Tonight's event is part of this week's "Folk Britannia" series featuring the "Daughters of Albion": Norma Waterson, June Tabor (below), Eliza Carthy (right), Kathryn Williams, Sheila Chandra and Lou Rhodes. Carthy, acting as mc, introduces the evening as a kind of selection of English women's song through the ages and takes pains to point out that they aim to draw on a wide variety of styles, not just folk. The appearance later of songs by P.J. Harvey and Kate Bush bear this out.
A particular highlight of the evening for me was Tabor's selection (particularly "Lili Marleen"), mostly sung to an understated piano accompaniment (Huw Warren), occasionally joined by the small group of players (Martin Carthy, Neil MacColl et al) under the sympathetic direction of Kate St John. I also really enjoyed the songs of Lou Rhodes, singer with drum-and-bass outfit Lamb, not someone who I had come across before.
The voices of the six women are strikingly different in quality: Waterson and Carthy's strong resonant lowish pitches and Tabor's deep mellifluous tones at the low end of the vocal spectrum contrasing with the sometimes frail but haunting high notes of Kathryn Williams. Her "First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" is magical.
Vashti Bunyan, scheduled to appear in tomorrow night's concert, also makes a suprise appearance before half-time. She looks ill-at-ease on stage (is this her first stage appearance for 35+ years?) but we like her songs.