Sunday 15th November 2015
Sometimes it's worth taking a chance and trying something a bit outside of your normal comfort zone. We knew The Urban Folk Quartet were excellent musicians who were doing great things on the festival circuit, but were they too big, too loud and too exciting for the folk club? Well, they certainly brought a heap of instruments, PA and technical equipment with them - so much that we had to turn the room around and use the proper stage. They also brought in a full-house audience who experienced one of the liveliest and energetic nights we've ever had!
The band are: Joe Broughton (fiddle and guitars), Paloma Trigás (fiddle & vocal), Tom Chapman (percussion and vocal) and Dan Walsh (banjo, guitar and vocal). Dan had given us a great concert in early 2014 as a solo performer of course. Their music includes some traditional tunes but mostly songs and tunes of their own. They all contribute to the writing and all have a musical versatility that means it's sometimes hard to remember who played what! Using an Octave pedal to bring one of the guitars down to a bass line, the sound of the ensemble musicians is full, crisp and tight - and very exciting.
Very much a 'Live' band, they quickly had the room buzzing with some terrific fast and furious tune sets. They have a great stage presence and rapport with their audience, typified by a clever percussion set involving passing shakers around the band and into the front row of the audience.
But it wasn't all break-neck tunes, and some of the most beautiful pieces you could hear were interposed as contrast. A Dan Walsh tune in 11/8 time signature featured a lovely Middle-Eastern-sounding intro on the banjo; and the tune 'The Language Barrier', written by Tom but played by Joe and Paloma on two violins (with Dan playing a beautiful guitar accompaniment) was the most gorgeous thing I've heard for a long time.
The singing duties were shared around the band, although Dan carried most of the vocal responsibility. Paloma sang beautifully in Spanish on a song of her own, and Tom sang a powerful version of the traditional 'Snows They Melt the Soonest'. They all harmonised very nicely throughout.
But the concert ended as it had begun, with a hugely energetic set of tunes that had the audience shouting for more. And more they got - along with another example of how this band works so well with their audience. Coming back to play an encore and about a minute into another set of brilliant tunes, the music stopped so that Joe could tell us about a dream he'd had - where the whole audience stood up and joined in! Did we want to help to make the dream come true? And so, at the signal, over a hundred people stood up, danced and clapped to the end of the grand finale ...
Finally, a huge thank you to Nick Murphy and Cath Mackie who played tunes to start each half of the concert, and to Phil and Claire for keeping us entertained as the room filled. And thank you to Phil & Julie, Claire, Dave, Jenny Bell, Marc Block, Ian Price, Bill Wilkes, Cath Mackie, Pat Shore, Nick Murphy, Juliet Woodin, and Pete Rimmer from the Bothy Folk Club; who all stayed behind after the concert to sing and play in the post-concert sing-around.