Sunday, 16 September 2018

Cara Dillon gig review

Cara Dillon played at The Platform in Morecambe last night (15 Sept), these dates being billed as the Duo Tour. Cara told us that she and husband Sam started doing low-key gigs, just the two of them, around their home in Somerset but found that they were proving more popular than the band shows so they are out on the road together with Cara on vocals and occasional whistle and Sam on piano and guitar. I must say that not having seen them for a few years, Sam's guitar playing has greatly improved. Previously his guitar work seemed to be mainly influenced by his brother Sean, who has quite an aggressive style of playing, but Sam has obviously been working on his finger-picking so there is more variation, which is never a bad thing.

We were treated to most of the songs from her latest "Wanderer" album plus a selection of older material including 'There Were Roses', 'She's Like The Swallow' and 'The Hill of Thieves'. According to Sam, Cara had been reluctant to record 'Blackwater Side' as it is such a classic folk song. This surprised me a bit as she had previously recorded 'She Moved Through The Fair' which I would have said was a more iconic song, especially the Fairport version with Sandy Denny on vocals. Cara's take on 'Blackwater Side' is good enough but the times I've heard her sing ...Fair, it has sent shivers up and down my spine. Sadly we didn't get to hear it last night.

But of the songs from the new album, 'Both Sides of the Tweed' sounded good and Cara's interest in songs about emigration was revisited in her composition 'The Leaving Song' which was written about the living wakes they used to have in Ireland. These were evenings of song and dance, and doubtless a few drinks, to celebrate the life of someone who was leaving for a new life across the ocean. And as Cara said, these people were often never heard from again.

While many of the songs were quite downbeat, in the best folk tradition, there were plenty of laughs from the stories we got from both Cara and Sam with one lovely one concerning their twin boys' first day at big school. Back when I first saw them in the early 2000s, when brother Seth was third member of the group, Sam was the quiet, sombre-looking presence behind his keyboard. But these days he is much more relaxed which makes for a more enjoyable evening out. 

And as the first Xmas card junk mail comes through the door, it seemed timely for Cara to mention her Christmas tour when she and Sam will be joined by other musicians for some seasonal tunes. The tour is coming to Manchester on the 9th of December.

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