Concert Review – The Churchfitters

Concert Review – The Churchfitters – Wade Street Church – January 30th 2013

Reviewed by: Ben Macnair

With more instruments on stage than the average Orchestra, the musically adventurous, and experimental folk four-piece the Church-fitters entertained a near capacity audience with their own songs, and well-chosen covers of famous songs from the folk and traditional idioms.

The Churchfitters

The band, led by brother and sister Rosie and Chris Short, on a wide range of instruments, and a strong rhythm section of New Model Army alumnus Nelson on Drums and Percussion, and bassist and instrument maker Boris Lebret on a further range of instruments, and with all four members providing harmony and lead vocals, this was a night of musical invention that many bands could not manage.

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The set ranged from their own spirited instrumentals, such as the fiddle led ‘Hammer it flat’, to a funk based piece that included a wah wah basszouki (a self made instrument, that combined the deep bass sound of a traditional electric bass, and sympathetic strings which allowed it to be played as a chordal instrument) that included Booker T and the MG’s ‘Soul Limbo’ in the coda.

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Many of the songs contained story telling narrative, such as ‘The Green Children’ which told the story of some strange foundlings on the Suffolk/Norfolk border, and illustrated the haunting tale of the story with a solo from Chris Short on Musical Saw. They tackled the traditional ‘The Little Drummer boy’ with some vigour, and this song featured unison violin and saxophone motif’s, and beat-box percussion. The haunting folk songs continued with ‘Bleeding Heart yard’ which was a murder ballad, whilst ‘Amazing’ was a pure pop song with deeper sensibilities. The first half closed with the wobble board, ukulele, and audience participation of ‘Turning of the tide’.

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As well as the bass, and Ukulele’s made from saucepans, and the Basszouki made from the hubcaps of a Mercedez Benz, a further instrument, invented by the group, the Bing Bong Machine added a dance like ambience to some of the songs, whilst the Musical saw was reprised for ‘The Silence Fell’. The solemn mood created by this song was soon changed by the group’s reading of ‘South Australia’ another radically reworked well known Sea Shanty, that allowed for spirited audience participation, and some strong drums and bass. A number of other instrumentals were played, with each group member demonstrating their versatility with the number of instruments on the stage. An encore of ‘Sing for our time on earth’ was a further demonstration of the group’s talent.

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