Following successful Lichfield Arts performances at the Fuse Festival and the Roots and Folk Festival, State of Undress returned to play their first headlining gig at the Guildhall.
The five-piece, Dorset-based band played a mixture of their own material, carefully chosen pop covers and traditional songs, as well as some readings in a show that offered a lot for the money.
Animated singer Charlie Rose, and guitar, mandolin and vocalist Alan Rose were supported by the strong rhythm section of Harry O’Shea on bass, and Keith Fletcher on drums and percussion, while most of the instrumental heavy lifting was provided by Jerry Bird who proved equally adept on fiddle, mandolin, concertina, and guitar.
Some of the music worked really well, with tunes such as Santa Claus is Coming to Town turned into an almost jazz piece, and the performance of Chris Rea’s Driving Home for Christmas was wrestled from under the usual production tricks that turned the song into the mawkish Radio 2 favourite that it is usually known as.
However, the performance of Fairytale of New York was turned into an almost punkish singing match and the faster pace robbed the performance of the song’s usual pathos.
The group’s treatment of such traditional folk songs as The Hangman’s Daughter and The Raggle Taggle Gypsy’s gave full rein to the band’s abilities, and Charlie Rose’s Stevie Nick-like vocals.
Their own songs, such as Christmas Round Ours was a festive ditty that allowed for some fine audience participation, while The Legend of Christmas Eve featured in the first half and also served as a fitting encore to this seasonal evening of entertainment from a talented band.