Live Review: Lucy Ward Band in Matlock Bath, 25/04/14

Venue: The Grand Pavilion, Matlock Bath
Date: 25/04/14

Matlock Bath is hiding something very special. To pass by you could be forgiven for thinking the once Grand Pavilion building had just been forgotten and like so many great buildings of it’s era, deteriorating and closed to the public.

Restoration is underway and this fallen beauty is opening it’s doors to quality events hosted by a team of wonderfully organised and passionate volunteers.

Lucy Ward’s final, homecoming tour date with her newly formed band was a brilliant event not just for her loyal and enthusiastic fan base, but for the promotion of the Pavilion as a great venue.

Consisting of some of the folk world’s finest musicians; Belinda O’Hooley, Heidi Tidow, Joy Gravestock, Sam Pegg and Steve MacLachlan the Lucy Ward Band impressed even before they had played a single note.

Having already set out her stall with her debut album Adelphi Has To Fly as a strong musician and writer, the award-winning singer felt the time had come to explore a new kind of sound with a full band.

As she entered the stage to cheers, the audience were in high spirits as she launched into her unmistakable and characteristic chat and a cheerful “Ey up”.

Playing songs from her current album Single Flame, her set featured a mixture of old and new with live arrangements composed especially for the band’s tour. The powerful I Cannot Say I Will Not Speak, was a potent start to the set, with the likes of The Last Pirouette the sad tale of a prima ballerina at the end of her career and the sensitive, heartfelt Icarus. Of course, the emotion is all in Lucy’s beautiful, soaring and strong voice.

Going back to her folk debut, which saw her secure BBC Radio 2 Folk Horizon Award, the band treated the audience to renditions of Julia and what has become an anthem for her hometown Derby, Alice In The Bacon Box, which got a hearty response from the audience singing along.

Most notably, Lucy is a vocalist and her voice was able to shine on the haunting, traditional song I Don’t Want To Die In The Storm. Lucy’s voice paired beautifully with Heidi and Joy who lent their sparse but perfectly placed harmonies to the song.

It was the anthemic, re-working of 80s pop classic Come On Eileen, that brought the second half to an all time high, along with a rocky version of Blondie’s Hanging On The Telephone . With jokes about their choice of covers as a band in rehearsals, they side-tracked with a humorous, off the cuff folk/ rap version of Coolio’s Gangster’s Paradise. One of the true tests of a musician is to work within any genre, let alone on the spot, on stage and under pressure. Without doubt, the Lucy Ward Band passed with flying colours.

Rounding the second half to a close, Lucy’s hard-hitting, modern day, protest song For The Dead Men was their choice of finale. Leaving the audience standing on their feet cheering for more and rightly so.

What a homecoming, and the audience weren’t prepared to let the band leave without a double encore too and a second standing ovation. Clearly overwhelmed by the reaction, Lucy took time to thank the people who’d made the tour happen. From the band, to her family and everyone behind the scenes who’d clearly worked so hard to get such a tight and precise show on the road.

With a rousing chorus of Maids When You’re Young the Lucy Ward Band finished their triumphant final tour date in her native Derbyshire, having brought life and music back to the once grand Matlock Bath Pavilion.

– Charlie Barker

View full set of live gig images: click here.

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