Concert Review: A Medieval Christmas
Concert Review: A Medieval Christmas – Lichfield Guildhall – December 23rd 2012
‘Blast from the Past’ played the last night of their Winter Tour at The Guildhall, which was a perfect setting for their Medieval Christmas show.
Their set featured long-forgotten festive songs, as well as more familiar carols, all played on authentic instruments such as the cittern, hurdy-gurdy, bagpipes and the shawm. Eric Moulder, the instrument maker and his wife surprised the musicians by turning up to see Eric’s shawms and rauchpfeifes played by Sophie and Jude!
They started the set with an atmospheric and soulful rendition of ‘Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel’ followed by a long forgotten Flemish song, played on the English bagpipes, creating a real Medieval feel.
‘Mirie It Is’ one of the oldest songs in English, dating from the mid 13th century, was a lovely arrangement of voices and featured the rauschpfeife as did the well known tune ‘Good King Wenceslas’ who was the first Christian king in the 10th century of Bohemia.
The audience was then entranced by a festive tale of quest and adventure at the court of King Arthur. A brilliantly told story concluded in the second half, with Sir Pierce of Cumbria searching for the answer to the question ‘ What do women desire most?’
A harmonious and melodic rendition of ‘Tomorrow shall be my dancing day’ and a fine rousing rendition of ‘Gaudette’ concluded the first half.
Just before the interval the audience enjoyed the colour and revelry of The Armitage Mummers’
‘Blast from the past’ returned in the second half with the story of Chanticleer and the Fox’ from The Canterbury Tales, a delightfully told story with fantastic masks!
‘The Coventry Carol’ from their mystery cycle and played on the 1450 forerunner of our guitar was a delightful return to the songs. It was followed by ‘Bring us in good ale’, not a Christmas song, but a celebratory and rousing tune on the rauschpfeifes and English pipes.
After the thought-provoking ending to the tale from the Court of King Arthur, we were treated to a joyful rendition of The Wessex Carol and a traditional and seasonal Wassailing tune, to ensure a good apple harvest next year!
‘Personet Hodie’ a full sound with some excellent pipes was the final tune before the encore.
A Medieval tune with Victorian words completed the set. ‘Ding, dong merrily on high’ was a fantastic musical ending, comprising all the range of instrumentation, leaving the audience with a truly memorable and atmospheric start to the festive season!