Friday, 23 August 2013

Jim Moray and Eliza Carthy - The Wayward tour - Mac, Birmingham 22/08/20013

For those of you who do not know,  Eliza Carthy has been touring and recording music for 21 years, and Jim Moray has been touring and recording music for 10 years, and in order to celebrate this they have created a band of amazing musicians whom they have worked with during their careers. After having mainly toured during May and June, they have a couple more tour dates this summer mostly at festivals.

Jim Moray began by singing "Poverty Knock" which he accompanied with his own piano playing. This was a very appropriate start to the gig as the song appeared on one of his first albums and is an affecting song about the hardship in cotton mills. This was a lovely, relaxed way to start the concert, and he continued by inviting Lucy Farrell on to stage to sing "Lord Douglas" with him, accompanied only by acoustic guitar.

When he invited the whole band on stage, the atmosphere changed drastically. They performed a dynamically loud version of "William Taylor" with brilliant drum playing by Dave Burbidge (who was standing in for Willy Moleson) adding volume and a dark atmosphere to the song. I also very much enjoyed the duet of the broken token ballad "Jenny of the Moor" that Jim Moray sung with Lucy Farrell, although it was clear that they were slightly out of practice as they both looked unsure of which parts they were meant to be singing. Another highlight of Jim Moray's set has to be "Leaving Australia". I really liked the introductory xylophone (?) playing by Laurence Hunt and the unusually quiet Sam Sweeney.

However, I have to say my favourite song from Jim's set has to be "Seven Long Years". The instrumentation is just beautiful and I really loved the addition of Sam Sweeney, Beth Porter and Lucy Farrell singing. It is a song that works brilliantly well with such a big band.

After the interval, Eliza began in a similar sort of way to Jim. She sung a beautiful song accompanying herself on piano. I can not remember the name of the song, but it was accompanied about by the string section of the band, and I remember thinking that it was incredibly powerful.

When she had the complete band with her, the material was far more upbeat and Eliza was clearly enjoying herself enormously - dancing across the stage and interacting with the other musicians. I very much enjoyed seeing the interactions between her and the other musicians. They did a wonderful version of "Cold, Wet and Rainy night" where they invited the audience to sing along (however, very few did join in). They also sang "Turpin Hero", about a "chicken murderer".

A particular highlight for me has to be "Mr Walker" which is the sort of song you can not help yourself from singing along to! The story is about a man wanting to marry a women who is really ugly, just for her money. Anyway, it is a very funny song and brilliantly introduced by Eliza and Saul.

The tone of the gig changed when Eliza began talking about her uncle Mike. She spoke with emotion about how Mike was a decorator and he used to come round for lunch and tell them little silly things he had thought of during the day. She then passionately sang Mike's song "Jack Frost" which was just beautiful! It was completely incongruous for the warm evening but its icy words and icy melody put a sudden chill in the air. I think this was my favourite of the songs performed.

This icy atmosphere did not last long as they continued with songs such as "Rolling Sea" which, as Eliza, pointed out has a strong Pirate theme. I particularly love the the brass section of the band during this song!

Sadly the band had to cut the set short as there was a curfew. This meant they were not able to complete the already shortened set list. They finished with " Willow Tree" but did not have time for an encore. Maybe without Saul's Purple joke, they may have been able to fit another song in but...

Although, the Wayward band is certainly not going to last much longer (there are only a few more chances left to see it), I would also recommend seeing any of the musicians that were involved at any other form of gig, whether with a band or solo. And I hope that maybe in 10 or 11 years time perhaps the Wayward band may get back together to celebrate some more anniversaries.

A couple of good youtube videos of the Wayward tour:

Mr Walker -

Worcester City -

Willow Tree ( they have cool hats in this one ) -

Jim Moray and the Skulk Ensemble  - Seven Long Years ( I couldn't find a version recorded on the Wayward Tour - but this is brilliant regardless) -

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