Kathryn Tickell and The Darkening at Komedia, Bath Festival

BATH Komedia was packed for the festival concert by Kathryn Tickell and her new band, The Darkening.

It was only the third performance from the new lineup, and the leader was suffering from the after effects of a throat infection, so she sang less than usual.  Thankfully it did not inhibit her signature anecdotes.

Her virtuosic skills on the North­um­brian smallpipes and fiddle have been the backup for Kathryn Tickell’s life plan – to bring the essence of Northumbria to every member of every audience everywhere. By the end of one of her concerts – with whatever ensemble – the audience leaves feeling it KNOWS the landscape, and mainly the characters, that she has so vividly described. Drive up to the borderlands and you’ll meet them in the pub.

I remember battling with Words­worth and his allusions at O Level. Tickell effortlessly paints pictures in words and music, perhaps more graphically than any other performer I have heard.

On to the music. The early repertoire of the fledgling band includes some old favourites, some new adaptations and fresh numbers that will burrow their way into the soul of the fans.

Irish Cormac Byrne is a bodhran player of skill and palpable enjoyment.  Drummer Joe Truswell is also credited with “programming” and at Komedia the balance needed a bit of tweaking, though it might have been Amy Thatcher’s Maschine Jam (I think that’s what it was) that was responsible for the bass drones that sometimes drowned out the voices entirely.

Amy’s other skills, on accordion, vocals and clogs, delighted the audience as always, as did fiddler and vocalist Kate Young.

The line up for The Darkening  (Northumbrian for dusk) is completed by Kieran Szifris on octave mandolin and guitars, and a very special piccolo.

It will be interesting to hear how The Darkening beds in, and, like Kathryn’s predecessor ensembles, is sure to gather enthusiastic fans wherever it plays.  Here’s to the next time!


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