Trembling Bells, Woven Tents, Muldoon’s Picnic at Broadcast, 13/7/14

Acapella folk group Muldoon’s Picnic are first on the bill and they delve into all and any traditional vocal styles for material, including old timey gospel, sacred harp, Scots ballads, English carols, music-hall comedy, and even Georgian polyphony.

This enthusiastic eclecticism fits them firmly in the legacy of the folk revival, with a concern for quality and variety over rigid traditionalism.

Woven Tents combine world and folk music infused textures with experimental song structures and a general psychedelic sensibility.

Tonight, they have a tough job considering the absence of their guitarist and struggle to make the best of a bad situation, with a general lack of musical connection with each other and the audience that jars with their otherwise engaging song writing.

It’s a real shame, as those of us who have seen this band on top form know the heights they’re capable of, and as their EP Leave Your Monsters at Home shows.

Trembling Bells channel the best of late 60s/early 70s folk rock, with more than a few similarities to Fairport Convention, Pentangle and Steeleye Span.

Much of the set is impressively punchy, very much equal parts folk and rock, but still the band make space to explore a variety of moods, tempos and dynamics—even a problem with a faulty amp turns into a welcome opportunity for the vocal duet ‘Seven Years a Teardrop’, showing off Lavinia Blackwall and Alex Neilson’s unique voices.

Trembling Bells are also tight improvisers, with instrumental sections interweaving intense swelling drones and melodies from guitar, keys and fiddle.

It’s all great stuff, and with the news of a recent recording session I’m sure plenty of folk will be eager to hear the forthcoming album.

Words: C.R. Sanderson
Photos: Nadia Murdoch

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