Concert Review – State of Undress Christmas Show

Concert Review – State of Undress Christmas Show – Lichfield Guildhall – 14th December 2012

Reviewed by: Ben Macnair

Following successful Lichfield Arts performances at the Fuse Festival and the Roots and Folk Festival the popular folk rock band State of Undress returned to play their first headlining gig at the Guildhall, when they performed their festive programme.

The five piece, dorset based band played a mixture of their own material, carefully chosen pop covers and traditional songs, as well as some readings in a show that offered a lot for the money.

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Animated singer Charlie Rose, and guitar, mandolin and vocalist Alan Rose were supported by the strong rhythm section of Harry O’Shea on bass, and Keith Fletcher on drums and percussion, whilst most of the instrumental heavy lifting was provided by Jerry Bird who proved equally adept on fiddle, mandolin, concertina, and guitar.

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Some of the music worked really well, with tunes such as ‘Santa Claus is coming to town’ turned into an almost jazz piece, and the performance of Chris Rea’s ‘Driving Home for Christmas’ was wrestled from under the usual production tricks that turned the song into the mawkish Radio 2 favourite that it is usually known as. However, the performance of ‘Fairytale of New York’ was turned into an almost punkish singing match, and the faster pace robbed the performance of the song’s usual pathos.

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The group’s treatment of such traditional folk songs as ‘The Hangman’s Daughter’ and ‘The Raggle Taggle Gypsy’s’ gave full rein to the band’s abilities, and Charlie Rose’s Stevie Nick’s like vocals. Their own songs, such as ‘Christmas Round ours’ was a festive ditty, that allowed for some fine audience participation, whilst ‘The Legend of Christmas Eve’ featured in the first half, and also served as a fitting encore to this seasonal evening of entertainment from a talented band.

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