Folk royalty shine & curate a hugely entertaining show

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Friday, 4th June 2021, 2:29 pm
Updated Friday, 4th June 2021, 2:52 pm

Folk music royalty graced Brighton Dome’s stage and the city’s laptops on Saturday (May 29) as Eliza and Martin Carthy performed – East, an engaging evening of music, spoken word and dance with an impressive little roster of guest contributors.

The UK’s first family of folk were in good voice and good form for the show which was their first in 15 months. It was trialled as an exploration of the myths, legends, songs and stories of England’s Eastern Seabird - or in Eliza’s words: “A loose concept played by loose people.” Martin and Eliza, playing acoustic guitar and violin respectively, were joined by a cellist, a sitar player, and occasional support from an energetic tap-dancing banjolele player.

Twice Mercury Prize-nominated Eliza has an infectious passion for traditional music, a voice to chill the bones and a relaxed, sometimes slighty saucy line of chat for the socially-distanced Dome theatre-goers and those live-streaming the event (“Hi to everyone watching in their living room in their pants!”).

Eliza & Martin Carthy

Her father Martin recently celebrated his 80th birthday and it was a privilege to hear the man who inspired Paul Simon and Bob Dylan singing a poignant version of Scarborough Fair.

The Carthy’s contacts book must also be a thing of wonder, considering the show’s guest performers. Wilko Johnson chopped and strutted his way through two nicely ragged blues numbers, while actors Miranda Richardson and Kenneth Cranham both used their monstrous stage presence to great effect on three readings, most memorably Cranham’s retelling of Kipling’s tale of tbe British soldier Tommy.

The stellar guests added to the night’s spirit of variety, in the collaborative tradition of folk music .

Eliza & Martin Carthy, with Wilko Johnson