It was the Dance Cards’ second visit to TLR in two years, so impressed were we with their performance in May 2016. Our audience were also very taken with the band, voting them their tied top all-time TLR show in our 5th birthday poll. They didn’t let us down. Right from the first few bars, the string quartet of double bass, cello and twin fiddles had the crowd hooked, and combined with the beautiful four part harmonies, they really couldn’t lose.
As well as a dynamic fiddler, band leader Laura Cortese has a wonderful, rich voice, at home on both traditional material and her own pop and rock influenced compositions. However, Jenna Moynihan on second fiddle and vocals, Valerie Thompson on cello and vocals, and Jeni Magana on bass and vocals are not just a backing band; the Dance Cards are a virtuoso unit, which, without drums or any percussion, manage to create tight, powerhouse rhythms that drive the sound.
In a night full of highlights, it is difficult to pick out favourites, but Laura’s own ‘Into The Dark’ with its pizzicato fiddle opening riff, her truly beautiful instrumental ‘Mangatskrinna’, and their bluegrass-meets-disco take on the old Gloria Estefan hit ‘Turn The Beat Around’ really stood out. But it would be difficult to beat, for sheer spine-tingling effect, their off stage, off mic encore of the Rolling Stones’ ‘Wild Horses’ and the plaintive original, ‘Skipping Stone’.
It was a perfect end to a wonderful evening, which was opened in spectacular style by a 6-piece young band (ages from 14 to 17) recommended by the Dance Cards themselves, Don’t Feed The Peacocks, formed just four months ago and in only their 4th proper concert appearance. James Haigh on guitar, Martin Parker on accordion, saxophone and flute, Owen Spafford and Alex Lord on fiddles, Cori Smith on viola and Phoebe Harty on cello and saxophone, are all part of the National Youth Folk Ensemble, and on this showing it won’t be long before their band starts to grab national recognition!
I have a feeling we’ll be doing this exact same show not too far in the future, and it’s likely to sell out, so be warned!