Artrix, Bromsgrove 2015 by Rosie Hamilton, Slap Magazine

Deborah Rose featuring The O’Farrell Frolicks & Grey Wolf  Artrix, Bromsgrove 05/03/2015

It’s a year now since Welsh songstress Deborah Rose launched her last album, Song Be My Soul, at Artrix. It was an unforgettable evening which highlighted her considerable ability to evoke images through the purity of her voice and some brilliantly crafted lyrics. So we were delighted when she announced her plans to launch her next album, Wilde Wood, at Artrix on 5 March.

The last year or so seems to have been great in terms of musical experimentation for Deborah. A chance meeting with the O’Farrells Frolicks in a cafe in Bewdley has worked out really well for her. The girls, who consist of Hetty, Mari and Lucy Randle and Lindsay Farrell are talented vocalists and multi-instrumentalists (Mari and Hetty both play with SLAP favourites Vault of Eagles) and having sung a few songs with them, Deborah decided to work with them on an album of Celtic songs. More serendipity followed when she met

Grey Wolf, who are based in Ludlow, through Eva Cassidy’s brother Dan and her decided to work with them as well. Although Deborah reckons the musical sessions with the boys were accompanied by bottles of wine as opposed to cups of tea with the girls!

Deborah began her set alongside Matt Worley with Taigh Alainn and

Lady of Shallot, both favourites from her previous album, before the girls joined her on stage for the evocative Skye Boat Song which tells the story of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s escape to the Isle of Skye. It was great to see how much Deborah has evolved musically as a result of her new collaboration. Her voice dipped and soared like a bird in flight in the stunning Foggy Dew against a backdrop of Mari’s gorgeous vocals and Lindsay Farrell’s whistle and bodhran. Dance of the Rabbits, a French jig, soon had the audience tapping their toes and clapping along, as did a lively interpretation of Rocky Road to Dublin. A haunting version of Bob Dylan’s One More Cup Of Coffee contrasted brilliantly with a catchy number called Little Beggar Man which the audience loved. The first half closed with Matt returning to accompany Deborah for a beautiful version of Autumn Leaves in tribute to Eva Cassidy, a major source of inspiration to her.

The second set kicked off with Ludlows Grey Wolf, an Americana trio consisting of Ben Walsh, Banjo Jim (Allen) and Martin Thomas on stage. They began with the fast-paced Orange Blossom Special before Deborah joined them for a lovely version of Bright Morning Star. Jim Allen’s outstanding banjo playing didn’t fail to disappoint, particularly in Cuckoo, and the band played a brilliant version of Raleigh and Spencer before Deborah rejoined them for the sweet but sinister murder ballad Banks of the Ohio.

The set ended with the fabulous Little Maggie showcasing both Deborah’s vocal skills and Grey Wolf’s wonderful instrumentation.

The audience, naturally, demanded an encore at which point I had a quiet chuckle to myself because I guessed what might be coming when Deborah announced she had a special guest. I’d spotted a certain Robert Plant earlier, always a welcome visitor to Artrix, and we’d been hoping he might make an appearance. A great night got even better as he stepped out on stage, the audience went mad, and he sang Love Hurts with Deborah. Rolling his eyes ironically when he sang the line ‘I’m Young, I Know’, he had the crowd in stitches. More group encores, with Plant playing guitar at the back, followed and were greeted with rapturous applause. It was a brilliant night and all credit goes to Deborah for managing to organise the gig and perform so well.

Words: Rosie Hamilton, Slap Magazine
Photography: Ross Woodhall
SLAP Magazine, Page 34 – View Original