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Review: Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick, Tyneside Irish Centre

Martin Ellis ventures to the Tyneside Irish Centre to check out English folk music superstars Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick

Jeremy Pardoe Dave Swarbrick performing live
Dave Swarbrick performing live

These are elder statesmen of English folk music and they have been elder statesmen for many years.

They were traditional folkies in the early Sixties and folk-rockers in the late Sixties.

The evening opened with Sovay, a song which most of the audience will have heard guitarist Martin Carthy perform many times.

Over two long sets they played many well loved songs and tunes from their back catalogue.

I have fond memories of seeing fiddler Dave Swarbrick in the much-missed basement of the Bridge Hotel. He has had health issues and is no longer the agile, animated stage performer.

Fortunately Swarb’s fingers and bowing action is as controlled and precise as ever. Carthy accompanied Swarb with delicate restraint.

Martin Carthy has been a collector of English traditional ballads most of his 70-plus years. He shared with the audience his memories of learning songs from singers. His connection to the source of his songs perhaps explains his trademark passionate delivery.

The evening finished, appropriately enough, with an extended version of Byker Hill, the title track of their 1967 album and local standard.

It was a treat to see superstars in such a small and intimate venue.

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