It’s a dark and cold November night with whispers of winter in the air. We needed something to warm the cockles, and with a local ale and brownie at the ready, it was time to see if Downend Folk Club could step up to the challenge!

Many years ago I found myself at an impromptu party where a couple played guitar and sang songs together, holding the attention of a room effortlessly. MEGSON conjured up the same feeling for me tonight, albeit on a much grander scale! There is an authenticity that courses through their modern story telling, and it is utterly absorbing. They make the audience genuinely laugh aloud during some of their witty songs such as Generation Rent and The Barrington Judo Club. However, this is juxtaposed with points of delicate intimacy on songs like Patterns, a tale of the impact of redundancy and the death of the steel industry in the North East, and A Prayer For Hope.

The song writing and playing are superb, but it is the interplay of their voices which captures me the most tonight. The harmonies speak of a couple who musically inhabit the same space. Nowhere is this more apparent than on In A Box, a beautiful song about memory, what we value, and why. On this song the harmonies are present but also a wonderful interplay of vocal and counter vocal. I had been wanting to see Megson for a long time, and they entirely matched my expectations.

Tonight’s support comes from KIRSTY MERRYN. Again, Kirsty is an act I’ve wanted to catch live for a considerable time. She didn’t disappoint, weaving tales of famous women from history in The Fair Tea Maker Of Edgware Road and the haunting Forfarshire. She plays the piano with arresting ease accompanying the kind of singing that can take your breath away. Whether performing her arrangements of traditional tunes or self penned songs, there is a fluidity that is spell-binding and completely immersive. She is engaging and assured with the audience, and I look forward to seeing a longer set in the future.

With acts of Kirsty’s quality providing support and performances like Megson’s as headliners, Downend Folk Club clearly has the means to warm us during the colder months ahead. Bring on December!

Words: Mike Richards
Photo: Chris Dobson