Here’s my review of the Daughters of Albion at Birmingham Town Hall.
You can see more of my reviews, on the same site, ‘Birmingham Alive!’.
Update: Link expired; sorry. Here’s the original text:
I was really looking forward to this concert — and I was really disappointed by it.
It seemed shambolic and amateurish and the over-long changes between each song meant that it lost what little atmosphere it had had.
June Tabor, a singer for whom adequate superlatives simply do not exist, was sorely under-used — but not as much so as Martin Carthy, who spent most of the evening as the best-seated spectator in the venue. Presumably, he was only there because his wife Norma Waterson was in the line-up. Apart from the opening number, Tabor took part in none of the evening’s collaborations. Indeed, though she appeared on stage for the encore, she bizarrely refused to sing, standing mute and looking lost; something her fellow performers seemed to find amusing, unlike your reviewer, who frankly thought it insulting to the audience. Even so, her performances, with Huw Warren‘s piano accompaniment, were among the evening’s few highlights.
Also worthy of mention was the understated accompaniment from musical director Kate St John (late of the Dream Academy), especially her oboe playing, and her small band of backing musicians. For the most part, the contributions from Lou Rhodes and Lisa Knapp were insubstantial, lacklustre or — performing a much-anticipated cover of Kate Bush‘s This Woman’s Work — unbearably shrill. Kathryn Williams‘s rambling and apologetic introductions were, frankly, embarrassing. Bishi, a replacement for Sheila Chandra‘s role in the 2006 concerts under the same banner, was a poor substitute.
The impression given was that the whole under-rehearsed event was being treated as a bit of fun for the performers. Nothing wrong with that in itself, but surely not at the expense of the enjoyment of the audience.