Monday 29 December 2014


Live review

Magical Christmas Tree Tour, Newhampton Folk Club, Wolverhampton

It seems you can have anarchy at Christmas and still enjoy yourself, to prove the point Pete Morton, Emily Sanders and Chris Parkinson brought their annual show to the upper room of the Newhampton Inn, Whitmore Reans.

Pete Morton
Sanders had the unenviable task of standing in for Maggie Boyle who tragically died earlier this year.
With clog dancing, Chaucerian rock ‘n’ roll, upside down, broom and eccentric dancing, along with a rather world weary Christmas tree guiding proceedings, it all got a little merry and, at times, surreal.
But Morton on guitar and vocals, Sanders on fiddle and vocals and Parkinson on a variety of instruments, vocals and Father Jack impersonations brought a really manic sense of fun to proceedings.
Morton opened the evening with the bizarre pairing of singing The House of the Rising Sun to the tune of Oh Little Town of Bethlehem and later on he would perform Rock Around the Clock in Middle English bringing a definitely weird slant to the festivities.
Added to this there was Parkinson slipping in all manner of instrumental jokes while sitting in the corner with his piano accordion like a naughty schoolboy.
Parkinson then took hold of the reins with two instrumentals Mountain Road and Christmas Eve accompanied by Sanders on fiddle and Morton on guitar. 
Emily Sanders
The first outing of the magical tree of the concert title came straight after. The tree is passed around the audience who take scrolls from the festive sprig which have cryptic messages which the trio then have to perform.
Sanders opened the obscure requests by donning her clogs and dancing to Byker Hill and when she had finished stamping on the board she had to remove her clogs to Parkinson playing the Stripper's Theme.
In contrast they followed this with a lovely bluegrass style carol called Mary & Joseph where their harmonies blended beautifully.
Then once again it was time for the tree to dictate proceedings, however, extracting the scroll proved somewhat troublesome but eventually it was time for some raunchy rock 'n' roll in Middle English. So donning a Chaucerian hat, Morton then knocked out a medieval rendition of Rock Around The Clock which has to be heard to be believed. It's hard to know who would have been spinning fastest in their grave, Bill Haley or Chaucer.
As a tribute to the much missed Maggie Boyle they performed the well-known Wexford Carol which Boyle had taught the group.
After which it was time for the tree again and, as it was passed around, Parkinson kept things moving with Jingle Bells. This brought about an "eccentric dance" between Morton and Sanders which is essentially a dance with anything weird, unusual or grotesque added to the movements so really anything goes, but the pair did the make the most of the small stage for a thoroughly entertaining charade to a hornpipe from Parkinson.
Chris Parkinson
It wasn't long before the tree was going round again this time to Come All Ye Faithful and the instruction was for a Lincolnshire Broomstick dance which Morton duly provided and from which he needed some time to recover.
Morton ended the first half with In The Bleak Mid-Winter with which most of the audience joined in.
He opened the second half with the jaunty Beggar's Song which was followed by the ballad When The Snows of Winter Fall then by Roving Out On A Winter's Night which Morton and Sanders sang a Cappella for the first half before Parkinson came in with the accordion accompanied by Sanders for the instrumental second half.
As Parkinson then played In Dulce Jubilo the tree was again taken round from which came the request for music from around the world.
This translated to music from Eastern Europe, a Medieval carol from France followed by a Yiddish tune and then some upside down dancing to the Aussie tune of Click Go The Shears played by Parkinson on the harmonica. This was followed by the traditional English tune Maiden Lane.
The tree then saw that Parkinson got his come-uppance where he was left on stage for what he described as a musical travesty.
The late Maggie Boyle
He proceeded to do a one man duet first in the style of a pub singer's rendition of White Christmas while accompanying himself on the accordion and then Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer on accordion and harmonica finishing off with Silent Night on the Swanee whistle and, you guessed it, the accordion.
To try to bring some semblance of normality they went back to a carol What Is This Fragrance? with Sanders leading the audience in the chorus.
It was down to Parkinson again to provide the tunes starting off with Never On A Monday and the Christmas tree was put to bed for another year.
Morton then pulled out his own composition called Six Billion Eccentrics before they were called back to the Encore for which they performed Follow That Star which poignantly enough was written by the dear departed fellow musician Boyle.
The MCTT is now in it's seventh year and is fun, irreverent, a little mad but thoroughly enjoyable and, the perfect way to go into a winter's night and prepare for the coming festivities.

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