Live Reviews

Bandersnatch / Cobalt Tales: Over Hulton Folk Club: Live Review

Bandersnatch / Cobalt Tales – Over Hulton Folk Club – 14th December 2022

If you ever need a reliable weather forecast then just find out when OHFC is opening its doors and the weather will be horrible. Yet the OHFC family is made of hardy stuff and if there’s a   category at the folk night awards for endurance and loyalty to folk music beyond the call of duty then they are an obvious nomination. 

Another packed house saw those endeavours rewarded by a  marvellous performance from Cobalt Tales. This multi-talented duo pulled out all the stops to display a wide variety of styles.  Melody, harmony, acapella, country and a touch of rock filled a too-short set and in only 5 pieces of music set their stall out and the audience bought it!

Singing from the soulful voice of Pat, precise harmonies with Nuala theatrically delivered their self-penned songs with confidence and aplomb.  They began with nifty rolling bass accompaniment for Cool Cat and some swingy scat singing from Pat they set the bar high for the rest of the evening. This was followed by an acapella spooky tale from the tragic Pendle Witches story entitled Pendle Hill. Pat’s sweet soulful vocals told the story of a lost much loved friend with Say Something and in One Small Voice a powerful message was matched by the equally powerful stunning vocals. 

A  festive theme for the final song Secret Santa posed whether Santa had visited a care home but written during lockdown when restrictions to visiting family in care homes was heart breaking.

If like me you want to see more of Cobalt Tales then they return to our locality in the New Year. Check out their website for details of visits to Blackburn, Wigan and Fleetwood.  Their new perspective on folk was a sheer delight. Had they appeared earlier in the year they might have played to a room of 20-30 but tonight the packed audience including those who had been regulars through year got the vibrant and entertaining performance they deserved from Cobalt Tales.

Bandersnatch delivered exactly what you expect from the veteran ensemble which has lasted 20-odd years. Having staked their reputation on a high level of musicality, their own arrangements of songs written by well-established songwriters, The Band’s The Night I Drove Old Dixie Down, AJ Clarke’s Broken Years – his tale of growing upon the Troubles in Northern Ireland, Richard Thompson’s Keep Your Distance and Stephen Foster’s Hard Times were amongst the covers. Throw in Jerry Garcia, Robbie Burns and someone called Bob and you can’t go wrong with these crowd-pleasers. When Becky stepped up to the plate to take the lead vocals and offer some nimble violin playing for I’ll Be There, tribute was paid to the original artists The Steel Drivers! Their local links were expressed in Stewart Marson’s  Over The Lancashire Hills to add a traditional flavour to the evening, a song also covered by Dave Swarbrick and Simon Nicol of Fairport Convention fame. 

The audience clearly enjoyed singing along to their favourites. Covering artists is probably as dangerous as driving on the treacherous icy roads outside but the OHFC faithful believed that they pulled it off.

And so the 2022 folk season came to an end and what a fantastic year we’ve had.

Edwina Hayes, Reg Meuros, AJ Clarke and Jez Lowe just a few names amongst the top-quality headliners. With amazing performances from newer artists like Mail Train, Anna Rennea and Cobalt Tales it has been an amazingly successful year for OHFC. Corrie Shelley not only puts in many hours of organisation with her splendid team but entertains us on stage too. All the artists were appreciative of soundman Steve who worked tirelessly every evening.

Next year starts off with a bang as local heroes Merry Hell explode onto the stage in January, which should provide another full house. Roll on 2023! 

Cobalt Tales online: Website / Facebook / Youtube

Bandersnatch online: Facebook

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