Oyster 3 – perfect miniature of The Oysterband
Tuesday night, for Roots Unearthed at St David’s Hall we were all treated to a musical delight. The Oyster 3 are the heart of The Oysterband. The depth of tone achieved coupled with the power of the lyrics make the stripped back Oyster 3 perfect.
Oyster 3 opening with an instrumental English folk tune which provided the perfect start to get your musical pulses running. The intoxicating mix of fiddle, acoustic guitar and accordion created a real Ceilidh number the deep root of the Oyster music. Then a traditional song given the Oyster re-arrangement, Molly Bond a delight from 1986 is given new tonal shape with the Oyster 3 ‘Unplugged’ sound. This re-acquaintance with songs we love from the band continued throughout the evening with tales of experiences of touring musicians. The three founder members of The Oysterband, John Jones, Alan Prosser and Ian Telfer created an evening that was up close, personal and stories the revealed the darker side of East German business after the wall came tumbling down, others made us laugh and sigh. Ian in the main acted in between fiddle and vocal duties as the raconteur, whist John and Alan added their own pithy comments.
Great audience participation, for The Oxford Girl (1982); this encapsulated the evening’s folk music modern and approachable. The years moved on it was now 1983 with Coal Not Dole, written by Kay Sutcliffe, all about the Kent Coal fields. The emotions were still raw as John sung the lyrics of the poem written by Kay, a wife of a Kentish miner. She wrote the poem during the mid-eighties dispute between Maggie Thatcher’s Conservative government and the NUM. Another Oysterband classic hardly felt stripped down with a rousing delivery of Another Quiet Night in England. A little known fact was shared. The Oysterband banked the earnings of tours of East Germany prior to reunification! You have to go and see this engaging trio to learn the full twists and turns of a tale with not a happy ending and the band buying the get-away car for their ex-manager George!
The exact meaning of Cornish Hal-an-Tow, is unclear and is a processional tune ushering in summer. In fact the meaning may be from the words jolly rumbalo, it is always a fun tune to get your feet a-tapping. Alan’s solo The Mississippi Summer was another one of the beautiful interpretations that were the hallmark of this evening’s show of folk in the round. Meet You There, provided a stirring finales to a great evening crammed with stories and songs rooted in the folk tradition with the freedom to fly brightening a winter evening.
With an encore, the 1992 Oysterband number We Could Leave Right Now, as the song progressed they left the stage and walked off singing as they went their voices fading as the night drew to an end. A fabulous evening, all good things as they say have to come to an end unfortunately.