Concert Review – Martin Carthy

Concert Review by Ben Macnair – Photography by David Jones

Lichfield folk fans were shown a master-class of traditional music making when the legendry folk singer and musician Martin Carthy appeared at Lichfield Guildhall.

In a career that has lasted more than fifty years, Carthy’s much storied career has seen him go from being a ground-breaking young lion of the folk scene, to a much revered elder-statesman. In the 1960’s his guitar style and singing influenced the young Bob Dylan and Paul Simon, whilst his later career saw him performing alongside his daughter Eliza Carthy, and playing in many bands and folk ensembles, looking to broaden both the appeal, and the sonic possibilities of an art-form that is already centuries in the making.


Now 75, with a pleasingly weathered voice, but no loss of dexterity in his playing, the strong audience who had given up their Good Friday evenings were treated to a number of songs from the folk canon, as well as some familiar instrumentals. As well as traditional fare, his own hard-hitting songs, such as Company Policy had a potent sting, addressing the lives of working men, whilst songs such as Long John and Farewell Lovely Nancy were rousing meditations about life lived.

The dextrous, musical soundscape of The Heroes of San Valerie was a perfectly performed instrumental, whilst the solo vocal treatment that opened My Son John showed Carthy’s care-worn voice to good effect. The concert closer, The Devil and the Feathery Wife was a witty re-telling of a folk legend, whilst the encore of The Harry Lime Theme from the Third Man was both a fitting, and familiar way to end this concert by one of the fore-most names in the British folk-music firmament.

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