Home > Reviews > Live Reviews > 03/02/2013 | The Be Good Tanyas – Barbican, London

03/02/2013 | The Be Good Tanyas – Barbican, London

Lisa Ward


When you’re a band member down due to an accident, the decision to go on tour might seem a risky one. Still the group have pressed on, substituting in a friend from back home, Caroline Ballhorn, for the injured Sam Parton. Whilst her vocals add welcome depth at times, the replacement doesn’t quite match up to the sounds of Sam’s mandolin. Nevertheless, The Be Good Tanyas pull it off, with Trish Klein stealing the show.

Whilst Frazey’s vocals are the mark of the Be Good Tanyas sound, this is carried by Trish’s musical accompaniments, which range from sympathetic to frenzied throughout the course of the show. Nowhere is this more apparent than in a cover of Dylan’s One More Cup of Coffee, with Trish managing to pull my complete attention as her fingers fly across guitar strings. Whilst Frazey’s vocals carry the emotion of the song, it’s the guitar which holds the heart.

Elsewhere the night is littered with the bands more forlorn sounds, or as Frazey likes to term them their ‘funeral songs’, with In My Time of Dying and a version of Washington Phillips’ Waiting Around To Die. Still, it’s not all doom and gloom and in the encore we’re treated to an outstanding version of Prince’s When Doves Cry complete with Michael Jackson inspired dance routines, which they claim might improve the genre of folk ‘in just a small way’.

Bird of Paradise from Frazey’s solo album, Obadiah, feels almost experimental in comparison to the rest of the set, but this is balanced by The Lakes of Pontchartrain which is stripped back to a duet. Elsewhere they deliver a beautiful rendition of Light Enough to Travel and a rocky version of Neil Young’s For The Turnstiles, which is driven by the drum and double bass and met with lavish applause. Though I’m dismayed that The Littlest Birds doesn’t make the set, this is counter balanced by the addition of Ootischenia, which sees the banjo and vocals blend together in harmony.

At times Frazey’s vocals drift beyond their distinctive nature to an even greater drooling sound, at times making the lyrics indistinguishable. Yet somehow this is what makes the performance stand out, moving it away from the sometimes crisp production of their albums to a more authentic hazy folk sound for which the band has become renowned.


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Images copyright © Jo Cox. All rights reserved.

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