Friday 21 November 2014


Live Review

MAC Birmingham

The Poozies turned up on stage at MAC Birmingham looking like four friends on a girls' night out but with one major exception, these ladies had brought their own entertainment.

Mairearad Green, Sally Barker, Eilidh Shaw and
 Mary Macmaster who are The Poozies
Mary Macmaster on electro harp, Sally Barker on guitar, Eilidh Shaw on fiddle and Mairearad Green on accordion are an absolute delight to listen to and the 90 minute set they did just flew by, leaving you wanting more.
Their mixture of self-penned and traditionally arranged Scottish, Gaelic, folk and country-style music is executed with such ease of precision and with their harmonised singing it is simply a joy to sit back and let their music wash over you.
In the 20 years since they have formed they have gone through several changes of line-up and among the members to have performed as part of the group is Kate Rusby, whom we all know has gone on to enjoy a fantastic solo career.
The current line up which has the four excellent musicians, it was originally a five-piece band, produce a friendly, endearing and utterly joyful performance. For the curious, their name comes from a pub, Poosie Nancies which, famously, was the haunt of Scottish bard Robbie Burns.
Sally Barker
They opened with Mary Macmaster's distinctive sound on her harp and singing in Gaelic about a raggedy old man. Her voice rattled along flipping up and down as if to mimic the movements of dipping the old man in the stream in an effort to get him clean.
This then segued into Memoirs of a Geezer a traditional sounding but entirely new composition from Green on accordion and written about her brother.
Again Macmaster on her impressive looking instrument complete with "fairy lights" started Southern Cross before in came the strong lead vocals from Barker and her fellow group members joining in on close harmony for the chorus.
It already had the sinister feeling of the theme tune to Get Carter by Roy Budd, but their singing about the Second World War "pirate ship" gave it an even more ominous aspect.
Shaw took over from here and kicked off a triplet of Gaelic tunes with the central vocals having the feel of a cross between Cajun and Swiss yodelling.
They sang Black Eyed Susan from their latest album, Yellow Like Sunshine, A Capella and really showed off their harmonising.
Green then took centre stage with a tune Only Jeevika by Karen Tweed which was followed by one of Shaw's own creations Howie Came Unglued.
It was then Barker's turn to take centre stage with Love on a Farmboy's Wages which had very much the feel of a Seth Lakeman tune about it. Barker's clear, powerful and lusty voice climbed over the top of the throbbing beat her fellow musicians created.
It was once again Green's turn to take the reins and the group out of the first half with another fantastic display of accordion playing which gave way to Shaw's equally impressive fiddle.
Mairearad Green
Right after the break Barker showed just how strong and clear her singing is when she opened with the country song Three Chords and the Truth, there were times in there where the power of her voice really came over and she sounded uncannily like the late great Eva Cassidy.
They then went back to the instrumental with again Green leading the proceedings for a fast-paced set of tunes.
Macmaster then introduced Small Things in the Cupboards a light ditty written by Tim Dalling about all those things everyone has tucked away in a draw somewhere.
It was back to Green who created an eerie sounding tune using the audience as a fill-in for what should be a piper's drone but the assembled fans provided the note to bring the music in with the definite plucking of Macmaster.
Barker then introduced The Ship of Love which finished A Capella before Shaw introduce a trio of polkas, after being a recent and reluctant convert to the style of playing. Barker then continued with another of her own songs Ghost Girl which had more of the feel of a power ballad.
They finished the night with a set of traditional and gusty instrumentals.
Each of the Poozies has an impressive career outside of the band playing with some of the most skilled musicians on the circuit and individually they are amongst the finest of players but it's when they come together, that the magic that is The Poozies happens.

Mike Harding Folk Show

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