Emma Scott Presents

O2 Academy3 Birmingham 10th Aug 2013.

It seems like forever since my last jaunt over to the O2 Academy3 in Birmingham but I’m very happy to report that tonight and all courtesy of Emma Scott Presents…. Stuart Woolfenden, The Cruz, The Borgias, Reap plus Fight The Bear, that is about to change.

Artists such as Jake Bugg and Tom O’Dell really have opened people’s eyes to the world of solo artists in acoustic mode and Stuart Woolfenden from Redditch is one young man who, even at the age of fifteen, makes for a commendable performance in this area. There is a great edge of social awareness and a hint of rebellion in Stuart’s songs that when all combined together, makes for quite a powerful performance. Keep your eyes and ears open for Stuart’s gigs as there’s heaps of talent here and this is only just the start of his journey!

Stuart Woolfenden

Our second artists of the night brought about a change in musical direction that took us off down the mighty rock ‘n’ roll motorway with West Midlands band, The Cruz. These four guys represented themselves really well tonight with a powerful and energetic set and when those present were invited to come closer to the stage, the audience did not need asking twice! Stand out song for me was the new single ‘Insanity’, which you can find over on their Facebook page. Thumbs most definitely up to this band for their set tonight, you got me looking forward to the next one already.

Jeff Hunt and Richard Wilson - The Cruz

The third band to take to the stage tonight was Birmingham’s very own three piece, The Borgias. Once again, I found myself taking a change in musical direction but this time I was to be driven along a road that was slightly more surreal. The Borgias set tonight served to deliver an adventure that quite positively basked in the curious and outlandish world of synth, guitar and harmonica, all of which being topped off with some absorbingly emotive vocals. At times, I felt that there I heard a few echo’s of what I would class as dance music in their electronic rock, and one thing for sure, these guys have a creative imagination and radical style that does not conform to the norm. Go check these guys out for yourself, as there’s some pretty interesting stuff going on here!

Michael Robinson - The Borgias

Our evening had now passed the half way mark and our next band up on stage was to be the mighty Reap. Previously known as The Formula, these guys seem to have reconstructed themselves into something that is several steps ahead of their previous existence and without doubt, they have a sound that captures the great heart of classic rock ‘n’ roll. If I was giving marks for their set tonight, it would have to be 11/10 as these guys were just faultless, but if you missed them here tonight at the O2 Academy3, you still have a chance to catch them before the end of summer as details of all their up and coming gig can be found over on their Facebook page.

Dave Joynes and Carl Jenkins - Reap

Headlining band for this evening were Shropshire based bandileroes, Fight The Bear. Even though I hail from the same neck of the woods as these guys, I have to admit, it has been a couple of years since I’ve seen them, so I was definitely long overdue a good catch up! There’s a great positive vibe in the sound and style of this band and albeit quite a few people who had come to see the earlier bands didn’t all stay to watch our headliners, those who did, saw a great band give a really top notch performance that was well worthy of this pole position on tonight’s bill.

Bear - Fight The Bear

Words and Photography by Sue Wardle

Fairports Cropredy Convention

Fairport Convention

Day 3

Cropredy Oxfordshire 7th To 9th August 2013.

Having flown down especially from this years Edinburgh Fringe festival to perform at Cropredy, Richard Digance was first to take to the stage on day three. After a brief story in typical Digance style it was straight down to business with his mix of musical comedy.

As the stage was being quickly turned around for the next act, I was aware that a rather large crowd had gathered at the barrier in front of the stage. After checking my running order list it was apparent why as the Mediaeval Baebes were due up next. Their set comprising of songs made up from mediaeval texts form the 12th – 14th centuries is impressive to say the least with each song being individually introduced so the audience knew something of its meaning.

Mediaeval Baebes

If you like your Blues guitarists like I do then you must look up Brooks Williams. The man is a six string legend with his blend of Bluesy Americana music. At one point I stopped photographing just to watch in awe at his slide guitar work. Another Folk-rock influenced band were The Dunwells, sadly these guys had slipped below my music radar to but their beautiful melodies and mix of English Rock and American roots music slotted them somewhere between Kings Of Leon and Mumford & Sons.

Brookes Williams

Second of this festivals Celtic dance music offerings was Peatbog Fearies. Their line up has changed quite considerably over their sixteen year history but they still deliver the same sound despite the changes. These guys were so energetic on stage and their sound is both exciting and innovative.

If like me you’re of a “certain” age you’ll remember Nik Kershaw from his heady 80’s pop era days, now he’s solo acoustic singer/songwriter.

Nik Kershaw.

Covering rock, folk and pop genres, his new music is more contemporary than his older material but it was still good to hear the classic material stripped down to just him and a guitar.

Nik Kershaw

All too soon three days of some of the best live music I’ve heard began to draw to a close, but not before festival organisers and headline act Fairport Convention took to the stage. Opening with “Sir Patric Spens” the Fairport chaps took the crowd on a musical journey playing some thirty songs which spanned their entire musical career.

Fairport Convention.

With a mix of classic favorites such as “Fotheringay” and “Farewell Farewell”, and newer material such as “Celtic Moon” and “Albert and Ted” their set list was a shining example of their varied 46 year history. Throughout their set there were cameo appearances from previous artists including Martin Barre lending a hand on “2-4-6-8- Motorway” and Nik Kershaw on “Red Strand”

In true Cropredy tradition Fairport closed with “Meet On The Ledge” which has now become their unofficial anthem and sadly a sign to all that this was the end.

Fairports Cropredy Festival has a unique and welcoming atmosphere for which it is famous for. It’s easy to see why it’s been dubbed as the “friendliest festival in the country”

Review and Photography by Mark Lloyd (Amplified Gig Photography)

Fairports Cropredy Convention

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Day 2

Cropredy Oxfordshire 7th To 9th August 2013.

For the few hundred fans who had actually made up in time to see the first act on day two, they were treated to the winners of the BBC Radio 2 young folk award Gregg Russell and Ciaran Algar. With a contemporary sound combined with a musical dexterity that would challenge even the most seasoned musician these two are certainly ones to watch out for.

Despite knowing very little about folk rock and soul band Danny & The Champions of the World, I was eager to see what all the buzz was about as a rather large crowd had started forming at the front of the barrier. With the charismatic Danny George Wilson at the helm of what can be dubbed a folk super group these guys had a unique folk sound with a rock edge.

Danny & the Champions of the World

If you like your folk music a bit more alternative then the Moulettes will be the one for you. They had a unique sound with elements of prog, rock, pop and classical all rolled into one flavorful sound.

There’s something about a good old jig that stirs something inside and instinctively makes you tap your foot and Irish instrumental band Lunasa certainly have the credentials. Since 1997 these guys have played over 1500 shows around the world. With their innovation and passion their music has been hailed as some of the best at the forefront of Celtic music.

Jethro Tull guitarist Martin Barre is just sublime. Martin’s been Tull’s guitarist for the past 43 years but he has also worked with Paul McCartney, Phil Collins and the late, great Gary Moore. These days he’s put his own band together and plays all the classic hits from the extensive Jethro Tull back catalogue.

Martin Barre

Penultimate act for the Saturday was the highly anticipated Levellers. Right from the off the band ignited a spark within the crowd that pretty much saw 17,000 fans bouncing up and down emphatically.

Levellers .

Kicking off with “England my Home” there couldn’t have been a more patriotic way to start their set. They knocked out a mixture of old and new material and classics like “What a beautiful Day”, “One Way” and “The Riverflow” to name but a few.


Described as being amongst the most inventive and influential bands of popular music 10cc had the honour of closing Saturday nights festivities. They instantly unleashed a barrage of classics opening with “The Wall Street Shuffle” and segueing through all the old favorites and a few lesser known ones as well. The tracks everyone wanted to hear were there: “Art For Art’s Sake”, “Oh Donna”, “I’m Mandy”, “Fly Me” and of course “I’m Not In Love”.

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Even if you weren’t a big 10cc fan at the time, you’d still know far more of their songs than you realize. The energy remained high throughout the set and the audience were kept enthralled. Finishing the night with “Rubber Bullets”, the audience were on their feet! These guys may be “old wild men” but they can still hold their own with the best of them.

Review and Photography by Mark Lloyd (Amplified Gig Photography)