Spiers & Boden – The Maze, Nottingham, Monday September 15
For anyone impatient to hear more from all-star folk band Bellowhead, the past few days have been a rare treat. Following Thursday’s Playhouse appearance by Benji Kirkpatrick and Paul Sartin as part of Faustus, last night saw the Maze play host to Bellowhead’s key founder members: singer and violinist Jon Boden, backed by John Spiers on melodeon and concertina.
Where Faustus focus on finely balanced three-way counterpoints, Spiers and Boden take a more straight-up traditional approach, with Spiers providing a solid, unflashy backdrop to his partner’s resonant vocals and amazing fiddle playing.
Clocking in at over two and a half hours, the duo’s marathon set showcased many numbers from their fifth album Vagabond. As befits its title, these were songs of rebels, wastrels, pirates, beggars… and even a certain Mr. Hood, whose conception and birth in the “good green-wood” provided the subject matter for a fine epic ballad.
Amongst the many splendid jigs, the irresistible Sloe Gin – as recently popularised by Bellowhead and The Imagined Village – made a welcome appearance.
The evening finished with a surprise non-traditional choice from the Tom Waits songbook: a lilting, yearning Innocent When You Dream, which had the crowd softly singing along, almost to themselves.