Review: The Orange Circus Band at the Lichfield Guildhall

Two bands of widely divergent styles performed at Lichfield Guildhall when the original folk duo Wilson Wright and the almost genre-free The Orange Circus Band took to the stage.

The Orange Circus Band

The Orange Circus Band

Opening the night’s entertainment were Hilary Wilson and John Wright, with a style that encapsulated blues, folk, the high pitched vocal style of Nick Drake and some haunting low whistle playing.

Their set was mostly originals, with their highly evolved, sympathetic guitar playing matching the blend of their vocals.

The songs looked at life as it is lived now, with the opening bluesy rush of All You’ve Got is a Hammer being the highlight of their set, which pushed mature musicianship and song-writing to the fore.

The Orange Circus Band offered something completely different, with a sound that mixed circus-style visuals with hoe-down, bluegrass, blues, jazz and nearly every other form that took the quartet’s fancy.

With a set list that blended effortless three and four piece vocal harmony, and some dextrous playing on instruments ranging from banjo, mandolin, violin and double bass, their two hour set was never less than entertaining.

In true circus style, the ensemble used big top names and consisted of Flash Hearth on vocals, guitar and harmonica, Shep! on mandolin, banjo and fiddle, Jessie Moonlight on vocals and banjo, and Sergeant Kahn on bass.

Their action packed and energetic set ranged from the raucous, banjo-powered CC My Baby to the traditional bluegrass song Shady Grove, which included some exhilarating violin playing. There was also the upbeat, poppy The Sunny Side of Life.

The second half included such songs as Trouble So Hard, which was a relatively recent hit for Moby, or the more down-cast Bury Me At Sea, as well as The Legend of Willie Rhoads, which was a song of both narrative bravery and advanced musicianship.

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