Concert review: Jez Lowe at Lichfield Guildhall

Saturday 10th February saw the welcome return to Lichfield Guildhall of Jez Lowe. Having appeared at Lichfield Guildhall in 2013 with his band ‘The Bad Pennies’, tonight Jez performed two highly entertaining solo sets which included traditional folk song from Tyneside such as Market Day in Newcastle along with both old and new songs from his own huge repertoire.

Jez Lowe at Lichfield Guildhall

Between songs the audience was treated to many anecdotes and the stories behind the songs including the story about when a friends mother died it was discovered she had been an exotic dancer in London, which was the inspiration for The fan dancers daughter.

Video: Bother at the Hoppins

Jez Lowe at Lichfield Guildhall

The concert also included compositions that addressed the economic distress that the North Country has suffered as a result of this industrial decline, and the social repercussions when the pits closed and men felt rejected: The Ex Pitmans Potholing Pub Quiz Team, Black Diamonds, These Coal Town Days.

Jez Lowe at Lichfield Guildhall

Also featured were ‘Ballads from the Great War’, some of which were songs composed for the BBC Radio 2 ‘Radio Ballads’ documentary series: If I Could Buy a Blighty, Plane Back From Australia, Don’t Spend Christmas in Australia and The Wrong Bus, a song about how in 1916 infantry soldiers went into war on red double decker buses.

Video: The Ballad of Kid Canute

The final encore was ‘Back In Durham Gaol’ sung in a County Durham accent which brought tears in the eyes of many in the audience…

I’m a poor man as honest as they come
I never was a thief until they caught me,
The judge said he saw my hands were red,
No matter how I pled they found me guilty,
There was no bail, off to Durham Gaol,
I went knowing nothing now can save me,
Calamities they always come in threes,
And that’s how many months it was he gave me.


Jez Lowe at Lichfield Guildhall

A double nomination in the 2015 BBC Folk Awards – for best singer and best new song – was a timely reminder of Jez Lowe’s standing in the UK folk and acoustic music scene. Not only he is one of the busiest live performers in the country, but his songs are among the most widely sung by other performers, whether by long-established acts like Fairport Convention, The Dubliners and Bob Fox, or by the new breed of starts like The Unthanks, The Young Uns and The Duhks.

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