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Following a well-remembered show last year, Mabon returned to Lichfield to open Lichfield Arts second Folk and Roots Festival. The group, led by accordionist and music writer Jamie Smith were down one member in the absence of fiddle player Ruth Angel, but the remaining quintet still gave rousing performances of many of their more popular tunes. Powered by the lively drumming, bodhran and hand percussion of Iolo Whelan, and technically assured bassist Matt Downer, the sound was filled out by Derek Smith’s intricate guitar playing, and the dextrous, melodic playing of flautist Calum Stewart. The group played music from their two albums OK Pewter and Ridiculous Thinkers, whilst also promoting their forthcoming live album and DVD. The Welsh connection of the band was there in many of the tunes, but many of the pieces also showed Russian, Middle Eastern and traditional celtic influences. The concert started with the fast paced The Hustler with the deep bass resonance of the accordian being to the front, while Schindig was a fun mixture of traditional reel patterns mixed in with a lively dance rhythm.  Slower pieces, such as Diver’s Alarums featured graceful flute and accordian tunes, and strong support from the rhythm section. Newer pieces, such as The Buck Rarebit and The Tale of Nikolai, The Dancing Bear were well received, while Masurkas was a slow waltz like piece, with sensitive performances from the band. The ensemble finished with the complex File Under Biddley with its series of changing time signatures, and registers, while an encore of Easy on the Reels kept up the high energy levels that the group had generated throughout the evening.

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