Frank Finlayson reviews Saturday Night at the Northern Roots Festival 2012.
Sometimes people add one and one and don’t always get two. In the case of The Halton Quartet, they added two and two and they certainly got four. The group are a combination of Angus & Ruaridh Campbell and Wingin’ It, and combined they whip up quite storm. As the opening act they set the bar high with their set which contained pieces of stark beauty as they played a tribute a departed friend, doing for Roots what local band Shutter did for prog rock. This runs through pop tinged numbers to that tradition classic, ‘Toxic’, first aired by that rootsy gal herself, Britney Spears.
Next up were a trio who made a big noise at the initial Northern Roots Festival. With all seven feet stomping it didn’t take long to realise what all the fuss was about. My arithmetic is correct, you just have to witness their DIY percussion to find where the extra foot fits in. Groanbox describe their genre as World Roots?, yes, with the question mark. If they haven’t covered all the bases as they stretch out from a New Orleans core they encompass that east coast vibe up through the Appalachians capturing all in their path. There is a strong undercurrent of raw rock ‘n’ roll holding a number of the songs together with ever so subtly rude lyrics such as “Wham Bam, get rid off my dirty water ma’am”. This all before they reach out beyond their shores and across the Atlantic.
References to the Scottish connection and their song ‘The Bogey Man’; they do love it here so they say, as these roots spread wider nourishing themselves on the aural and visual world that surrounds them. With ‘Tuvan Voodoo’ they stretch themselves both vocally and geographically further, Southern Siberia to be precise. All this leads through to their final, but ultimately penultimate song, which they dedicate to the late Doc Watson. Penultimate? With crowd firmly on their side, they duly obliged host Bruce MacGregor’s request, with a final blast which made sure that everyone needed the half hour break to get their breath back.
This left the stage clear for the band from Orkney, Le Vent du Nord, to show what they could do. Well, they said they came from Orkney, but qualified it by confirming that Orkney was their most recent stopover on their way from Quebec. With humorous exchanges within the band and out to the audience, between songs, Le Vent du Nord endeared themselves to those assembled. Feet were tapping from the off, aided by fiddler Olivier Demers who foot tapping was so frenetic that at first I thought he had missed a comfort break prior to taking stage. Although singing in French, the boys were always keen to offer a translation, even if it were the same in English, or German for that matter. Stories abounded as they played their tight knit set, a set with a real traditional grounding.
Unfortunately I had to cut my night at all too short a point, make my excuses and leave, as their strains followed me out into the night air. I’m certain I was the only one who left early.
You can read the previous night’s review here.