Concert Review – Home Service

Concert Review – Home Service – Lichfield Guildhall – Friday 26th April 2013

Reviewed by: Ben Macnair

Political songwriting, and sterling musicianship were the orders of the day when Home Service appeared at Lichfield’s Guildhall.

The Home Service

The group, led by singer songwriter and guitarist John Tams, also featured the skills of Graeme Taylor on electric guitar and vocal, Steve King on Keyboards and vocals, Jon Davie on Bass and vocals, Michael Gregory on Drums, Paul Archibald on Trumpet and Flugelhorn, Roger Williams on Trombone, and Andy Findon on Saxophones, Whistles, and Picolo.

With soundscapes that ranged from pure folk to blues, jazz, and even an arrangement that would have sounded at home on a Frank Zappa album, the band provided entertainment throughout their lively, spirited set.

Starting of with ‘Napolean’s Grand March’ an instrumental that featured the brass section, they moved onto ‘Walk my Way’ and the ballad of ‘Snowfalls’. The lively ‘Don’t let them grind you down’ was a bit of light relief, whilst ‘The Lincolnshire Poesy’ was a five part folk suite, but it incorporated unusual keyboard sounds and altered timing, to give it an unsettling tone and feel. It was an experimental arrangement in the best sense.

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The protest song ‘I’m Alright Jack’ was a timeless song about greed, sadly still as relevant today as it was when it was written, whilst ‘Peatbog Soldiers/Rattle the Van’ was a good way to finish the first half of the concert.

‘Popa Joe’s Polka’, an instumental named after a pub started the second half, whilst ‘The Old Man Song’ a song written in the band’s youth was a piece that musicians had all grown into. ‘The Galliard’ and ‘The Brawl’ were two instrumentals written by the group’s guitarist Graeme Taylor, and were contrasting pieces, both full of drama, and playing of the highest standard from all members of the ensemble.

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‘A whole new vision’ was another upbeat protest song, whilst ‘My Bonnie Boy/Scarecrows’ was a high quality slow ballad, that sequed into an extract from Vaughan William’s ‘The Lark Ascending’ transcribed from Violin to Picolo, and expertly performed by Andy Findon.

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This was a good night of entertainment, and shows that there is still a need for this type of politically charged songwriting.

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