Formal dictionary definitions of the adjective ‘glorious’ include ‘having, worthy of, or bringing fame or admiration, having a striking beauty or splendour’. The informal being ‘very enjoyable’.
That just about summed up the sound and performance created by Lady Maisery last night in Saltaire, the sound being all the more enjoyable since the addition of ace sound engineer Neil Segrott as their touring sound technician. Now on his second tour with the band, his in depth knowledge of their music and how it should sound was used to great effect. Don’t get me wrong, there was nothing wrong with their sound before Neil, but it is now enhanced.
Lady Maisery, for those not aware, are Rowan Rheingans on fiddles and bansitar, Hannah James on accordion and percussion (both feet and drum) and Hazel Askew on harp, concertina and bells. All three take lead vocals and merge their voices to create some absolutely sublime harmonies with an incredibly high standard of instrumentation constantly weaving its way throughout the vocals. Some songs are pure acapella; some songs are diddles or tune singing, an art which has nearly died out in England. A mixture of their own and traditional songs with some covers including a Todd Rundgren song Honest Work, discovered via Maddy Prior.
This was their second visit to Saltaire, the first being 5 May 2015. They opened with Katy Cruel from their 2013 second CD MAYDAY before Sing For The Morning, the opening song of the latest CD CYCLE. Continuing with The Quiet Joys of Brotherhood we heard the bansitar, a cross between a sitar and banjo, an instrument made by Rowans father, Hannah providing foot percussion and clapping. Prior to finishing set 1 with the beautiful London Lights, featuring Hazel on lead vocal, Hannah gave possibly the best Merch spiel I’ve heard. It certainly worked as the goods were virtually flying from the table.
Like set 1’s closing song, the opening song for Set 2, Poor Man’s Lamentation, with a far more upbeat sound than its title, was from the award-winning album SONGS OF SEPARATION, being one of the many projects that Lady Maisery are involved with. This brought rapturous applause. An acapella Diggers Song followed. They are very busy ladies, besides being Lady Maisery they are all involved in numerous projects. Many of the songs have deep political and ecological references.
This was not a one paced show, the content, style and delivery varied throughout. The consistency was the delightful, enchanting sound that had the audience listening as intently as I have seen a Live Room audience listen. I might add that Live Room audiences are generally great listeners.
And so the delights continued with an acapella encore of a wonderful apt parting song called Land On The Shore. The ladies joked that at the end of the tour they would check into a spa for some pampering. It would be fair to say that the audience had an ear pampering experience throughout the show. Neil recorded part of the show so hopefully at some point there may be a live album.
Next up at The Live Room on 24th November is the wonderful Chris Wood, making his 3rd visit, for me the very best Folk singer and songwriter in the British Isles. That’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it.