I have been fortunate to see ODETTE MICHELL, unquestionably one of my favourite artists, play many times and she always is a joy to see and hear. This show at Downend Folk Club, where she was promoted to headline status, was up there with her best shows. Odette possesses a stunning, beautiful voice, plays some great guitar and bouzouki and writes outstanding songs, often with uplifting lyrics, bringing sunshine into the usually dark world of folk music.

Performing with her trio - Rory Innerd on violin and mandolin and Alex Duncalf on cello - Odette truly smashed her show, playing to a large crowd at Frenchay Village Hall. The trio were tight and in top form, with wonderful sound from the Downend crew. Rory and Alex add so much to Odette's already brilliant live sound.

Opening strongly with the title track of her debut album, The Wildest Rose, Odette, Rory and Alex set the bar high following with her lovely take on the traditional True Lover's Farewell. Other first set highlights included two of Odette's stunning new songs: Song For The Birds and All The Bonny Ships, a song about her grandfather. Also great to hear her sing I Once Loved A Shepherd, one of her few sadder songs.

Odette began the second half solo with her lovely After The Hurricane from the By Way Of Night EP. There was also a great versions of The Blue Cockade and The Outside Track. Odette and the trio closed with one of her best songs, an ode to life centered on the London Northern Line Tube, The Great Old Northern Line before returning solo for a well deserved encore, The Lakes Of Pontchartrain.

Opening the evening, ANT MILES played a rare solo set (indeed his first). Based on this, I think he should do some more! Out of his comfort zone, he has a good voice as shown by songs like Bring Me A Boat and The Yorkshire Couple. He also invited Anita Dobson (who like Ant is a member of ROAD NOT TAKEN) to sing My Love Is Like A Red, Red Rose.

A fabulous night at this great, well run and friendly club.

Words: Keith Bache
Photo: Chris Dobson