Live review: Martin Carthy @ The Croft, Bristol, November 3rd 2008

I don’t like cricket, I love it. I think most people would call me a purist: not for me the crash and bluster of Twenty20, I prefer the slower, careful rhythm of a full test match.

Apparently, I’m not a purist in everything though. If I have to listen to one more song about a bloody maiden and her dead son in a wood I shall scream long and loud.

Clearly, at The Croft, I was in a minority. The crowded back room greeted each song with a hushed awe and sent it packing with rapturous applause.

It’s not that I think Martin Carthy had an off night, far from it. You don’t get crowned the king of English folk without being a talented singer and light-fingered guitarist. You don’t get to keep that crown for decades without producing music of importance and quality and performing it live consistently excellently.

It’s just that…well…it gets a bit much after an hour and a half of it. Lighten up for fucks sake, not all folk music has to be about bints crying over dead loves, surely? Even a song with a five minute introduction about the essays of George Orwell ended up being about some Welsher beating up her abusive husband.

Still and all, it was an absolute education to watch such a master performer at work and was hugely enjoyable for the first half hour or so. It was the rest of it that seemed to last 5 days.

Words: Paul Malloy