It’s 45 years since Liege & Lief almost single-handedly created the genre folk-rock. Since then, that simple marriage of traditional music and electric instruments had been suborned and sidetracked, dissected and documented, Oystered, Albioned and Steeleyed.
Punningly recalling the assault of the new which Fairport’s 1969 LP represented, they have reimagined folk rock, painting from a much larger palette, introducing the tints, tones and textures of a whole panoply of musical genres. As you’d expect, here are the precision percussion, searingly tasteful guitars, melodic basses and fiery fiddles that one associates with the genre. But in addition, one finds brass in truly British styles – the dazzling brightness of Purcell, the oomph of Elgar, the emotive richness of a Yorkshire brass band soloist - but also hints of jazz, trad and modern, and even the occasional mariachi riff), string sections, and countless astute references to a long legacy of pop and rock in its many forms.
However, this is by no means an “everything including the kitchen sink” approach. Elements are used sparingly, tellingly and, most important of all, appropriately. When less is more, the sound is stripped back – listen to their almost acapella take on My Lagan Love and no further explanation is needed. Many of the songs and tunes they perform are familiar classics. Many are simply gems from the tradition that band members have always wanted to perform – could there be a better reason for singing a song?
With members including PJ Wright, Guy Fletcher and Mark Stevens (all ex Little Johnny England) Marion Fleetwood (ex ColvinQuarmby and Jigantics), Gregg Cave and Gemma Shirley, they have understandably been called a ‘Folk-Rock supergroup’. Leave that for audiences to decide, but over 18 months they have acquired a reputation as a great festival band, clearly enjoying what they do and delivering it with energy and style.