As a fellow Teessider there’s an instant connection with Megson’s opening number Working Town and it’s more upbeat tempo. Though an understanding of the economic collapse of the 80′s drives the song, it’s still poignant today, as a re-emergence of the recession looms over the length of the UK. Despite the somewhat solemn subject matter, the song has a driving rhythm which sets the pace of the night. Whilst references to the North East are numerous, with a new album of children’s folk songs recently released the night unfolds with variation, showcasing the duo’s vocal harmonies and ability to create folk music with modern references.
Though the new album is geared towards a younger crowd, it’s clear the pair are able to effortlessly create songs which span generations. Whilst Baby And The Band feels slightly rudimentary, the traditional Dance To Your Daddy is given a new edge, opening itself up to become a heartbreaking number, rather than a song you’d want to sing along to. Nevertheless it’s The Riddle Song which highlights their vocal capacity. The alternating parts see Debbie’s classical training brush up against Stu’s gruffer sound, to balance each other with ease. With a more stripped back musical delivery, it’s another morose offering which balances the more tongue in cheek All The Shops Have Fallen Down which, though similarly serious in it’s message, is uplifting in it’s delivery.
For me it’s The Longshot which captures their ability to write songs with depth and meaning. Though focused on the ‘Boro’s dubious football skills, it effortlessly captures the theme of hope. As the song progresses the meaning of the chorus builds, and they sing ‘once you’re certain, all hope is gone, a longshot is better than none’ it seems clear that I’m not the only one wrestling the sense of hope, with the sense of loss that the song instils. Meanwhile the a capella rendition of O Mary Will You Go add depth to the second half, once again showcasing their effortless harmonies.
With Every Night When The Sun Goes In seeing Stu form a drum beat on his guitar and Fell To The Breeze opening itself up as an almost pop number (which leaves me thinking that with the right push, it could become a radio hit) they make it clear that a full band is not needed to push diversity into their set. With the accordion being used to full effect in Little Joe to create a more roots based sound by the end of the night it’s clear that they are able to create captivating music, regardless of subject matter and though at though generally serious in their messages, their pair’s banter keeps it from drifting into depressing. Though individually both outstanding performers, it’s when they blend together that it becomes truly magical and tonight, they’re in perfect sync.
Photos © Jo Cox and must not be reproduced without prior consent