Sunday, 24 June 2012

Bridie Jackson at Helmsley

Featuring Bridie Jackson and The Arbour
Helmsley Arts Centre

Bridie Jackson and The Arbour
There always seems to be plenty going on at the Helmsley Arts Centre. Last week I took the opportunity - and my umbrella - to head across to see Bridie Jackson and The Arbour in concert for the fourth time.

Once through the storm, we were in for a musical treat. Helmsley Uncorked was to have featured three different acts, but unfortunately poet Rommi Smith was unable to attend due to illness. On the plus side, Bridie Jackson and The Arbour stepped in to fill the gap, doubling their intended performance time.

They played two half-hour sets with a break in between. They have been touring hard this year, partly to promote the wonderful CD Bitter Lullabies. Every time I see them live they seem to be an even tighter unit and the trademark harmonies a little more spellbinding.

Starting with We Talked Again - a perfectly judged opener, replete with exquisite harmony vocals and disturbing yet hopeful message - the scene was set for a typically dark slice of alt-folk. As the set list shows, we were treated to some rarely-heard older songs in between the material from Bitter Lullabies. With due respect to Rommi Smith (get well soon!) fans of Bridie and The Arbour definitely benefited from the bonus of a second session.

Songs of alienation, broken relationships and other dark subjects were briefly punctuated by the optimistic, upbeat Advice at the start of part 2.

Set List
Part 1
We Talked Again
Singing with feeling
Diminutive Man ('a song about all the idiots I've been out with')
Mucky (complete with audience participation encouragement.)

Bluesman Dave Smith played a very accomplished set, with songs ranging from classic Robert Johnson material up to the present day, with Dave's own compositions. 

Dave Smith
The Arts Centre had stocked the tables with a variety of impressive nibbles, which we made short work of during the seriously toe-tapping set.

Em Whitfield Brooks (Artistic Director for the Arts Centre) sang a well-received song of her own - unaccompanied - prior to announcing the start of the Bridie's second set.

Em Whitfield Brooks
Bridie appeared solo for the start of the part 2, which began with an unexpected announcement. The result of the England v Sweden football match! 'In case anyone is interested - England won! I'm not sure what they won...It was 3....something. I don't know. Football and music rarely mix.'

Not a football in sight
Set List
Part 2
Advice ('...and here endeth the happy songs. It's all a big sobfest from now on.')
Prolong (the first live outing of this early Bridie classic for '...about three years'.)

No more happy songs!
The Arbour returned to the stage at this point and following a round of introductions it was on with the show...
Bitter Lullaby
Promises Are Broken

Harmonies so strong one can almost hear them from the photo
New Skin (About the 'same guy' featured in Diminutive Man, but 'about three years earlier'.)
All You Love Is All You Are

The end of a wonderful evening
Powerful, dark and utterly unique, Bridie Jackson and The Arbour will doubtless continue to entice more followers into their own remarkable world.

Head for the official website for further details about Bridie Jackson and The Arbour, including tour dates.

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