Review: The Old Dance School, Lakeside Arts Centre, by Peter Palmer
As a group The Old Dance School hail from Birmingham, but their contemporary folk tour carried us to remoter regions of the British isles.
The opening instrumental, The Long Walk, introduced the unique sound of the septet. Fiddles were prominent; so too, in their turn, were a recorder, whistles, trumpet and guitar. An upright bass, percussion, occasionally a piano-accordion lent careful support.
Further items from the latest album included a suitably uplifting From The Air, inspired by a flight that was booked after miscalculating the road distance between two gigs.
Scenically, the first half stretched from a lighthouse to the Peak District – each musical picture gaining much of its colour from distinctive, sometimes unearthly harmony.
The second half began with a slow and poetic viola melody (Helen Lancaster), the other players gradually enriching the mix. Lead singer Robin Beatty repeatedly charmed the ear, whether with a traditional ballad or in lyrical inventions like Sula Sgier.
While coming closer to folktronica, Andy Cutting's Spaghetti Panic was negotiated by largely acoustic means: less sat-nav than follow your nose. And The North Edge made a soulful finale.