Fay Hield & The Hurricane Party at Kings Place 4/4/14

Kings Place is a plush new contemporary arts venue near Kings Cross. Situated underneath the Guardian/Observer HQ, my gig partner for the evening described those present as a “classic Hampstead dinner party Guardianista audience”.  That meant they were possibly a little bit restrained from when I last caught Fay Hield & the Hurricane Party, at a Great British Folk Festival appearance at Butlins. But she and the band went down well and they were called back for an encore at the end.

Fay Hield was the main mover and shaker behind The Full English, the folk “supergroup” that was put together to delve into the new online archive of early 20th century folk collections and which recently scooped prizes at the BBC folk awards. Two of the songs from the Full English CD, sing-along The Man in the Moon as well as the lovely Awake Awake were performed tonight, some of the highlights from both the album and tonight’s performance. This wasn’t a Full English performance, though, so Hield delved elsewhere into her wide traditional repertoire. Naughty Baby is a traditional lullaby which goes into great detail about threats of beating, dismembering then eating the subject of the song if it won’t stop crying. (With lyrics like that this could only be either a traditional English folk gig or a Norwegian death metal gig). For some unfathomable reason this song fell into obscurity  compared to other popular lullabies which we still hear sung to young children today. But Hield delivers a memorable version of the song’s gruesome lyrics. Other songs tonight include Grey Goose and Gander, King Henry, both from her first album.

Hield has a strong, characterful and distinctive voice, perfect for traditional material of this type. Her blunt Yorkshiresque banter between songs goes down well with the audience and she also has a fine band of supporting musicians. This includes the hugely talented Sam Sweeney on fiddle. One niggle about tonight’s performance is that the band, although they got to perform a number of instrumentals, never got the benefit of a proper introduction. I hope that’s put right next time.

During the show, however, Hield did announce she will be returning with the Full English line-up for a tour in the Autumn – and that will certainly be something I’ll look out for.


2 thoughts on “Fay Hield & The Hurricane Party at Kings Place 4/4/14

  1. Another thing which always strikes me when I hear Fay Hield perform is the almost evangelical zeal she has for English folk music. I once heard her speak about the folk club she has helped set up in Sheffield where she’s trying to attract new followers of the music, people who haven’t grown up with it, so trying to preserve the tradition but at the same time break down some of the barriers which put people off from taking part or even going into folk clubs. Fascinating, I think.

    One thing I do wonder about is to what extent the audience at King’s Place were really made up of the Hampstead dinner party set as your friend suggested. I think a lot of people would have gone along to see her perform anywhere. There was a fair amount of joining in with the singing which maybe implied there were a fair number of hardened folkies in attendance?



  2. Thanks for that Peter. The Hampstead dinner party remark was a tongue-in-cheek remark (although it is interesting to see the different types of audience that different venues attract..)


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