Dave Bainbridge and Sally Minnear at the Bedford in London

Dave and Sally on stage

Tonight, is folk gelled together with a sprinkling of prog rock! And off I went, to the Bedford in Balham, southwest London, to a small and quaint venue that was gorgeously adorned with wood finishings and plush red curtains. It felt very 1600s, even if the variety of modern stage equipment breaks the illusion upon closer inspection.

First up was Chas Cronk of The Strawbs fame, was joined by musicians Betty D and Martin Taylor. Playing an assortment of folk-style originals, Chas Cronk and accomplices drew the crowd in with some melancholic numbers, as well as more upbeat covers such as Gnarls Barkley‘s Crazy. When the vocal harmonies gelled together between Martin and Betty, a little bit of magic was brought into the room – particularly so on classic tune Copperhead Road.

Chas Cronk and associates

As for the main event, it was up to Dave Bainbridge and Sally Miinear to entertain – and they did not disappoint. With Dave playing a number of tracks from his tenure in the band Iona, he had plenty of material to choose from. Combined with Sally offering up her gorgeous vocals with an assortment of percussion instruments, the duo had all of their bases covered.

One of my favourite Sally moments from the evening was her performance on the song Iona – something more serene that allowed for her voice to really shine through. Being subtly operatic, her vibrato was truly divine. There was also a gorgeous improv track which involved Sally layering her voice inside a looper, before Dave took to the guitar to work his magic over the top and then the entire track launched into an improvised fast-paced jig. Oh, did I mention the jigs?

Throughout the night we were treated to a series of Celtic-style folk jigs that were expertly performed on the Bouzouki. My knowledge of classic Celtic folk is sadly not enough to discern the iconic pieces, but I think that’s where setlist.fm comes into play to help us out…

Sally had a number of percussion instruments in addition to her voice

The number closing the first of two sets relied on loopers once again to bring the arrangement together, and took us to a place of fantasy. Hearing the different layers interact with each other through the different phases of the song led to an impressive performance from the duo.

The jig for four Bouzouki’s was joyful too, more commonly known as Humours Of Ballyloughlan. But Grace, I hear you asking, there’s only one Bouzouki on stage? Well, Dave looped the four parts in a round, and each time the loop reset we got a new set of melodies, countermelodies, and richer chords expanding on the beautiful tune. I found myself completely lost in this one!

As well as being a master Bouzouki player, and pianist, Dave found the opportunity to tastefully shred his electric guitars too

So what have I learnt from this evening? That as it turns out I’m a big fan of a folk jig, as well as the general performances and playing of Dave Bainbridge and Sally Minnear. What originally peaked my ear was Dave’s performance on Cruise to the Edge earlier this year with Lifesigns, a set of which I only caught the end of where he ran into a series of technical issues regarding his amplifier. My curiosity spiked, and I knew that there was far more to offer than an amp going wrong, and I was absolutely right.

It was a real treat to see this duo perform together in such an intimate setting, and I do hope that they’ll be back again before too long as this was quite possibly one of the most engaging and relaxing concerts I’ve been to in recent months that allowed me to let go of some of my day to day stresses – and boy did I need it!

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