This past weekend was spent attending a couple of events for the Wakefield Folk Festival; this did not limit the range of the bands playing however, I saw a total of three bands and one solo artist, although that was a completely different and unexpected performance altogether…
The majority of the performances were on Friday night, in The Snooty Fox, a pub venue with a cosy stage space to the front. The bar itself was, thankfully, against the norm of typical pub conventions on this night, the main area of the bar being completely dominated by ticket holders anticipating The Doonan Family Band, the main act of the night.
I was introduced to Matt Abbott shortly after arriving at The Snooty Fox who, it turned out, was the lead singer and guitarist of the band Skint & Demoralised. An Indie-ish band with a penchant for Matt’s spoken word lyrics during the verses. Skint & Demoralised, Matt told me, were in the process of switching record labels for whatever reasons, meaning he would only be performing his self styled ‘punk poetry’ tonight, which I was already curious to hear! After discussing his band, and the music industry in general, I sat down with Matt and the others to watch.
To begin the performances, an Irish woman played accoustic guitar, with the aid of her band… For the life of me, I cannot remember the name of the woman or the band; a great shame, considering I felt an extreme resonance within myself during a lot of their melancholy fueled set. Her singing was barely more than a whisper, which made the microphone necessary, but also conveyed the emotional truth in the songs, and I’m still angry at myself for at least not picking up a flyer to learn the singer/band’s name.
While The Doonan Family Band prepared for their main set, Matt breezily stepped on stage, and surprised me completely with the content of the ‘punk poetry’ that he dished out. My imagination of him spouting loads of pretentious nonsense with little or no meaning to a crowd who would apploud confusingly was completely flipped 360! Matt had the audience laughing during his short set, which was a constant barrage of sarcastic, ironic humour, that he wielded to great effect, and I listened with a slightly agape mouth and, I’m sure, a smile showing underneath. I was reluctant to see him step down off stage, he was that comic!
Lastly, The Doonan Family Band all stepped up on stage, and from this point onward, my memory is slightly blurred, mainly due to the lemonade I was drinking. Suspiciously topped up by a clear liquid in a water bottle every so often. The rest was a mixture of upbeat, lively Irish folk tunes, two female family members dancing Irish jig to the music at an astonishing speed, and hilarious interaction between the band members, to the audience and themselves!
When the night had finally finished, I’d managed to give out my contact details to Matt (I’m aspiring to be a music journalist), get heavily drunk and have an absolutely awesome time! With the slightly dizzy memories of the alcohol and music, I went to sleep before my head hit the pillow!
After the night before, Howard Bros, the Bluegrass duo playing at Fernandes Brewery Tap seemed a little bit of a disappointment for me. Probably because of the mix of very repetitive songs, which didn’t cater much to my taste, as they were a little too off the Folk music topic, and the more traditional pub feel of the visitors. Howard Bros were playing at Fernandes for free, which meant lots of the usually mildly irritating pub stereotypes were playing up with the music, and infuriating me, frustrating me to the point where I was hoping for the set to end early. Eventually it did (end), and I was quite glad to be out of the environment, feeling a little let down, after building up the day after the previous night.
The Wakefield Folk Festival will be remembered as The Snooty Fox performances for me, mainly because of the audience’s respect and eagerness to listen, having paid to get in. This furthers my belief that gigs really can, and some do, depend on the audience as well as the acts up on a stage!
I’ll leave you with this; the music video to Skint & Demoralised’s highest charting single (#100 in the UK Charts, not too shabby), ‘Red Lipstick’.