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Review: Stick in the Wheel at the Old Ship Inn, Lowdham



Review: Stick in the Wheel at the Old Ship Inn, Lowdham

It is said that folk music is a tradition of the people and this is certainly the view held by emerging talent, Stick In The Wheel, writes Mark Salter

‘We play the music of our people. We sing in our own accents. We record in our kitchens and living rooms. This is our culture, our tradition,’ affirms their website, and this showing at The Old Ship Inn certainly reinforced this sentiment.

The five piece combo from London were uncompromising in their grip on heritage at this Warthog Promotions gig. Having recently featured both on Radio 2 and BBC 6 Music, Stick In The Wheel showed the Lowdham crowd just what the fuss is about.

The group’s stage persona shied away from excessive ingratiation with the audience. They were happy to let their music do the talking, although there were explanations of some the origins of both traditional and their own numbers.

Whether traditional folk songs or their own compositions, slow poignant tracks or upbeat numbers over a thumping drumbeat, the performances epitomised an ‘in your face’ attitude, performed in a broad London accent.

Slower numbers were sung beautifully over a melodic guitar backing whilst the more raucous drew on a thumping bass drum backbeat, violin, squeezebox, Cajon and wonderfully harmonised vocals.

Purists would have been happy with the folk legends referenced: Ewan McColl, Martin Carthy, Andy Irvine and Planxty, and also been well versed in much of the repertoire: London Town/Rigs, Four Loom Weaver, Georgie, Sweet Thames, and The Blacksmith.

Stick In The Wheel have a BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards nomination for Best Traditional Track for Seven Gypsies which along with Bedlam could have been written to suit their style. In addition the group’s take on, perhaps most covered folk song, Barbara Allen, was both refreshing and unique. Hard Times Of Old England, as apt now as ever, had every ounce of despair wrung out of it. Cries, a song developed around 16th century street cries from tradesman in the Bethnall Green area, was the very essence of ‘Old London’ and add in compositions on the London Riots, Epping Forest, and car boot sales, it was quite an evening.

All that was missing was a good old sing-along. This was rectified with a rousing group encore of Poor Old Horse. On the strength of this outing, one suspects that Stick In The Wheel’s debut Lowdham show will not be their last.

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