Saturday, July 08, 2006

June Tabor

Vicky and I went to see June Tabor at the Northcott Theatre yesterday evening. She was accompanied by Huw Warren (piano) and Mark Emerson (fiddle), and it was as spellbinding as we expected it to be. That voice is like a precious jewel she carries around inside her, and there's really nothing else like it.

June Tabor
June Tabor - photo from

It was something of a 'concept gig'. The first half was a sequence of songs about all aspects of love (mostly English folk songs like "The Banks of Sweet Primroses", but also some 16th and 17th century material, an Appalachian song called "10,000 Miles" she learned from Nic Jones and the bossa nova standard "Insensatez", written by Antônio Carlos Jobim, but familiar to me from Robert Wyatt's Cuckooland album). The second half was all songs from, about, or somehow relating to the First World War - this was partly inspired by the fact that it's 90 years on from The Battle of the Somme, but I know June Tabor has been interested in WWI because of her harrowing versions of Eric Bogle's "No Man's Land" and "And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda". I was surprised that she didn't include those in her set (which included readings and a desperately sad version of "It's a Long Way to Tipperary", sung as a lament rather than the usual rousing march), but it didn't seem disappointing, all the material was very well-chosen.

I would have loved to have heard "Lord Maxwell's Last Goodnight"...

She encored by combining the love and war themes, singing "Beat the Retreat" by "The blessèd Richard Thompson," as she (accurately, I'd say) described him.

This was the first time I'd seen June Tabor live, and she came across as a very warm, funny and engaging person, and with that voice...


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