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.

Contributor

Robin Denselow

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Spiro: Kaleidophonica – review
This deeply unconventional, experimental folk band have a unique, meticulously composed sound that thrills Robin Denselow

Robin Denselow

16, Feb, 2012 @10:45 PM

Article image
The Waterboys review – breathless, hair-prickling Big Music
Pan-Celtic post-punk returns with a dash of tambourines and a swirl of mysticism as Mike Scott leads his genre-hopping crew

Malcolm Jack

10, Sep, 2019 @9:23 AM

Article image
Joan Baez review – queen of folk bids a poignant farewell
Eco-protests met lover’s laments as the 77-year-old marked her final tour with a stirring reminder of her fighting spirit

Stephen Moss

29, May, 2018 @4:31 PM

Article image
Glen Hansard review – raw wounds, soulful swagger and Trump Sr
Hansard’s Southbank debut showed an artist relishing the freedom of switching genres – from Stax-y bluster to Woody Guthrie protest

Betty Clarke

11, Feb, 2018 @11:03 AM

Article image
Kabantu review – five-piece impress with soulful and swinging fusion
The Manchester-based band ranged from Brazil and Bulgaria to South Africa and Scotland in a rousing display of fine musicianship

Robin Denselow

12, Feb, 2018 @12:51 PM

Article image
Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story review – klezmer life lessons
The affecting tale of Jews escaping persecution to find new beginnings in Canada a century ago is a rollicking piece of folk music theatre

Kate Wyver

22, Sep, 2019 @3:06 PM

Article image
This Is the Kit review – soaring new star of contemporary folk
Kate Stables’s songs move from stripped-back simplicity to club-inflected grooves and she sings with purity even as her lyrics deal in blood and vomit

Dave Simpson

15, Jan, 2018 @11:09 AM

Article image
Judy Collins review – a love letter to the great American songbook
Collins is the consummate storyteller as she tours through music by Mitchell, Sondheim and ‘pathetic’ Dylan

Daniel Dylan Wray

21, Jan, 2019 @1:30 PM

Article image
Bothy Culture & Beyond review – joyous fusion of bike stunts and sonic chaos
This multimedia celebration of Martyn Bennett’s 1998 dance album, with full orchestra, was a weird fusion of the deep-rooted and brazenly off-kilter

Kate Molleson

28, Jan, 2018 @1:25 PM

Article image
Grit Orchestra/Celtic Connections review – filmic fusion from an 80-strong band
Greg Lawson’s boisterous ensemble celebrate freedom and the Declaration of Arbroath while US duo Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn add festive moonshine

Graeme Virtue

19, Jan, 2020 @2:54 PM