Sidmouth FolkWeek Review: The Young‘uns + Pete Coe + Talisk

The Young'uns. Photo: Paul Strange.

The Young'uns. Photo: Paul Strange. - Credit: Archant

The final Ham Marquee concert of Sidmouth FolkWeek 2016 was a noteworthy and memorable show. Offering a quality blend of traditional folk with a modern twist, it presented an intriguing combination of youth and experience.

Talisk. Photo: Paul Strange.

Talisk. Photo: Paul Strange. - Credit: Archant

Talisk – winners of the 2015 BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award – opened up the busy evening. One of the fastest rising bands on the British folk scene, Mohsen Amini (concertina), Hayley Keenan (fiddle) and Craig Irving (guitar) delivered an engaging and spirited performance of some delightful jigs and reels.

Immensely tight with huge musical understanding between the three of them, they gave total commitment as their short and precise set – featuring material from their albums Abyss and Pinnacle 67 – progressed. It quite rightly earned them loud applause from what was rapidly becoming a full house.

Pete Coe – who’s been described as ‘a one-man folk industry’ – followed. An experienced singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist (including melodeon, banjo, dulcimer and bouzouki), the tall and lanky Cheshire-born troubadour also has a fine line in self-deprecating droll humour. His well-judged and popular set offered numerous crowd-pleasers, peppered with singalong choruses, and he was greatly appreciated by what had now become a sell-out crowd.

The Young‘uns – BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winners of Best Group for the last two years – made superb headliners. The vocal trio – Sean Cooney, David Eagle and Michael Hughes from Stockton, County Durham – proved overwhelmingly why they have carved themselves a unique niche in modern folk.

Pete Coe. Photo: Paul Strange.

Pete Coe. Photo: Paul Strange. - Credit: Archant

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Instantly recognisable, with their pitch-perfect harmonies, and amusing quips and biting humour between numbers, their set kept up a strong and solid pace, rarely dragging its heels.

Occasionally they added subtle accompaniment to their material, but they were at their best singing a ccapella, with shanties and songs such as their opener A Place Called England making the hairs on the back of your neck bristle. One of the set’s most memorable highlights was Dark Water, the story of two men swimming in the Aegean Sea having escaped war-torn Syria.

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As the Young’uns’ set wound down – via a powerful encore about whale killing – it was clear that we had witnessed something very special indeed.

Goodbye Sidmouth FolkWeek 2016. Bring on FolkWeek 2017!

Paul Strange

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