after both duos had won the first of their BBC Folk Awards. I've seen them many times since, and they have developed into one of the most popular and respected duos around. I last saw them playing to audiences of thousands at Shrewsbury Folk Festival this year, performing as a duo and as half of the wonderful Melrose Quartet, so I knew we were going to have a great night at the Poppy.
With another packed house the atmosphere was, in James Fagan's own words, 'buzzing' and the duo gave us two sets full of energy, gorgeous voices and top class fiddle, viola and bouzouki playing.
The sets included a rich variety of songs and tunes from all around the British Isles, Australia and Eastern Europe. We had an atmospheric set of Macedonian tunes; a very clever medley (Sally Sloane's/Ti Tree waltz); some excellent songs from Nancy's pen; a Dorset version of the Streams of Lovely Nancy; and a taste of Australia with John Warner's 'Anderson Coast'. My favourite moments were Nancy's fabulous singing and playing on 'Dance to your Daddy', and 'Queen of Waters' - their farewell song to the Kennet and Avon canal which has a terrific tune that I found myself singing within minutes of waking up the next morning!
I'm fast running out of superlatives to describe the recent concerts at the Poppy Folk Club. This concert had everything, and it will be a long time before my memory fades on such a classy, professional and thoroughly enjoyable performance by two lovely people at the top of their game: brilliant!
Many thanks to Andy Parr for setting the scene by opening the first half of the concert with a song from the floor that had the audience spell-bound; and to Jenny Bell who opened the second half with one of her lute-accompanied gems. A huge thank you, also, to all those who stayed behind for the post-concert singing and music session. Finally, thank you to everyone who came to enjoy the show and helped to make the atmosphere something special.