Review: Iain Mitchell, 5th July
By Dave Hart
What a breath of genuine Scots air, in more ways than one. A voice like a Scottish gale indeed. I’ve known this wee lad for some decades now and his ability to regale with song and yarns is legendary.
He is steeped in his traditional roots and from an early age has surrounded himself with the music and songs of performers of a very high calibre, such as The Corrie Folk trio, Archie Fisher and Hamish Imlach. He has also appeared on the same bill as such luminaries as Dick Gaughan and Billy Connelly.
His concert at The Christchurch folk club in early July reminded us all of Mitch’s fine stage presence and ability as a folk raconteur. He shared his material as warmly as ever, assisted by three of Christchurch’s finest; Jimmy Young and Davy Stuart and the silky voice of Denny Stanway.
Mitch started with “Spencer the Rover” and “Paddy lay back”. Good to hear his rendition of “Haughs of Cromdale”, reminiscent of Dick Gaughan. A song which always does it for me was “The Flower o’ Northumberland”, with Jimmy on small pipes, contrasting nicely with “Slieve Gallion braes”, with Denny.
The second half kicked off with “Lads of the fair” and “At a country fair dance”, the latter being one of Mitch’s forays into a very different song style. Davy joined Mitch for the next two, “Nor’ land wind” and “Udnie’s wa’s”. No Mitch concert would be complete without “The Engineers’ picnic”, a song of shore leave, followed by a fine version of “If I had a boat”, ably assisted by Denny.
The general mood was then transformed by another of my favourites, Mitch’s very personalised version of Richard Thompson’s “Vincent 52”. If Mitch thought that he could escape the stage after his final song, “Rambling Rover”, he was mistaken as he was forced back to give us “Mary and the Soldier”.
What a refreshing night. It was so good to have songs with which the crowd could join in and so good to have this fine performer in our midst again, to share his love of things Scottish. (To Mitch, “Bantam Of The Opera” have long since forgiven you for taking off up north...please return to us soon to give us all more of our and your favourites.)