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Pauline Alexander & Sandy Stanage

Venue: The Globe
Town: Glossop
Date: 30/03/17
Website: http://www.paulinealexander.com

You often wonder why promoters of live music continually take the risk of putting gigs on, the hassle of trying to attract an audience, of providing a suitable environment for artists to perform, of dealing with setbacks, especially in the Folk, Roots and Blues arena.

You wonder. Then you see the captivation of the faces of those present as they are spellbound by the act on stage.

Last night at The Globe was indeed spellbinding as Pauline Alexander, a Glaswegian lass possessed of a singing voice as pure and clear as a trickling burn, delighted and entertained in a fashion that was pure magic.

Pauline, making her fourth return to Glossop, brought with her a new partner, Sandy Stanage (Kentigern, Molendinar) who offered accompaniment on acoustic guitar.

Switching between banter in a soft and sometimes quite honestly difficult to decipher Scottish accent, (at least for this Derbyshire lad) to the incredibly sweet and clear voice when singing was a marvel. A light switch with no dimmer, either off or on.

On, she tackles the songs by the much loved and renowned Scot Dougie MacLean, ("Down Too Deep") as if she is living them, owning them in fact. You feel it is her dreams that are put on hold when obligations and expectations take priority, love takes a backstep.

She breathes emotive life into Canadian Stan Rogers's "Song of The Candle" (an artist who emerged on to my radar when Swill from The Men They Couldn't Hang added "Barrett Privateers" to their set lists). It's moving stuff.

You can't fault the choice of material, yet as good as it is the execution is truly exceptional.

In these times of division, common ground is sought, Sting's plea's in "Russians" "There's no monopoly on common sense / On either side of the political fence" is as appropriate today as it was at the time, the hopes going forward are the "Russians love their children too". A brave choice of song to cover, as is Dire Straits "Brothers in Arms". Yet it gives Stanage the opportunity to show what a talented musician he is, all throughout his playing is understated to the point of perfection, every single note counts and it is impossible not to warm to his stage persona too.

Alongside such songwriters, you could be forgiven for expecting less from original material, especially when it is claimed that one such song was written in the advertising break during "Coronation Street"! No so. The tracks from her debut album "Thoughts for The Masses" are of the highest quality offering insights into difficult subjects such as mental health, isolation and psychiatric hospitals (Where Lucifer Lingers) of abuse and family life and the view from those who care (Dear Sister). Coupled with the deeply dark "Seven Notes" which evokes visions of June Tabor's singing with the Oysterband.

Then, is if to test herself she launches into renditions of Sandy Denny's "Late November" and Mike Silver's "Where Would You Rather Be Tonight".

And when you think it can't get any better - it does. The encore, Joni Mitchell's "For Free" a song about a singer who has made it. Who travels in Limousines, with minders for the concert tour, who spots an artist on the street corner playing to the passers-by for free "Nobody stopped to hear him, though he played so sweet and high, they knew he had never been on their TV, so they passed his music by".

Pauline Alexander and Sandy Stanage are not on your TV, they are not that well known, they are however one of the best acts on the current folk circuit I've seen this year. Please don't "Pass Them By".

Support on the night was from Chris Neale, a folk singer in the Mike Harding vein, his tale about the brass band on the bus round the pubs was both entertaining and risqué. Chris brought along his daughter Isobel Flora who was possessed with a fine voice and Sam Baxter, a violinist who's studying music at University.

All in all, a cracking night, a credit to organiser Jamie Knowles and the team at the Globe.

Ian Cripps:Words and Pics

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