Maddy Prior and Carnival Band in York
Grand Opera House, December 2nd, 1997

Well it looks like Stephen Rawling got to review Carols & Capers first and I'll try not to be too repetitious. Of course York was much better :-) (smile); Maddy and the boys even said we were a superior audience (OK so they probably say that to everyone).

        We unfortunately missed the first song but by the time we were sat down she was in excellent form. The Coventry Carol and Basque Carol really showed the purity of her voice and I felt extremely moved by it's beauty. The way her voice combines with the different instruments is amazing and I especially noticed how it blended with the Double Bass; a match made in heaven. These traditional instruments have a kind of imperfection of tone which gives them there own personality and a real 'humanity'. ' Ding Dong Merily' used detuned hand bells to give an authentic sound and they rang out as a counter rhythm. A first for me was seeing a Curtle (spelling unknown) or 'Beltching Bed Post ' as it was described. There was one song in the first half where she seemed to lose her voice a little but soon recovered. As well as sounding good, she looked great in her colourful ,frequently changed, velvet outfits. I especially liked a bright purple lycra type leotard, mentioned by Steve, that she wore much of the time.

        The pantomime was a joy. She started out as the queen but died in child birth from loss of blood. It was a quick change and then she became Snow White and what a great Snow White she made; complete with blue bowed pigtales. She seemed to relish the part, her face lighting up throughout the play as she jumped around the stage or hung out of a cottage window. They only had one dwarf, Sven, so he had to have a multiple personality. In the end Snow White married Sven and they lived happily everafter.

        Whilst Maddy got changed again, the Carnival had a break from seasonal fare and played a jazzy cuban number. During this end section she returned covered in gold tinsel and decorated the Christmas tree. I cannot think of any other tunes not mentioned yet by myself or Stephen.

        The one thing that struck Carole and myself was how comfortable Maddy looked; as if she really wanted to be with those musicians on stage and that there was nowhere else she would rather be (not even Bradford :-) ). I saw her a few years back at the same venue with Steeleye after Gay had rejoined and I don't remember her being as relaxed. The only worrying thing about the evening was that her voice seemed to nearly completely pack up for the majority of one of the encores but she soldiered on admirally and recovered. In previous posts it has been mentioned that Maddy has had prolems a little while ago with her voice, what did this consist of?

        I have good reason to be a bit frustrated with the Bradford lot (and was it Newcastle before that?); they seem to have bought up most of the CD Stocks. I had hoped to buy 'Tapestry of Carols' to go with my 'Carols and Capers' but the people at the merchandise stall said that they had sold out the night before; hmmmff. I did however the the live Carnival Band CD " Jump for Joy " which covers traditional folk from the USA to Croatia and was recorded at The Red Lion Folk Club, Kings Heath, Birmingham in 1994.

Vernon Webster