Music review: Eliza Carthy & the Wayward Band

Eliza Carthy
Eliza Carthy
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EVERYONE should have a folk big band in their life, and Eliza Carthy’s Wayward Band, formed a few years back to play on her Wayward Daughter album, are a mighty 12-piece comprising string, brass, accordion, percussion and electric guitar players, fronted by the face-painted and corseted Carthy, looking like Boudica-meets-Marie Antoinette and sounding soulful and righteous.

St Luke’s, Glasgow ****

Fluently mixing up styles, tones and traditions across a potent, dynamic set, their rollicking instrumentals received a boost of rock power and martial drumming on top of the fiery fiddling. The snake-hipped and squalling brass added some New Orleans swagger to The Fitter’s Song and applied some vaudeville character to the sea shanty Great Grey Back.

Like their recent forebears Bellowhead, with whom they share an energy and ethos, the Wayward Band bounced all over the musical map, from droll tales of marrying for money and a case of 17th 
century custard poisoning to a 100-year-old anti-war lament and You Know Me, Carthy’s original folk rock fusion song of charity and welcome 
in response to the refugee crisis. There was even a token happy song, seeing as it’s Christmas.

The Sea came in waves of oompah brass fanfares and shifting time signatures, but Carthy held her own against the thrilling, involved arrangements to deliver the epic melodrama of Fade & Fall (Love Not) and a supremely sassy Willow Tree and still had something left in reserve to sprint around the venue.