The older I get the harder I find it to stay up late as I have to get up really early to beat the motorway traffic to get to work. Don't therefore get to as many gigs as I would like, and when I do, I seem to spend most of the rest of the week recovering. Some bands though you simply have to make an effort to see, and Hatful Of Rain is one such band. Particularly if they are playing at Twickfolk, one of my favourite venues. Well worth the discomfort of a few days feeling tired.
Managed to grab a front row seat. There was a guy there in the front row already and he looked crestfallen when he saw I was armed to the teeth with cameras. He told me that he tried to sit at the front in order to avoid cameras. He asked if my camera had a noisy shutter. I told him it didn't and promised him that he wouldn't know I was there. Had to laugh because he proceeded to cough randomly throughout the evening, making far more noise than any camera shutter might have done.
I hadn't heard of the support before, Hayley Carlyon, but am very convinced that we'll hear a lot more of her soon. She has recently played a fairly extensive tour of America and Canada, so I think it is only a matter of time before she is a household name. She's a singer songwriter, originally from Wales, but now based in London, and describes her music as bluegrass folk Americana. Loved her original material, but the highlight of her set, for her as well as for me, was her cover of John Hiatt's "Crossing Muddy Waters". Don't know if you have seen the youtube clip of James Cordon's Late Late Show Carpool Karaoke with Paul McCartney. When Paul invited James on stage to sing "Hey Jude" with him Cordon was so overcome with emotion that he was in tears. Think Hayley felt a bit like that, as Chloe Overton from Hatful of Rain, joined her on stage to sing harmonies for "Crossing Muddy Waters". Pretty sure that Chloe is one of Hayley's heroes, or at least a major influence in her songwriting, and it looked as if Hayley felt really honoured to be sharing the stage.
She only sang six songs in total. Woud have loved to have heard more, and will definitely make an effort to inflict another late night on myself to see her again.
If you've not ever seen Hatful perform before, they too are a mixture of folk, blues and Americana with a touch of bluegrass. James Shenton plays violin (and also keyboards - but not generally on stage due to the lack of space in transporting instruments to gigs), the others, Fred Gregory, Phil Jones and Chloe Overton all sing, provide harmonies and play a variety of instruments, which get swapped around between them. They have one central microphone on the stage, so they are constantly active, moving to get near the microphone then moving away so that others can get there. Always a very lively show.
Their show is always full of humour. Chloe announced that they had changed their name to Hatful Of Sun. James, (who I don't think usually sings anyway) apologised for his backing vocals as he'd just had a throat infection - however he'd just had a kebab, which had fixed the problem. Phil responded by saying that it was the front two rows of the audience he felt sorry for. A mixture of infection and garlic.
They are currently on tour promoting their third album "Songs Of The Lost And Found". They played almost all of the album, only missing "But For You" and "Collared Dove". Most of the songs from the album were therefore new to me, apart from one of the tracks, "Sinking Like A Stone" which I know quite well, as they've been playing it live now for around four years - another beautiful anthem by Chloe and high time it was recorded.
'The Chloverton', as Phil calls her, is the main songwriter of the band, and has written some of the most beautiful yet emotionally heart-wrenching songs I've heard such as "Evangaline", "The Exit Song", "Way Up On The Hill" and "Scarlet Ribbon". "Start Again", "Oh The Night" and "Sinking Like A Stone", all from the new album, all now join the list as Chloverton masterpieces.
Having said that, in my opinion, the most beautiful track that they played from the new album was written by Phil: "Devils Dyke". It tells the story, from the standpoint from the widow of a soldier, of a First World War Battle: the Battle of the Boar's Head. It was on the eve of the Battle of The Somme, and was intended as a diversionary tactic to take the enemies attention away from the main focus. The enemy though knew they were coming, and the British Battalions, were unprepared. They had practised in advance in a mock up of the area set out at Devil's Dyke, but hadn't got the geography quite right and weren't aware of a ditch. Over a thousand men were killed and another thousand wounded. The event became known as the day that Sussex died.
From their first album, they played "No Return" (apparently written by Chloe for her husband, who didn't like it!) and the bouncy foot tapping "Strawberry Leaves" - not all of their material is gloom and doom, though they are rather proud of their reputation - a recent review described Phil's song "I Thought You Would Live" as a song of abject misery, which Phil was very pleased with.
From the second album they played "These Streets" and "Scarlet Ribbon". Not sure whether the latter was on their set list, but I requested it when they came on for their encore and they were kind enough to play it for me. They also included a couple of songs, "Walking Boss", and "False False" from their EP, "Climb The Air", which was released to showpiece some of the traditional material that they also play along with their own compositions. The only traditional track they played, not from the EP, was "Say Darlin' Say", hugely entertaining as Phil continuously circled James to get to the microphone, so poor James was constantly trying to step out the way.
Set List - Hayley Carlyon
Crossing Muddy Waters
Your Cheating Heart
Coming Back To Me
Walk On Boy
Set List - Hatful Of Rain
Where There's Life
Won't Be Druv
Sinking Like A Stone
I Thought You Would Live
Say Darlin' Say
Oh The Night
Down In The Town
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