It was a windy night and the sun had begun to sink into the horizon, when a crowd of folk-loving youths sat their bottoms onto the deck of the Tamesis Dock, a boat moored along the south side of the Thames.
Tristram and his band began – their lulling melodies hushing the crowd, as though we were sat down for story-time. Tristram’s melancholic voice tells an unusual tale – from ‘Me and James Dean’ to ‘Ballad of the Stolen Bicycle’ to ‘Zombie Holocaust’. Reminiscent of Laura Marling, Tristram stretches his notes whilst changing pitch, carrying you along the song with him.
The Mariner’s Children explained to the audience it was only their second headline gig, at which one wanted to both clap and cuddle them. The crowd was full of support and enthusiasm towards such plaintive songs as ‘Back I Beat the Waves’ and ‘Waltz for a Sleeping Lover’. Various strings accompanied folklor-ish images depicted in Coal and stomping drums built into a powerful ending: the instruments stopping and the musicians’ voices singing out into the body of the boat.
That night, both bands demonstrated that there is something fundamental and human to folk music: its acoustic instruments, male and female harmonies, stamping feet and clapping hands. These elements have the ability to bring us all together – and have done for countless generations.
Words: Juliet Cochrane