Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Bridie Jackson and The Arbour: Aboard the Endeavour

Bridie Jackson and The Arbour
HMS Bark Endeavour, Stockton-on-Tees 
17 October 2014
As Bridie Jackson and The Arbour continue to become more popular and more appreciated - as evidenced by last year's triumphant Glastonbury appearance and their almost constant touring ever since - there are two things they definitely not forgotten: their propensity for innovation (remember the Banoffee Pie and Walled Garden events?) and an appreciation of their firm North Eastern roots. The pairing of these admirable characteristics brought to Stockton's riverside towards the end of last week.
HMS Bark Endeavour
It had been some time since I last boarded HMS Bark Endeavour. On that occasion, over a decade ago, it was for a much different event.
Previously, on the Endeavour...
In a way, it is typical of Bridie and The Arbour to play there; a mysterious show aboard a famous ship on a very dark Autumnal evening. Space is tight below decks. A small number of tables and chairs, dotted around the room, were unable to cater for the seating arrangements of the entire audience, some of whom bunched together on uncomfortable benches and the rest of whom chose either to sit on the lower deck or dimply stand. Support came in the form of folk trio Little Mirrors, who are soon to start work on their debut album.
Little Mirrors
Bridie and The Arbour were, of course, fabulous. There is still nothing at all to match their unique music (see how other reviewers scrabble around to liken them to unlikely candidates; sometimes a natural force denies the prison of the pigeonhole). 
The darkness of The Arbour's music is at odds with their genial personalities. Musicianship and vocals are never below the exemplary mark. The famous bell plates feature less in the repertoire than used to be the case, but the effect is still as strong and unusual when they do make an appearance. I felt genuinely honored when, towards the end of the set, Bridie dedicated the famous Scarecrow song to me.
The strong set list drew heavily from the New Skin album, with a couple of covers to add the element of surprise.

Set List

Please Forgive Me My Human Ways
Diminutive Man
Fearless (Pink Floyd cover)
Cry Me A River (Justin Timberlake cover) 
Sandgate Dandling Song (traditional) 
All You Love Is All You Are
We Talked Again
One Winter Evening

There was just one thing wrong with the evening - and it's a growing problem at concerts and other events. It seems that numerous people simply cannot differentiate between being at home watching TV and being at a live event. Here, as at so many places, a small minority conspired to spike the enjoyment of the majority with endless, inane chatter. Perhaps a variety of alcohol had loosened tongues (the bar remained active throughout the evening), or perhaps there were other reasons, other spectra. I'm starting to think venues need to take a proactive approach to the growing noise problem although it seems unlikely they will.

Here are a few more photos from the evening with which to conclude this review.

Head for the official Bridie Jackson and The Arbour website for further news and tour updates.

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