Thursday, September 27, 2012

Nancy Kerr and James Fagan

Chapel Arts, Bath

In a way, Nancy and James are as different as chalk and cheese.

James gets quite carried away singing Alistair Hulett’s powerful Australian protest song The Swaggies Have All Waltzed Matilda Away (”blood stained the soil of Australia!”); Nancy plays exquisite English tunes on the fiddle.

They meet somewhere in the middle for Nancy's self-penned "Cary My Bones to Jerilderie”. It’s based loosely on Ned Kelly’s famous Jerilderie letter; ("the road's my home; I know no other") and has one of those melodies that always seems to be leading you on to somewhere it doesn't quite arrive.

The song they wrote about leaving the narrow boat where they had lived on the Kennet and Avon Canal (they live the folkie lifestyle) has an astonishing lyrical and melodic complexity (”there must be better ways / for to keep the debts at bay/and the whisky trickling”). The one about the Greek gods coming to London for the Olympic games (written for the new Radio Ballads, which I'm ashamed to say passed me by) seemed contrived to me, but these things often grow on me on a second listening.

Maybe the highpoint of the evening was the extended arrangement of Dance to Your Daddy, with long fiddle interludes and ending with Nancy's winsome English voice and James more robust Ozzie in perfectly balanced melody and counter melody.

Anon wins the day every time, doesn't he?

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