Leeds Town Hall, Leeds, West Yorkshire
9th December 2011
Another from the archives. Not previously circulated.
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Review from Review Hub: Laura Stimpson
Tonight Kate Rusby was added to my list of Christmas favorites, alongside mince pies, the local pantomime and Christmas turkey. Rusby and her band performed over two hours of exceptional Christmas folk music taken from her �While Mortals Sleep� album, enough to excite even the biggest Christmas Scrooge.
A down to Earth Yorkshire lass with an amazing musical talent, Rusby takes to the stage to present Kate Rusby at Christmas. Not only does she treat us to her favourite Christmas tunes, she also gives us background information about the music and her influences. She is clearly passionate about her music and recalls the history of her musical influences throughout the night.
She explains that many of the songs we hear tonight come from the South Yorkshire Caroling tradition, something which after tonight, I am desperate to sample. It starts in pubs in South Yorkshire the weekend after Armistice Day and continues right through until the New Year. People come from miles around to fill the pubs and sing these songs that have formed part of South Yorkshire Tradition. Kate recalls being uninterested as a child, she was taken along by her parents and played in the corner while it all went on, but obviously some of it sunk in, and thank goodness it did.
Near the end of the second half we are introduced to the very talented band, including Kate�s husband Damien O�Kane on guitar, Duncan Lyle on Bass, Julian Sutton on accordian and Ed Boyd on bouzouki. Kate and the band are joined tonight by �the brass boys� as she calls them, a cornet, flugel, french horn, euphonium and tuba. The brass group add another dimension to the music and help support the Christmas feel, as only a brass group can.
�Joy to the World� is performed early in the first half and provides the audience with a good example of things to come, familiar Christmas music with a Rusby twist. Shepherds Arise follows soon after, a beautiful piece with a lovely string introduction, written in Dorset. Kate recalls learning the song when she was 15, in a church yard near Barnsley, when she was in a mystery play.
The brass section then leave the stage, allowing us to hear Kate and her band alone, performing �Home�, this is the first time that Rusby picks up her guitar, what a beautiful song and lovely playing from both Kate and the rest of the band.
Bringing the brass section back onto the stage, Rusby performs �The Wren�. She recalls the song being sung on Boxing Day. In Sheffield groups of young men used to gather in gangs early in the morning, they would go out and catch a wren, put it in a box and put ribbon around it. They would then take the wren to people�s houses show them the wren and ask for money.
The first half finishes on a high with the delightful �Cranbrook� or �While Shepherd�s Watched their Flocks� to the tune of �Ilkley Moor Bah T�at�. A nice addition to this was the �Jingle Bells� theme that was introduced by the band at various stages throughout the song.
The second half begins with �Kris Kringle�, followed by �The Holy and the Ivy�, of course set to a different tune. Before long, the band are left to do in Kate�s words, what they do when she isn�t making them play girly songs. The band are clearly extremely talented and their performance is a joy to watch. The pieces, written by Ed Boyd, the bands accordion player, are called; �Ricky Rhodes to Ruin� named after Richardson Road, the student part of Newcastle that Boyd has a few memories of. The second piece �Goodbye Mr Buns� refers to a sandwich shop in Newcastle. The pieces are catchy, upbeat and cleverly incorporate motifs from popular Christmas songs. The highlight for me was �Walking in the Air� on banjo followed by �Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.�
Kate returns to the stage again to perform another couple of songs before the final piece, �O Little Town of Bethlehem�, a favorite Christmas song of Kate�s, that she recalls never being allowed to sing at school as she didn�t have the right clothes or hair to be cast as a part in the school Nativity to sing any of the songs. She even named her latest album after some of the lyrics. The vocal of the hymn has not been changed, unlike the other traditional songs she sings. But it proves that Kate can sing traditional songs beautifully and make it her own with her unique vocal style.
After rousing applause, and to the audiences delight, Kate and the band return for two more songs. �Underneath the Stars� and ends her magical performance with �Sweet Bells� another version of �While Shepherds Watched� to the tune of �Sweet Chiming Christmas Bells�. A perfect ending to a perfect performance.
Brass Boys (Rich, Mike, Matt & Tim)
1. Intro (1.31)
2. Here We Come A-Wassailing (3.31)
3. Chat, Intros to Brass Boys & Carol (1.59)
4. Joy To The World (3.24)
5. Chat about South Yorkshire Carols (3.13)
6. First Tree In The Greenwood (6.01)
7. Baby Announcement & Carol Intro (3.15)
8. Shepherds Arise (4.53)
9. Brass Boys Leave Stage, Chat & Band Intros (3.08)
10. Home (4.40)
11. Carol Intro (1.15)
12. The Seven Good Joys Of Mary (3.47)
13. Welcome Back The Brass Boys & Carol Intro (2.11)
14. The Wren (3.36)
15. Chat & Carol Intro (3.14)
16. While Shepherds Watched -Cranbrook Version (4.01)
Set 2 [65.45]
1. Intro Chat (2.16)
2. Kris Kringle (4.27)
3. Chat & Carol Intro (2.13)
4. The Holly & The Ivy (3.39)
5. Chat (2.23)
6. Hark Hark, What News (3.47)
7. Handover To The Boys & Tune Intros (2.28)
8. Ricky Rhodes to Ruin-Mr. Buns-Tunes Medley (5.30)
9. Chat & Carol Intro (1.17)
10. The Holmfirth Anthem aka Pratty Flowers (4.33)
11. Chat & Carol Intro (1.27)
12. Diadem (4.24)
13. Chat & Challenge (1.16)
14. Walk The Road (4.37)
15. Chat & Thanks To Everyone (2.23)
16. Little Town Of Bethlehem (6.32)
17. Chat & Song Intro (1.31)
18. Underneath The Stars (3.54)
19. Chat , Carol & Kate Intro (2.22)
20. Sweet Bells (4.42)
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