On an evening when many people’s minds were on events over the pond as the new President of the USA was inaugurated, a sell-out crowd in a tiny corner of South Gloucestershire allowed themselves an evening of something beautifully uplifting.
The tunes of MOORE, MOSS, RUTTER filled the charming little hall in Frenchay, transporting over 120 music fans to a relaxed and comfortable place.
“Comfortable” was the word of the evening. Tom Moore, Archie Churchill-Moss and Jack Rutter have been playing together since they were in their early-teens, which brought a BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award in 2011. Their incredible talent has seen them, individually, work with the likes of Seth Lakeman, False Lights and Ange Hardy, but it was clear from early in their set that these are three musicians who are entirely at ease together on stage. They know each other inside out; you can tell that from the little glances, the knowing looks, the instinctive way they bounce off each other and the way they pass the tune to each other seamlessly. And they take you with them; sat in the audience, one can’t help but be drawn into their comfort. It almost makes you feel like part of their team.
Not that they’re not different; they’re clearly individuals. Moore (fiddle) is often lost in the tunes that he is playing. Eyes closed, shoulders hunched, Tom Moore is absolutely at one with the music. Rutter (guitar) brings the energy. His feet are planted far apart as he rocks from side to side and dips to the music, smiling and looking at his bandmates; and Churchill-Moss (melodeon) is a slight figure on the right of the stage. Feet close together, and upright, he almost splits the difference; eyes in the back of his head at times, but also engaging with the others and allowing himself the indulgence of the odd foot-stomp.
It’s mostly tunes; Moore, Moss, Rutter, clad comfortably in jeans, checked-shirts and sneakers (or, in the more substantial and undoubtedly northern Rutter’s case, substantial boots) steer us excellently through tales of dead pets (‘Dougal’… “it’s not that funny!”), Cheltenham hotels that gave them beer when they probably shouldn’t have (‘The Big Sleep’), and an ode to the room in Moore’s house where two (soon to be three) albums have been conceived and practiced (‘The Beeches’).
There are a couple of songs too, fronted by Jack Rutter’s engaging northern vocal. ‘Wait For The Waggon’, an American song found in a book of Yorkshire folk songs (it made its way back to the UK courtesy of the song-collecting of George Hall) has the packed-out room finding its collective voice; while the second-half’s offering, ‘The Dalesman’s Littany’, has us singing along with the refrain “From Hull, and Halifax, and Hell, Good Lord deliver me”. Moore, Moss Rutter decline to link this to events in the USA.
And, as if to counter the “folk” feel of the evening, Moore hits us with a couple of tunes from Purcell. It’s inspiring stuff. The man is a genius; you’d never know they weren’t folk classics.
The audience, of course, demand more. We're given a couple of choices and plump for, in Rutter’s words, something “a bit silly and grrrr”… Moore’s tune ‘The Scorpion’. It’s a great end to the evening.
If Moore, Moss, Rutter are all about the tunes, the opening act is a complete contrast. HARRI ENDERSBY is a singer-songwriter from Durham and, joined on stage by husband Rich Marsh, we see two guitars and one voice weave their way through some beautifully-written modern folk songs.
The first couple come from Harri’s 2014 EP ‘Ivy Crown’, while the second-half of her short spot features songs from her soon-to-be released debut album ‘Home/Lives’. Harri’s final song, ‘Noise’, is a highlight, but it’s a set filled with great songs, a stunning voice and sensitive musicianship. Harri Endersby is going places. Mark our words.
Trump? Whatever. Live music is alive, well, and comforting people in South Gloucestershire.
Roll on February.