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Review: Cambridge Folk Festival 2015 – Saturday

Lisa Ward


Gretchen Peters is something of a main stay name when it comes to Cambridge, but back with her latest album Blackbirds she doesn’t disappoint. With newer songs mixed in which much loved songs from Hello Cruel World such as Woman On The Wheel and the title track, she leaves the crowd hanging on every word. For me it’s the atmospheric When All You Got Is A Hammer and Black Ribbons which plays homage to the oil spills in Mexico which prove Peter’s is one of the most important song writers of this generation. Coupled with the moody Everything Falls Away it’s a hard hitting set filled with emotion.

Without a doubt the highlight of the day comes in the form of Skinny Lister. Their uptempo set has stage 2 bursting at the seams, with bodies jumping up and down to their rhythmic offerings. John Kanaka gets the whole crowd joining in, pint glasses held high, meanwhile Trouble On Oxford Street highlights why they’re a much loved party band, who defy the crowd not to tap this feet along to the beat. With the band engaging in their usual dose of crowd surfing,Lorna Thomas defies logic jumping straight in complete with double base. Whilst Bonny Away displays the bands softer side, it’s clearly the rousing anthems which the crowd love the most with Rollin’ Over acting as one of many highlights of their set.

Over in the club tent Ange Hardy brings a more gentle offering to the afternoon. Opening with an a cappella version of the traditional She Moved Through The Fair she sets the scene and highlights the power of her voice. It’s however The Lost Soul which tells the story of her troubled teens which saw her living and busking on the streets of Ireland. Not only able to capture her own life she’s equally able create and capture stories of others. From the haunting Mother Willow Tree to The Sailor’s Farewell she couples heartfelt lyrics with spellbinding melodies to great effect.

As the evening draws in, Show of Hands who steal the show on the main stage. Arrogance, Ignorance and Greed feels like the perfect anecdote to the more recent election outcomes. Meanwhile Longdog and Cousin Jack get the whole crowd involved, the field offering up harmonies to the bands numbers. In the case of Cousin Jack this is a spellbinding moment that will no doubt linger on the crowds mind, long after the festival is over.

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