The Trials Of Cato – The Met, Bury
Date: 26th September 2019
From North Wales and Yorkshire, via Beirut and onto Bury. “The biggest British folk band to come out of the Levant. Ever.” So says their Twitter profile.
The double nominees for the 2019 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards have been on the radar since their Hide And Hair album (nominated in the Best Album category) appeared and to be fair, Tomos, Robyn and William have certainly paid their dues. They’ve busked on the streets (some of tonight’s audience had first seen them play in that guise) and lived out of a transit van. Not quite the romantic vision of the travelling troubadour, yet an experience that’s helped them hone their craft and deservedly earned some time in the folk tinted spotlight.
And as they’ve been dubbed “the Sex Pistols of folk” by a certain J.Davis, we had to check them out. It’s enough to catch the interest and fortunately, the comparison is slightly lost on me as there’s no untidy language, gobbing on the audience or pogoing from anyone concerned but it’s enough to catch the interest and fill the bulk of the seats in The Met’s Box space while Lemn Sissay packs in a few in the main theatre.
As the boys may market themselves as a folk band, there are the inevitable boxes to tick which they do with a certain zest and vigour. The typically melancholic tale of death in wartime and forlorn widows comes with My Love’s In Germany and there’s even a protest song. Not quite in the fashion of the early days of Dylan or with the sort of venom that Grace Petrie summons up, but “an all-purpose protest song”, These Are The Things, fit for any occasion. It seems inevitable that in the current political climate, our glorious leader, BJ, should be the current target – perhaps he should be the one to whom we should be singing “send him hame.”
The Welsh language Can John Williams gets a slightly unfair comparison to Old MacDonald had a farm which probably comes from the fal-di-dal-di-do parts and the opportunity to tag some smatterings of English tunes and irish reels onto the end of some of the pieces always keeps the tempo lively. However, the epic comes in the form of Gawain, their version of part of the Arthurian legend although beaten into second place in the prog stakes by the incredibly progressive time signature of a Macedonian dance tune in 25/8.
Curiosity sated, The Trials Of Cato and the Hide And Hair album are now dutifully added to the ‘must do again’ pile as well as acting as a reminder that we need to pay more heed to the buskers when walking the streets of our major towns and cities. You never know what you might find. Good luck at the Bridgewater Hall on 15th October guys.
The Trials Of Cato online:
Photography by Mike Ainscoe. You can find more of Mike’s work on the At The Barrier Facebook page.