Friday night eve of the Spring Solstice and solar eclipse happened but the promise of quality live music from the Oysterband beckoned with their own folk rock musical menu.
The first gig of the tour since John’s operation, another cancer survivor, and tonight every fan celebrated the Oysterband’s front man’s return to the stage in fine voice.
The atmosphere was full of expectation in a busy venue tonight and the energy went up to sparking static electric as the members of the band strode through the audience; with the fans forming a guard of honour as the band walked towards the small stage soon they were ready instruments picked up the set was about to begin.
Opening a strong set of Oysterband classics and from current album Diamonds On The Water; everyone was delighted to hear the opening classic Native Son, quickly followed by another favourite By Northern Lights again reflecting the other natural phenomenon that Wales had recently experienced the Aurora as far South as the Brecon Beacons. The whole place was now in high spirits singing and dancing in harmony with a band that entertains but above all wants you to have fun, engaging with the music and soaking up and understanding the poetic and meaningful lyrics.
The charisma from all the musicians oozed off the stage and this energy and connection with each other and the audience focused through the power of John Jones upfront who was enjoying every moment of being back on stage delivering the music he loves. The title track of their current album, Diamonds on the Water was beautiful with the harmonized vocals; the whole sound they produce is a melding and meshing of tonal layers, with Adrian Oxaal on cello adding a depth of melancholy and fill in the mid-range of tone. The whole boisterous crowd were immersed in the sound and sang along to all the lyrics and joined in creating a great atmosphere in this cozy venue in Uplands, Swansea.
There was a change of tempo as we were treated to a trio of Irish Folk instrumentals with the stylish bow of Ian Telfer, who makes the four strings of the fiddle resonate across the venue, the irony of a Scotsman playing Irish music in Wales was appreciated by Ian and the audience. With John back on the vocals we heard a song they wrote in celebration of 200th anniversary of Thomas Paine so relevant for this pre-election period with All That Way For This featuring Dil out front with his glittery green snare and audience participation. The pace picked up with Here Comes The Flood as we were treated to an array of favourites including Mississippi Summer a Si Khan number with Alan Prosser playing solo. The crowd just wanted more and more music and the Oysterband kept delivering, their folk rock world music with all its musical twists and turns in which every track tells a story that you just want to have the plot unfolded in front of you. Steal Away from Diamonds On The Water album is rarely played live but tonight we fell in love with a version that hit the rafters. With the fading chords of Santiago it was time for the gig to end, normally bands leave and return but the layout of the stage makes this impossible so they stayed and we heard a rousing rendition of Meet You There before they picked up their instruments and joined the crowds to sing the last number and then march through the appreciative clapping and cheering audience out of the venue to the back stage area.
This was a gem of a gig and The Garage was appreciative that musicians of such caliber had bout their dynamic sound to Swansea on a Friday night.