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In what has now become a tradition, Lichfield Arts closed its final season of the decade with a festive concert.

These shows always prove popular – and Jez Lowe’s Northumbrian Christmas did not let the side down with an enthusiastic and capacity audience enjoying music and stories.

With Jez on vocals and guitar, Andy May on keyboards and Northumbrian pipes, violinist and singer Kate Bramley, bassist David De La Haye and guest Benny Grey on vocals, this was a very special concert.

It featured original songs and some more obscure items, telling us about what Christmas and winter is like in the North East, with plenty of fine musicianship, humour and pathos on display.

Although the music fitted loosely into the folk genre, there were some brave excursions into new territory, with David De La Haye’s fretless bass adding something of a sprightly jazz style to some of the pieces, while the minor chord chanson of Don’t Spend Christmas in Australia added an air of brooding menace to a song that used humour to get the message across.

Concert opener Limping Home for Christmas was a solid song, with a sing along chorus, while Mary Had A Baby added some North East humour to the Christian story.

Ice Cold in Alnwick and On Market Day were also story songs about the realities of life at the tale end of the year.

Snowdancing, led by Kate Bramley, showed both her singing and violin playing off to great effect, and Cold Feet Again, Pet looked at the struggles of miners returning from their shifts as their families were leaving for work.

This was a fine concert and was a wholly original look at the festive season and how it means different things to different people.

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