Rogue's Gallery: Barbican, London

Barbican, London
Original collaborations in event produced by Hal Wilner

A note on the running order summed up this wildly adventurous show: "PD will be inserted when he comes." Pete Doherty did not in fact show, but it did not matter. An extraordinary cast were assembled, and for four hours and 44 songs, they swapped vocals in ever more unlikely combinations, backed by an impressive house band. Who would have imagined Shane MacGowan teaming up with Hollywood star Tim Robbins, or cartoonist Ralph Steadman singing about cannibalism, urged on by a chorus that included the finest performers in British folk? Who would expect sea-faring songs from Martha Wainwright?

Rogue's Gallery started out as an idea by Johnny Depp and his director Gore Verbinski when they were filming the Pirates of the Caribbean series, and was transformed into an album of "pirate ballads, sea songs and chanteys" two years ago by producer Hal Willner, featuring the likes of Bono and Nick Cave. Willner assembled a slightly different cast for this show, but retained the traditional material matched with a dash of anarchy.

Martin Carthy was joined by his wife Norma Waterson, who added a powerful finale of Shallow Brown, and daughter Eliza, who sang and provided rousing fiddle. It was a good night, too, for Richard Thompson's son Teddy and daughter Kami, and there was impressive vocal work from the Scottish Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis, as well as a particularly filthy version of Good Ship Venus by former punk Richard Strange. It was a unique event, and it worked.


Robin Denselow

The GuardianTramp

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