Concert Review – The Magical Christmas Tree

Review and photography by Ben Macnair

Lichfield Arts finished a successful 2016 with a show that packed humour, stirring musicianship, dance and movement and familiar songs performed in unfamiliar ways, when The Magical Christmas Tree closed its 2016 tour at the Guildhall.
The three-piece ensemble of Pete Morton on guitar and vocals, Chris Parkinson on Accordion and vocals, and Emily Sanders on violin and vocals kept the sizable audience entertained with a varied show that encompassed everything about the festive season.

Taking a scattershot approach to the show, (each item is randomly picked from the Magical Christmas Tree by audience members), no two shows are alike, allowing for chances to be taken, so a song would be followed by a party piece, or a dance, a monologue, a poem. The first set was started with a selection of jigs and reels, allowing the ensemble to show off their skills.

Chris Parkinson’s versatility came through during his first item, where he sang White Christmas in the style of a pub singer, played Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer on Harmonica, and Silent Night on the Swanee whistle. Some humour was provided by a demonstration of the Lincolnshire Mop Dance, whilst a rendition of House Of The Rising Sun provided suitable backing for some clog dancing.

The second half of the concert featured a wider range of music, with the bluegrass song A Rovin’ On A Winter’s Night by Doc Watson picking up the pace, whilst the delicacy of Midnight on the Water showed the trio musical credentials. There was an obvious familiarity to some of the music, with such festive favourites as Twelve Days of Christmas, The Wexford Carol and In The Bleak Midwinter all finding suitable acoustic resonances within the Guildhall.

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