Oysters 3, a slimmed down version of the full band featuring founder members John Jones, Ian Telfer and Alan Prosser, an acoustic take on the popular Oysterband.
Taking the stage the trio set off on a musical journey from their origins by playing a pair of Ceilidh tunes with Alan Prosser on guitar, head nodding side to side like an incredible human metronome. The sheer enjoyment of three musicians whose playing compliments and enhances each other was evident, they were having fun and we too as an audience followed suit.
Tales of their past intertwined with the music, "Molly Bond" a man, a swan, a shooting, the story is no doubt familiar although I'd never thought of it having progressive leanings like John Jones suggests. Maybe he was teasing ;-).
The band moved on through their punk period, to the Kent Coalfield, to Kay Sutcliffe, to "Coal Not Dole", political times "Another Quiet Night In England".
It felt for all the World like a best of tour, it was that good. "Lost & Found" the single was given a polish before we were enlightened with the story of "Young Folk" v "Old Folk" at Reading Folk Club, the day after a gig at the "Town & Country" to a sell-out 2,000 capacity. It sounded like the Bob Dylan Electric/Acoustic stand off. And even if in these days I firmly belong in the "Old" section the music of the Oysters makes me want to stand, to sway, to sing and to dance albeit with two left legs and a dodgy back. Put me in a bag and shoot me.
June Tabor's involvement with the band is covered, in loving detail, boozy tours of America, Canada (only slightly censored) and East Germany and dodgy promoters before the first half closes.
Bringing us right up to date the second set kicks off with the title track off their album "Diamonds On The Water" and Ian Telfer whose fiddle has been front and foremost all evening reveals his dry deadpan sense of humour with the in between song banter. If you were to close your eyes you could swear you were listening to the late great Ivor Cutler.
Meanwhile the songs just kept on coming, encouraged by J.J. who was in excellent voice throughout we sang along as old and new seamlessly sat side by side.
A deserved standing ovation led to a committee of three decision to do the "Granite Years" before the trio finished totally unplugged with the closing track off the new album "Like A Swimmer In The Ocean".
This gig at the Town Hall is the part of the "Biddulph In Arms" celebration of Thirty Years in existence, organiser Craig Pickering bringing back those favourites who have appeared in the past. Bob Fox supported by Lee Maddison is next up on Wednesday 9th December and tickets are selling fast.
Finally, the Oysters 3 are continuing their tour in the New Year, last night was the second time I'd caught them, and on last night's performance they are getting better with each outing. Next gig is Manchester's Band On the Wall on the 15th January hopefully Meet You There.
There are only so many hours in a day and only so many gigs we can get to. We'd really like to expand our national coverage of the live scene as it remains the life blood of music.
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