Review: Martin Carthy at the Lichfield Guildhall

Lichfield folk fans were shown a masterclass of traditional music-making when the legendary Martin Carthy appeared at the Guildhall.

Martin Carthy

Martin Carthy

In a career that has lasted more than 50 years, Carthy’s much storied career has seen him go from being a ground-breaking young lion of the folk scene, to a much revered elder-statesman.

In the 1960s his guitar style and singing influenced the young Bob Dylan and Paul Simon, while his later career saw him performing alongside his daughter Eliza Carthy and playing in many bands and folk ensembles, looking to broaden both the appeal and the sonic possibilities of an art-form that is already centuries in the making.

Now 75 and with a pleasingly weathered voice but no loss of dexterity in his playing, the strong audience who had given up their Good Friday evenings were treated to a number of songs from the folk canon, as well as some familiar instrumentals.

As well as traditional fare, his own hard-hitting songs – such as Company Policy – had a potent sting, addressing the lives of working men, while songs such as Long John and Farewell Lovely Nancy were rousing meditations about life lived.

The dextrous, musical soundscape of The Heroes of San Valerie was a perfectly performed instrumental, while the acapella treatment that open My Son John showed Carthy’s care-worn voice to good effect.

The concert closer The Devil and the Feathery Wife was a witty re-telling of a folk legend, before the encore of The Harry Lime Theme from the Third Man was both a fitting and familiar way to end this concert by one of the foremost names in the British folk-music firmament.

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Founder of LichfieldLive and editor of the site.

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