As a Cara convert after last years Queen Elizabeth Hall gig, there’s a sense of expectation which lingers before tonight’s show. With her appearance on the new Shakespeare Sonnets album (with Shall I Compare Thee To A Summers Day?) and having penned a song for Disney’s Tinkerbell and The Great Fairy Rescue, there’s every possibility that Cara has begun to digress from her more traditional routes, which creates an air of apprehension. Thankfully, tonight indicates that she clearly hasn’t lost her routes, in a set filled with her most well known songs.
Opening with traditional Johnny, Lovely Johnny from her Hill of Thieves album she makes a clear statement about the set from the start, with intricate arrangements overlapping her trademark vocals. Tonight she seems more relaxed and at ease on the stage (perhaps something to do with the time out from her kids) and despite tonsillitis her voice seems stronger than ever. This is only half of the story however, and the band (which includes partner Sam Lakeman, James Fagan, Emma Sweeney, Ed Boyd and ex Equation band mate Luke Daniels) offer accompaniments which range from being sympathetic in some songs to the highlight of others.
It’s Garden Valley which is ultimately one of the best songs of the night, Cara’s vocals combining with Sam’s piano accompaniment to create an understated and yet spine chilling rendition of Dougie MacLean’s number. Elsewhere The Lass Of Glenshee sees Cara and Emma fuelling off each other in harmony on low whistles before an accordion solo from Luke which results in foot stomps from the audience. With Jimmy Mo Mhíle Stór, The Verdant Braes Of Skreen, Black Is The Colour and The Parting Glass all making their way into the set, it’s a solid performance but at times it verges on a greatest hits show leaving a lust for something new.
Thankfully she delivers Come Fly With Me (taken from the Tinkerbell movie) and though on paper this sounds dubious, live it marks Cara’s ability to create folk with a modern edge. Somehow she fuses the elements required for a bit of Disney magic with traditional workings, creating a number which would not be out of place in either the film or on one of her albums. Cara and band never faltering and by the end of the night they reconfirm that there is still very much a place for the past in the present, giving many traditional numbers a much deserved lease of life.