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Friday, 2 December 2011

Jamie Smith's Mabon hits the road in style

On Wednesday night Jamie Smith's Mabon blazed through The Old Queen's Head in Islington and rather a lot of people packed into a warm room with each other's germs and some splendiferous chandeliers made out of gramophone horns to see them.

They were ably supported by Maia, who write a lot of songs about large objects hurtling through space, and whom I'd definitely also travel to see: it was quite an evening. So here's the Mabon playing a tune called The Gordano Ranter, which came with a hilarious passive-aggressive intro about how it's named after someone unpleasant they met, who was ranting at the Gordano service station. "And now we have a bit of a rant about him every time we play it," Smith nodded.

They're a seriously classy live act, though not exactly a dance band because many of their tunes are a bit too rhythmically complex for that to work out: they say they're as happy playing a sit-down arts centre or a theatre auditorium as a pub. Oli Wilson-Dixon supplies some soulful, gypsy-style fiddle and harmonic seagull-sounding noises, as well as reeling meanly in tandem with Mr Smith himself, on accordian.

Memorably, an audience member shouted "Easy on the fucking reels, you bastards" toward the end and for a long moment it was impossible to tell whether it was a suggestion for the final encore - things were getting a bit sweaty - or the best heckle ever at a folk gig. Both, as it turned out because the last tune was called Easy on the Reels.

However, it wouldn't be right to discuss their present UK tour, which is drawing to a close, without mentioning their transport, which has been causing a bit of a stir. Iolo Whelan, on drums (though not while I was talking to him), explained that it had started at breakfast the morning after the first gig, when the subject of their tour bus was under discussion and Adam Rhodes - bouzouki -  got his hands on a copy of photoshop, with which he is apparently a bit of a whiz. Well, judge for yourself...

It was posted online, to a few well-deserved gasps of awe. "But the response was also a bit mixed. I think a few people couldn't decide whether it was for real or not."

So when their tour took them to the Isle of Man, with which the band seems to have an implausibly large number of connections considering the small number of people who actually live there, they employed something a bit like a heli-cam to produce this.

However, due to some confusion about which of their two Facebook pages - the result of Facebook's faffing around, not theirs - this one was supposed to be gracing, the response was more muted than before, which a neutral observer might put down to the widespread knowledge that the Isle of Man is a very welcoming place that likes to roll out the red carpet for its visitors. Especially visitors with so many local connections.

So, to clear up any remaining confusion, this appeared shortly afterwards.

... which would come in handy for all those European celtic festivals they play. Just don't ask them how they manage to pack all their gear into such a small plane...

... because you might make them cry.

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  1. Thanks for the review Emma. I saw Mabon at Warwick Folk Festival a few years ago. I'd gone to see Seth Lakeman but loved Mabon. They played so long, Seth had to cut his set short (or maybe he was feeling lazy, who knows?)

    Just hope to get to see them again but gig dates and holidays never quite seem to match up.

  2. Here's a link to their gig list, Emma.

    Maybe there's something on there near you?


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