Sunday November 6th 2016, Tigerfolk, Long Eaton
“In my humble opinion, this could be the best night of the year at Tigerfolk. At the end of the evening, John said, if Roy Harris was with us he’d say: this is what this club is all about. I reckon that’s about right.
In passing, I’d like to say that I thought John himself was singing very well; as well as running the evening, he gave us two songs: We are the Bards and Story Tellers to introduce the evening – very appropriate to our guest – and a rendering of We Shepherds to start the third half which really suits his voice and style of delivery.
But to our guest. An unassuming man, Arthur stands almost unmoving, with his hands in his pockets, singing one song after another, interspersed with brief but always informative introductions. No fuss, no self-promotion, just that wonderful voice lost in the story of each song and giving every song its full due. How different from so many “Performers” on the scene that I can think of, who fill out their sets with endless chat at the expense of the music. I suppose it all depends whether you’ve come to listen to the music or watch a performer – there are arguments for both – but for me, it’s the songs that matter and that’s what we certainly got last Sunday; seven songs in the first 35 minutes, eight in the second set plus the encore. Of course, I took his CD away with me to carry on listening in the car on the journey home …
To give a simple list of those songs wouldn’t do justice to the way so many of them were variants of the commonly heard versions of songs we thought we know – lots of extra details in the Farmer’s Daughter from Reigate in that turned the story of her outwitting of the highwayman into a real cliff-hanger; The Bramble Briar, a version of Bruton Town with that wonderful tune where the brothers attempt to flee and meet a watery grave as their just deserts; the fullest version of Paddy West I’ve heard sung for many a year. And overall, that voice: in the Coast of Peru the notes held just to the edge of the change and dropping lingeringly over the precipice into the next phrase; such effortless control. The Parting Glass, the encore, was the version from Joe Holmes (also sung by Len Graham, another of my favourite singers) rather than the one more commonly heard; a fitting way to round off such a fine evening.
Reading through this review, I don’t know whether I’ve managed to do justice to just how fine a night it was; but I don’t know what more I can say. If you weren’t there, you’ve only got yourselves to blame. We told you how good it was going to be and we were right …”
From the December edition of Tatters, the Tigerfolk Club newsletter.
Simply Traditional – CD Review
From The Living Tradition (Issue 117, January/February 2017)
“A self admitted eclectic mix of songs Arthur has known and sung for many years, his interpretations invariably distinguished by a clear sense of direction, a measured responsiveness and a quality of delivery that’s consistent almost to a fault but stronger for all that and always eminently listenable as Arthur leads the listener sure-footedly and reliably on through the narrative. Arthur’s artistry is never less than compelling and is best taken on its own terms for maximum reward. It’s no mean feat to hold a listener’s engagement through a 7 or 8 minute timespan, and Arthur’s accounts of Bramble Briar and The Cruel Brother are object lessons in this art, with as characteristically sure a sense of pacing as he displays on the shorter songs such as I Drew My Ship, As I Roved Out, and Van Dieman’s Land. No argument here regarding Arthur’s assured place and stature within the living tradition, …”
From Musical Traditions
For me, this entire CD is a complete delight – and, I hope, not simply because Arthur is an old friend. It’s just the sort of record I’d have liked to have produced myself: good songs; beautifully sung, and no flash! And, since it’s being stocked by The Living Tradition, one can hope that it might get more exposure than it would with MT. It certainly deserves to! You can also get it directly from Arthur via: www.arthurknevett.co.uk
Rod Stradling – 18.2.17