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St Agnes Fountain

Venue: St. Edith Hall
Town: Kemsing, Kent
Date: 08/12/17
Aggie, Aggie, Aggie... SAF @ SEF

A well-known daily newspaper has the following as its Top 10 Christmas Traditions - Christmas Cards, The Christmas Tree, Mince Pies, Christmas Stockings, Holly & Ivy, Christmas crackers, Turkey , Christmas pudding, Mistletoe and, finally, Christmas carols,

One glaring omission, you may think. The Queen's Christmas message, perchance? Not a bit of it - the answer is quite obviously the annual St.Agnes Fountain Christmas Tour.

Now in its 17th consecutive year, (a note to others - don't just rely on internet searches, 'tis lazy and may just be false news), on the evidence of tonight's show, this long-standing calendar fixture shows no signs of wilting, indeed it seems to continue to go from strength to strength. With excellent sound and lighting, and a stunning backdrop, the group were certainly on top form here, fresh from a highly successful appearance at an equally cold Great Britsh Folk Festival.

In many respects you think you know exactly what you are going to get, the group's unique take and arrangements of seasonally-related musical fare, dished up with more than a dollop of humour and bonhomie with just the occasional serious note, (which tonight included the request for support for this year's charity, Roundabout - for homeless youngsters), together with spoken word contributions from each performer. That, maybe, has always been a strength of the outfit, except... Except that it never actually turns out that way, and there are always, seemingly, little tricks hidden up the proverbial sleeves. It would be churlish to unveil what those might have been, who wants to spoil the evening of those attending later in the tour? Suffice to say, I'm sure you will have fun.

What can be revealed, however, is that not only was their latest, 2017, release, 25/12, more than adequately represented, (i.e. in its entireity - a fact revealed on their own web-site, so no spoiler here,) a powerful version of Jackson Brown's Rebel Jesus, in particular, going down a storm, but the second set witnessed many older, much-loved crowd pleasers. These included I Saw Three Ships, A'Soalin and We Three Kings. Thus a healthy balance was struck, surely pleasing all? That was certainly the case tonight, with an enthusiastic crowd baying for a well-deserved encore, no doubt fuelled by the free festive food provided by the promoter.

Whilst, for the most part of the year David Hughes, Chris Leslie, Julie Matthews & Chris While successfully pursue other avenues, long may this annual tradition continue - this was an evening of such warmth and enjoyment, and a real antidote to both the outside cold and seemingly relentless ills of the world.

David Pratt words and pictures

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