Sunday 21st January 2018
Excellent to see a great turnout for this concert, and a large number of first-timers at the Poppy Folk Club. Belinda O’Hooley and Heidi Tidow have a large and supportive following and are very popular around the festivals, thanks to their excellent harmonies, gorgeous musicianship and heart-warming song-writing covering all manner of human life and emotions. Their songs, and their singing of them, are strong and passionate, but Belinda and Heidi retain a lovely wit and warmth when introducing songs and interacting with the audience.
We were treated to songs ranging from the deep and sad (‘Whitethorn’ - written by Belinda), to the jolly and lively – with ‘All for my Grog’ and ‘Summat’s Brewing’ being excellent examples. Loudon Wainwright III’s ‘White Winos’ used humour to make us think a little deeper, and Richard Thompson’s ‘Down where the Drunkards Roll’ reinforced the point. Another theme – that of forgotten women who should have been better remembered – was delivered with three stories. ‘Beryl’ was about Yorkshire’s award-winning cycling hero Beryl Burton who fought against ill-health to become a great cycling record breaker; while ‘Gentleman Jack’ tells of Anne Lister, a wealthy 18th century Yorkshire woman whose coded diaries were later found to describe ‘a comprehensive and painfully honest account of (her) lesbian life’ – it’s an excellent singalong song too! Another hero, Daisy Daking, was celebrated in ‘The Pixie’ – Daisy is known for her teaching of morris dancing to WW1 troops in the trenches (to which Belinda commented, ‘You’d think they’d have been through enough!’).
Mostly, the songs were performed with beautifully delivered harmony singing, accompanied by Belinda’s really lovely touch on piano, but contrast was provided by a couple of interludes of songs accompanied by ‘Beryl’ (Belinda’s piano accordion); and by a few unaccompanied songs, when Heidi and Belinda came to the front of the stage to deliver in a very direct way to the audience (the ‘Wexford Lullabye’ was a lovely example of this). For a complete contrast, the second half of the concert started with ‘Shadows’, a beautiful piano solo to bring a tear to the eye. Equally eye-watering was the final song of the two-song encore, when Belinda and Heidi came to the front of the stage again to leave us with an emotional, unaccompanied, ‘Parting Glass’. Wow!
A wonderful concert: Great voices – lovely! Great harmonies, lovely piano. Lovely people.
A big thank you goes to Ally & Juliet and Julie Palmer for starting each half of the evening. And thanks to Poppy organisers Phil, Julie, Juliet, Ally, Claire, Dave; and to Ian Price, Helen and Chris Morris, and Wilma Birchenough; all of whom stayed to perform for the after-concert song and music session.