Yes - the current BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards Best Band; something they will enjoy being part of every press release, poster, flyer, review and interview they get for the next 12 months. Not that they are in any way milking it or that the award would ever change the Young'Uns philosophy, enthusiasm or commitment to what they do on record or in folk clubs and festivals up and down the country. Good selling point though as many of the sell out dates on their current tour testify.
As far as live acts go, people talk about likes of U2 and Springsteen being able to make an arena or a stadium feel like a club. It's something that The Young'Uns do just as well in the way they make a theatre or a folk club feel…erm...like a folk club. Sounds a bit daft, but to clarify, it's the way in which they banter amongst themselves, chatting about what to sing next while chopping and changing their minds. The overriding feeling is just like you're sat in a bar with them, in fact not dissimilar from the way they started in the game themselves - apart from the fact that they are on a spotlit stage (apparently a good one for stomping too) and we're all sat in tiered seating which kind of shatters the illusion. You feel like you're watching, and taking part in, a pub singaround. David Eagles snubbing the accordion on a couple of occasions due to 'hot hands' - must be a technical term between accordion players - meant that there were a few "shall we do…?" moments but that's all part of the charm and Young'Uns experience and makes you feel as though you're not getting some carefully rehearsed ab libs and standard show across thirty nights of a tour. Granted, there was also some vociferous support from a buoyant section of the audience to add to the atmosphere, plus the fact that at the end of the night, they stepped out of the lights and into the shadows of the auditorium for an unplugged 'John Ball' to end the night.
As a trio, they seem to be well established in their onstage roles; Sean as the hands in pockets, more studious folkster and chief songwriter in the band whose more understated and sincere manner is countered side of the opposite side of the stage by Mr David Eagles. A man who thankfully, declines any expectation to kowtow to expectations about good taste and political correctness, he provides not only the deeper tomes in the three pronged singing attack, but keyboard duties plus a significant portion of the humour which goes hand in hand with the songs at a Young'Uns gig. For anyone who thought alternative and improvised stand up ended in the eighties when Ben Elton went all musical theatre and Rik Mayall became the New Statesman, think again - it's alive and well and safe in the hands of David Eagle and his alternative folk band. Between them stands Michael Hughes, often the butt of Mr Eagle's quips and responsible for setting off a mid gig band meeting, which verged on a comical break up before our very eyes, all concerning keys and who sets what, according to Mr Eagle, he stands in the middle looking all pretty and camp, a position briefly offered to the evening's support, Inti Rowland, before all settled down again.
They do actually have a new record out, 'Another Man's Ground', upon which the majority of the set is placed. Containing the usual collection of material ranging from Sean's original songs and interpretations of those of the likes of Billy Bragg, Graeme Miles and Ewan MacColl - all heroes and songwriting idols of the trio whose songs still punctuate the set and who provide the inspiration behind their own material. Regardless of their new found status and despite their modesty and David's remarkable trousers, The Young'Uns continue to be folk music phenomenon with a growing reputation, creating a buzz louder than a swarm of outraged bees.
Words & Pic:Mike Ainscoe
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