Shirley Collins @ Colston Hall Bristol: Review

Legendary folk singer, Shirley Collins, along with a host of special guests took to the stage to perform her much lauded new album, Lodestar earlier in the month. 

The evening was one of nostalgia but an abundance of frivolity. Nearly forty years since her last release, Collins has managed to create album of music from a distant past but one that is still fresh and intriguing.

Kicking off in the foyer, while a bustling crowd formed on the balconies of Colston Hall, a group of Morris dancers, named ‘Boss Morris’, started proceedings with a procession around the building in colourful and unconventional garb, offering a glimpse into the evening ahead.

Once everyone had taken to their seats, the audience was treated to supporting sets by veteran folkie Dave Arthur (who later joined Shirley’s band), a spellbinding performance by Sam Lee, the angelic voiced Olivia Chaney and somewhat of an extra special performance by Blur guitarist, Graham Coxon. Then followed before the interval was a presentation of ‘record of the year’ from fRoots magazine’s editor Ian Anderson, which Shirley received with joy and sincerity.

Following a quick shuffle around in the foyer, the audience returned to see Shirley and her band perform ‘Lodestar’ in its entirety. A host of veteran musicians lined the back of the stage, with a projection of striking visuals overhead, with the front of the stage free for the merriment of the odd Morris dancer here and there.

These songs show a tribute to traditions of the past, each introduced in great detail, in that old folk tradition. Collecting songs along travels from far-flung places. A highlight being the haunting French ballad (which as Shirley exclaimed would be sung in her best Sussex French), ‘Sur le Borde De L’eau’ and the jaunty and surreal ‘Old Johnny Buckle’.

The set ended with a grand sing-along with all musicians involved in the evening taking to the stage. At 81 years of age, Shirley Collins, is a towering authority of folk music, and it was a pleasure to see her, after many years away from singing to take to the stage.

Check out ‘Cruel Lincoln’ here: 

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