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Friday, 1 February 2013

Gigs - The Be Good Tanyas - Royal Northern College of Music

Star rating - 8/10

The Be Good Tanyas from Vancouver are usually  an all female trio, but as their cellist Samantha Parton had a car accident last September, they are touring with a little help from friends. But their set of glorious harmonies was enchanting all the same.

They do great cover versions to be sure - Dylan's One More Cup of Coffee; T for Texas by Lynyrd Skynyrd; a Neil Young cover which for me like all covers of his songs is vocally much better than the original, Birds; and a lovely rendition of Prince's When Doves Cry, which was accompanied by strange dance in tribute to Michael Jackson. But the BGTs are very accomplished songwriters and talented musicians in their own right.

Frazey Ford does the front of house duties and is clearly a driving force, but Trish Klein is a wonderfully understated performer on the side. The Junkie Song showcased their  beautiful, sad, clear, soaring vocals. And the long luxurious set included uplifting numbers like Light Enough to Travel, and a wonderful two handed encore song Lakes of Pontchartain.

As well as songs from the trios three critically acclaimed albums, the set also included some numbers from Frazey Ford's soulful solo 2010 album Odadiah. Tracks like Bird of Paradise, and the affectionate love letter to her 'hot' grandmother, Mimi Song,  showcase her distinctive laid back, almost lazy, vocal style brilliantly. 

The BGTs are a lovely mix of folk, country, and gospel - with sweet voices and a rich sound, often including banjo and double bass. They are a joy to watch, and were tonight ably supported by Emily Portman, who is fresh from her song of the year success at the Radio 2 Folk Awards this week. But the song from her set that stood out for me was not the prize winner, but a haunting lullaby called Scorching Sun about women knitting for their babies and continuing to do so as they become young men marching off to war. A lovely evening from sweet start, to glorious and triumphant finish.

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