Leveret/Spiro review – traditional tunes and trance

Cecil Sharp House, London
The two instrumental groups’ different approaches were united by virtuosity and a standing ovation

This Eccentric Orbits Tour features two of our finest exponents of English instrumental trance, a style that matches folk themes and influences against an almost hypnotic use of repetition and subtle invention. They are circling round the same ideas, they explained, but “with musical orbits following widely divergent paths”.

First up was Leveret, with fiddler Sam Sweeney joined by concertina exponent Rob Harbron, and melodeon and accordion virtuoso Andy Cutting. What was remarkable was the delicacy and quality of their playing and the empathy between the three men. Sitting on stools, they watched each other intently as they progressed from repeated melody lines to subtle, spontaneous variations. They started with Northern Lass and other traditional tunes, then introduced their own compositions, including Harbron’s exquisite and atmospheric Dundas, a tribute to a favourite spot on a canal near Bath. It was a magical set.

Spiro, who followed, took a more robust approach, prowling around the stage to perform carefully structured, complex pieces that involved neither solos nor improvisation, but with distinctive textures provided by Jane Harbour’s violin, matched against guitar and accordion, with Alex Vann’s mandolin switching between rhythm and lead. They opened with old favourites The Darkling Plains and Shaft, before moving on to their latest release, The Copper Suite, an elegant, swirling work written to celebrate the life of Bob Copper and echoing songs from his repertoire.

To close, the orbits coincided as the two bands came together to rework Scarlet and Green, greeted with a well-deserved standing ovation.


Robin Denselow

The GuardianTramp

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